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Stop with the petitions to kick bands off festivals

Written by
Brent DiCrescenzo

On Monday, March 16, the Glastonbury Festival announced that Kanye West would be headlining the 45-year-old British summer tradition. A day later, a petition was created on to kick the rapper off the bill. While some of the hatred directed towards the outspoken pop star is due to the endless barrage of egomania that spews from his perpetually pouty mouth, a lot of the sentiment is undeniably rooted in old fashioned racism, the kind of "rap isn't real music" bullshit that civilized people got past three decades ago. As of writing this, 128,210 people, not all festival attendees, have signed the petition. The man who started the petition, Neil Lonsdale, admitted he has never attended Glastonbury.

"We spend hundreds of pounds to attend glasto [sic], and by doing so, expect a certain level of entertainment," the petition states, asking for a "rock band" in West's place. Look, Kanye West is nothing if not entertaining. Hypocritical, creatively lost, overly concerned with ugly footwear? Sure. But not boring. His stage act remains phenomenal. But, I guess it doesn't quite measure up to past "real" Glastonbury headliners like Shakespeare's Sister, Ash, Level 42 and Kasabian. Hip-hop is nothing new to Glastonbury, either, as Jay-Z headlined the festival in 2008. 

In the days since, another petition has popped up that hits closer to home. Chicago-born, Vegas-marinated EDM-pop act Krewella was booked to play Summer Camp, a jam band festival in downstate Chillicothe. A little over 1,600 have signed that one. I guess people who shell out money to watch Moe. and Umphrey's McGee for five consecutive sets, being such fine arbiters of taste, do not want to hear a brash dance act.

Yes, the booking is a little outside the box, but the EDM and jam markets have been merging for years—see the North Coast Music Festival. Big Gigantic and STS9 are regulars on both the jam and EDM festival circuit, and both billed at Summer Camp alongside Krewella. Again, the vitriol traces back to this ugly, Chicago-born "disco sucks" baloney. On the surface, it is dreadfully fun-hating people hiding their discrimination behind a veil of "musicianship." Is it a coincidence that Krewella is a duo of two young Muslim women? Maybe. Probably. Honestly, Summer Camp attendees signing the petitions likely are not aware of that.

I went to school with the Umphrey's guys and wrote the press bio for Krewella and can attest that both acts are smart, lovely, hard-working people. Though I might not reach for their abums as my first choice, I enjoy talking with them. I bet they would get along backstage. They put on a good show.

So, basically, what I am saying is chill the fuck out. Aren't you supposed to be hippies? This new practice of bitchy petitions is disgusting and pointless. Even the Juggalos were more open-minded to the bookings at the Gathering. You realize this is why festivals schedule multiple stages at once? If you don't like the band, here's a novel idea: Walk away, watch another performer. Or here's a tried and true way to express your displeasure with a festival: Don't attend. Don't buy a ticket. Go toss a floppy frisbee. Supply and demand, people. 

The festivals are somewhat responsible for this, as it is now practice to sell tickets to an event before a lineup has been announced. Lollapalooza sold out this morning in 44 minutes—without naming a single performer. But they have been doing this for a couple years. You cranks are the ones snapping up tickets ASAP. That implies that the bands do not really matter to you. So stop it with the petitions. Because this selfish ranting that you are doing? It is so Kanye West of you.

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