While the Pantera reunion tour continues to grow with a newly announced North American leg, an increasing number of European festivals have canceled appearances from the reformed metal band. Two festivals in Germany and another in Austria have removed the group from their lineups amid backlash over controversial actions by frontman Philip Anselmo, who recently revived the Pantera banner with original bassist Rex Brown alongside Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society) and Charlie Benante (Anthrax).
Earlier this week, organizers for Rock am Ring and Rock im Park announced that Pantera would no longer perform at their festivals. Upset fans had pointed to a 2016 incident at the Dimebash concert held in honor of late founding Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott where Anselmo gave a Nazi-style salute while onstage. While doing so, the singer shouted “white power,” later claiming he was joking about drinking white wine backstage and that the whole incident was a reaction to fans in the front row who were taunting him.
“The band Pantera will not perform at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park 2023 as announced,” festival organizers wrote in a translated statement. “In the last few weeks we have had many intensive discussions with artists, our partners and you, the festival fans, continued to deal with the criticism together and decided to remove the band from the program.”
Rock am Ring and Rock im Park have since announced that Foo Fighters will replace Pantera on their lineups. This comes as the latest in a flurry of festival announcements for Foo Fighters, who last month confirmed that the band will continue touring in the wake of drummer Taylor Hawkins‘ death in March 2022.
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On Wednesday, producers for Vienna, Austria’s Gasometer revealed that Pantera has also been pulled from their lineup. No reason was given for the cancellation.
In the lead-up to the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park cancellations, the German Green party pointed to the fact that the Rock am Ring is held in Nürnberg—known in English as Nuremberg—where Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party held rallies between 1933 and 1938. Party spokeswoman Réka Lörincz said “the former Nazi party premises” were “being deliberately misused for the staging and reproduction of racist and inhuman ideology.”
The Green party in Vienna made similar calls in the lead-up to Wednesday’s cancellation. “Due to its National Socialist past, Vienna in particular has a special historical responsibility to oppose any form of right-wing extremism. The appearance of Pantera is completely incompatible with this responsibility,” the party said in a statement. “Therefore, it can only mean for Vienna: No stage for a Hitler salute, no stage for Pantera!”
In the years since the Dimebash incident, Anselmo’s remorse has wavered. Immediately following the debacle, he promised “No apologies from me” and held steadfast to the white wine inside joke. A week later, he posted a video apology saying ” I am a thousand percent apologetic to anyone that took offense to what I said, because you should have taken offense to what I said. And I am so sorry, and I hope you just … Man, give me another chance to … Just give me another chance.”
In October of that year he told Decibel, “That apology is there – and no, you won’t get another one ever again.” By September 2017 he was blasting “false journalism in the metal community” for suggesting he was racist because of the incident.
In a May 2019 interview with the U.K.’s Kerrang!, Anselmo downplayed the entire controversy. “I feel like it’s ridiculous. I made an off-color joke and ‘Boom!’ — it’s like I’m literally Hitler! I’m not,” Anselmo said “I take each individual one at a time, in the way that any logical individual will. I have love in my heart. Over the years, I’ve learned to take the first step with love and to put good faith first. I get along with everybody. If there’s any doubt about my political leanings, people should get it out of their heads. I was raised amongst a dazzling [cast of characters] from the theatre, from the mental hospital, from all walks of life — all colors, creeds and kinds. It’s absurd to me that anyone in this day and age would judge anyone by the color of their skin, their heritage or their religion. I’m a harmless guy. I’m a reactionary, not a troublemaker.”
Pantera is set to begin a North American tour on July 28th at Burgettstown, PA, headlining festivals throughout the summer including Welcome To Rockville, Inkarceration, Louder Than Life, and more.