The rest of Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival has been canceled after 1975 Matty Healy criticized the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws and its government on stage in their headline act.
The band has also been banned from performing in Malaysia, according to the country’s official agency responsible for approving filming and performance applications from foreign artists.
During their headline set on Friday night (July 21), Healy called out the country’s anti-gay laws, criticized its government and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on stage. “I don’t see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” Healy told the crowd. 1975’s set was cut short and the band left the stage two songs into Healy’s remarks.
Malaysian law criminalizes sexual activity between people of the same sex with his Penal Code criminalizing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and acts of “gross indecency”.
Following the incident, the Kuala Lumpur Festival released an official statement saying that 1975’s set was canceled due to “non-compliance with local performance guidelines”, but that the remaining two days of the festival would continue, with fans with Friday tickets able to attend one of the two days for free.
But on Saturday afternoon, Malaysia’s communications minister shared on social media that he had met with festival organizers Future Sound Asia and ordered the rest of the festival cancelled. Good Vibes Festival then issued an official statement to confirm its cancellation and that the decision was made following the incident during the 1975s.
Saya telah kalmakan penganjur Festival Good Vibes 2023 i.e. Future Sound Asia, susulan aksi og mataat sangat biadab yang dipamerkan oleh artis dari UK “The 1975” di Sepang malam tadi. pic.twitter.com/0X0xjnAmVJ
— Fahmi Fadzil 🇲🇾 (@fahmi_fadzil) 22 July 2023
It wrote on Instagram: “We deeply regret that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival, scheduled for today and tomorrow, has been canceled following the controversial behavior and remarks of British artist Matty Healy from the band The 1975.
“The decision complies with the immediate cancellation directive issued at 13:20 on 22 July 2023 by the Ministry of Communications and Digital. The Ministry has emphasized its unwavering stance against any party that challenges, ridicules or violates Malaysian laws.”
In a lengthy media statement, the festival claimed it had been “assured” by The 1975’s management ahead of the show that Healy and the band “would adhere to local performance guidelines”.
“Unfortunately,” they wrote, “Healy has not honored these assurances despite our confidence in their commitment. Healy’s actions took us completely by surprise and we stopped the show as soon as possible after the incident.”
They added: “Healy’s unprofessional behavior and blatant defiance of Malaysian laws and regulations is disturbing. Healy chose to use his performance as a platform to express his personal views instead of delivering the quality show that his Malaysian fans were eagerly waiting for. This act is deeply unfair to his fans who were looking forward to enjoying a memorable music experience.”
“[Future Sound Asia] is now left to deal with the consequences of actions taken by someone who is not present to be held accountable and see the implications of his actions – which affect fans, industry players and the nation.”
NME has contacted representatives of The 1975 for comment. As of Friday, the band has not officially commented on the incident, although a source close to the band said Variety that “Matty has a long history of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community.”
In an Instagram story today (July 22), Healy reacted to the news, sharing the festival’s cancellation statement and writing: “Ok why don’t you try not to be with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”
A representative for the Good Vibes Festival had no comment when asked for a response to Healy’s Instagram Story.
Following the set, Malaysia’s Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performing Foreign Artists (Puspal) has banned The 1975 from performing in Malaysia due to the incident, as revealed in a statement shared by Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. Puspal has also filed a police complaint against the artist and the festival organizers.
According to local press Free Malaysia todayFahmi, who had called out Healy’s actions “very disgusting”, wrote on Saturday (July 22): “The unity government’s position is very clear. There will be no compromise with any party that challenges, denigrates or violates Malaysian laws.
“Therefore, I have instructed the immediate cancellation of the festival, which was to continue until tomorrow.”
Kementerian Komunikasi dan Digital (KKD) pandang serius aksi sangat biadab kumpulan The 1975.
During The 1975’s headline set on Friday, Healy told the crowd: “I made a mistake. When we were booking the shows I didn’t look into it. I don’t see the bloody point, well, I don’t see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”
He continued: “I’m sorry if it offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your goddamn government, but your government is a bunch of goddamn retards and I don’t care anymore. If you push, I’m going to push back. I’m not in a fucking mood, I’m not in a fucking mood.”
Healy later told the crowd that the night would not feature a set of their more “uplifting” material due to his frustration.
“Unfortunately you don’t get a set of lots of uplifting songs because I’m bloody furious and it’s not fair on you because you’re not a representative of your government,” he said. “Because you’re young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive and cool. So I pulled the show yesterday and we had a conversation and we said ‘You know what? We can’t let these kids down because they’re not the problem.’
Appearing to refer to the 2019 incident where he kissed a male fan during a show in Dubai, despite strict anti-LGBTQ laws in the Arab state, Healy added: “But I’ve done this before, I’ve gone to a country where I don’t know what the hell it is? Ridiculous. Fucking ridiculous telling people what to do with their dat and dat [points to groin and mouth] and if you want to invite me here to make a show, you can fuck off. I’ll take your money, you can ban me, but I’ve done it before and it doesn’t feel good and I’m screwed.”
Fan-shot footage showed bassist Ross MacDonald walking up to him after his speech and then the two started kissing. After their seventh song, ‘I Couldn’t Be More In Love’, Healy told the crowd they had to leave, claiming the band had “just been banned from Kuala Lumpur”. The 1975 then left the scene.
This year marked the Good Vibes Festival’s 10th edition. The Kid LAROI was to headline on Saturday, and The Strokes on Sunday. Other artists billed for the rest of the weekend include Ty Dolla $ign, Porter Robinson, Lee Hi and DPR LIVE & DPR IAN.
In a lengthy statement sent to the media, festival organizer Future Sound Asia said the cancellation was a “catastrophic financial blow” to the company and would “definitely” have wider ramifications. “We fear it will erode the confidence of music promoters and various stakeholders in the live entertainment industry across the country and threaten the stability of our burgeoning live arts scene,” the statement read.
The statement said the company “maintains[s] our policy requiring all artists performing at our festival to respect and abide by Malaysian law and guidelines”.
“We expect these principles to be maintained during performances. As festival organizers, FSA appreciates the trust our fans and authorities have shown us over the years. We take our role in providing a safe, enjoyable music experience very seriously.”
The statement quoted Future Sound Asia founder Ben Law, who said: “Over the past ten years, we have built Good Vibes Festival to be a uniquely Malaysian platform for enjoyable music experiences. This festival is not a transferable franchise, but a brand built from the ground up on Malaysian soil, cultivated by unyielding dedication, resilience and financial risk.
“Now this decade-long labor of love is facing an unprecedented threat due to the actions of a single individual. This is a very challenging time for us.”
The festival said it is “committed to learning from this experience and taking the necessary steps to strengthen communication with artists and their management teams. We will emphasize the importance of professionalism and compliance with local regulations to ensure that future events are run with even greater care and concern”.
The statement also said it will update ticket holders on “refund mechanics as soon as possible”.