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The 1975 cancel performances in Asia after being banned from Malaysia

By | Published on Monday 24 July 2023

The 1975

The 1975 have cancelled shows in Indonesia and Taiwan after being banned from Malaysia following a performance there on Friday.

While headlining the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur, frontman Matty Healy criticised the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald. As a result, not only was the band’s set cut short but the Malaysian government also cancelled the remainder of the festival.

The event’s promoters said in a statement on Saturday: “We deeply regret to announce that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival 2023, planned for today and tomorrow, has been cancelled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matty Healy from the band The 1975”.

“This decision adheres to the immediate cancellation directive issued at 1:20pm, 22 Jul 2023, by the Ministry Of Communications And Digital”, it went on. “The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws. We sincerely apologise to all of our ticketholders, vendors, sponsors and partners. We are aware of the time, energy and efforts you have put into making this festival a success, and we value your steadfast support”.

Yesterday, The 1975 announced that they were cancelling their next two shows in a statement shared via the We The Fest festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, which they were due to headline last night, saying: “The band never take the decision to cancel a show lightly and had been eagerly looking forward to playing for fans in Jakarta and Taipei but unfortunately, due to current circumstances, it is impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows”.

Early on in the band’s Good Vibes set on Friday, Healy told the audience: “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with”.

Kissing MacDonald on the mouth, he then said: “I am sorry if that offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don’t care anymore. If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood, I’m not in the fucking mood”.

Then, just seven songs into the set, he announced that the band had been banned from the country and would have to leave the stage.

Reportedly, The 1975 had originally been denied approval to perform in Malaysia, but this had been reversed after they agreed to abide by local rules for live performances.

“Regrettably”, said Good Vibes Festival organisers, “Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment. Healy’s actions took us by complete surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident”.

While many around the world have applauded Healy’s actions, he has also come in for strong criticism from others, including from within the Malaysian LGBTQ+ community.

Speaking on the BBC World Service, Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose said: “I think there is a right place and time to do that and how you deliver the message that he delivered. It was very obvious that he was intoxicated and he wasn’t in the right space to do that”.

“I think the way he said [what he said was] very performative”, she went on. “It’s giving [off a sense of] ‘white saviour complex’ and he wasn’t doing it for our community because if he was … he would know what the consequences we would have to go through [would be]. I don’t think he cares about us, [just] himself”.

Expanding on those consequences, she said: “Right now the state elections [are] just around the corner, and the politicians are going to use this as a scapegoat, or it gives them more ammo to further their homophobic agenda”.

Echoing this, Malaysian media personality Joe Lee said on Twitter: “If anything, what Matt Healy and The 1975 have done is discount and disrupted years of work by local activists who have been pushing for change and understanding, and endangering our vulnerable minority communities”.

For his part, Healy commented in an Instagram story on Saturday: “OK, well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks”.