In the face of mounting public pressure, organizers for Australia’s Bluesfest Byron Bay have rescinded their invitation to controversial rock band Sticky Fingers. Last month’s addition of the group—which has a history of accusations of transphobia, racism, and violence toward women—to the festival’s expansive 2023 lineup had already prompted King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard to cancel their scheduled appearance at the long-running New South Wales event.
In a statement shared on Thursday, festival organizers announced that they had “decided that Sticky Fingers is to step off the Bluesfest 2023 line-up.” While the decision indicates that the festival has heard and acted on the dissent of its critics, the statement is less of an admission of wrong-doing than it is a passive-aggressive scolding, apologizing for organizers’ “mistaken belief that forgiveness and redemption are the rock on which our society is built.”
“The narrative that [Sticky Fingers] continue to deserve to be cancelled, as well as anyone who publicly supports them, is difficult to accept, wherein a portion of society and media passes eternal judgment toward those, in this case, a diagnosed mentally ill person whom we feel doesn’t deserve the continued public scrutiny he’s being given,” the statement read.
The new statement echoes the previously reported views of Bluesfest director Peter Noble, who last month defended booking Sticky Fingers, telling The Sydney Morning Herald, “Whatever happened in the past is in the past. At some point, you have to allow people to move on with their life.”
Noble’s statement referred to Sticky Fingers frontman Dylan Frost. The 31-year-old singer has been accused of harassing Indigenous Australian musicians while onstage, physically threatening another female musician, and was also ejected from a pub for an altercation with a transgender woman, all within the span of a few years. Noble has been quick to defend Frost, who he says is “a diagnosed bipolar schizophrenic,” and that “he’s had years of no incidents while he’s been managing his condition.”
Thursday’s statement continues to defend the band, claiming that “Sticky Fingers has done so many good deeds that have never been reported, including building and funding recording studios and music education programs in disadvantaged regional communities.”
Shortly after Bluesfest added Sticky Fingers to the lineup last month, Melbourne’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard canceled their set at the five-day festival. In a statement on social media, the band wrote “we stand against misogyny, racism, transphobia and violence.”
“Given this decision by the festival, we have decided to cancel our appearance at Bluesfest,” the group continued. “We are deeply disappointed to be in this position but sometimes you need to be willing to make sacrifices to stand up for your values. This is, unfortunately, one of those moments.”
Thursday’s statement from festival organizers closes with a link to a “carefully researched article” from The Australian in 2018, “Between Rock And A Safe Space,” which examines the public backlash against Sticky Fingers. The article, which organizers claim “took the trouble to examine the facts, unlike a lot of the current published material,” is available directly on the Bluesfest website. See below for the full statement.
We are sad to announce that Bluesfest has decided that Sticky Fingers is to step off the Bluesfest 2023 line-up.
Bluesfest cannot, sadly, continue to support Sticky Fingers by having them play our 2023 edition, and we apologise to those artists, sponsors and any others we involved in this matter through our mistaken belief that forgiveness and redemption are the rock on which our society is built.
The narrative that they continue to deserve to be cancelled, as well as anyone who publicly supports them, is difficult to accept, wherein a portion of society and media passes eternal judgment toward those, in this case, a diagnosed mentally ill person whom we feel doesn’t deserve the continued public scrutiny he’s being given.
We thank everyone who has contacted us and advised their support in this matter, especially those suffering from a mental illness who feel they cannot have their illness supported in a manner whereby they feel included in society.
Sticky Fingers has done so many good deeds that have never been reported, including building and funding recording studios and music education programs in disadvantaged regional communities.
We will now move on, put this behind us and continue to plan and present our best-ever edition of Bluesfest… proudly.
For those that wish to know more, there is a carefully researched article in The Australian in 2018 that took the trouble to examine the facts, unlike a lot of the current published material.