I’ve been a fan of The 1975 since the 2014 Tumblr days; you know, the good old days when everyone had to own a pair of Dr Martens, chokers, and only had black-coloured clothing. The 1975 garnered a large following during then. The band had recently surged up in popularity once again, even after the end of that era when a verse of their recent hit ‘About You’ went viral on TikTok.
A controversial stunt pulled by Matty Healy, the frontman of the English pop-rock band at the Good Vibes Festival 2023, has taken over social media by storm. The stunt, caused by Healy, got an entire three-day festival cancelled. That’s right; one individual shut down the whole festival.
What Went Down
So for those who don’t know what happened, lay back and let me spill the tea for you. (Get it? Because he’s British.)
The 1975 were set to perform at the Good Vibes Festival 2023, a three-day festival organised by Future Sound Asia (FSA) from 21, 22 and 23 July at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The festival is an ultimate celebration of music, culture and community, featuring various international and local artists, such as Daniel Caesar, The Strokes and more.
On their first day, Healy gave a speech criticising the Malaysian government’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws during his show at the Good Vibes Festival, even saying that he was “not in the f–king mood” about the whole situation.
Healy is known to be a strong advocate of the LGBTQ+ Community and is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, frequently promoting LGBT rights through various platforms. One instance was when Healy protested anti-LGBT laws in Dubai by kissing a male fan during the band’s concert.
“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 telling us who we can have sex with,” continued Healy. Upon finishing his rant, Healy kissed his fellow male bassist, Ross MacDonald.
In all honesty, this could have all been avoided. It is well-known among The 1975 fans that Healy acts like he is starting controversial statements such as “So Asian people are…” before getting cut off by fellow bandmate Adam Hann by starting the next song.
Recent events have got me asking where Hann was when he was needed the most or if his guitar was on mute that day. If Hann had swooped in, perhaps the festival would have gone by smoothly. After the kiss, the band continued performing for a while before announcing they had been banned from Malaysia and asked to leave the stage immediately.
But that’s not all; the kiss wasn’t the only antic. A few incidents happened before the dramatic kiss between the two band members. They might not be as amusing as the kiss, but they are nonetheless questionable.
Amidst his rant, Healy took hold of a drone and smashed it onto the stage. Whether or not it was for dramatic purposes or to emphasise his point further, it was a rather expensive way to do so.
Healy also reportedly spat on stage (UGH!), which got onto some of the fans. Audiences who managed to secure front-row spots have even shared their disgust and confusion upon witnessing the incidents. Not that I blame them; I would be disgusted, too, if someone’s spit got on me.
The 1975 will have to face the proper consequences for Healy’s actions, such as getting banned permanently from Malaysia, but let’s look at the bigger picture.
Not only was one date of the festival cancelled, all three dates were; the entire festival. So what does this mean? Well, because the whole festival was cancelled, it affected other parties too; ticket holders, food vendors, sponsors, partners, and of course, the other featured artists. Much of their planning and prepping has gone to waste.
The cancellation also “represents a catastrophic financial blow for FSA. However, the repercussions of this incident extend beyond us. We fear it will erode the confidence of music promoters and various stakeholders in the live entertainment industry across the nation and threaten the stability of our burgeoning live arts scene,” according to FSA’s full official statement.
The FSA will have to heavily bear the consequences of Healy’s actions as they were responsible for bringing the band to perform, which is unfortunate considering that it was not their direct fault.
Of course, Healy’s actions would have disappointed their Malaysian fans. But bear in mind, The 1975 weren’t the only artists set to perform that day. Fans of other artists must have felt that it was unfair that they never got the chance to watch the other artists perform. The fallout has had a two-fold effect.
Speaking of other artists, many international artists had to fly into Malaysia to perform. Imagine surviving a long and tiring flight just to find out your gig has been cancelled. One of the international artists who was set to perform was Australian singer-songwriter rapper The Kid LAROI, who posted on his Instagram story saying that he and his team had just landed in Malaysia when they received the news of the cancellation of the festival and even apologised to fans.
Not only did international artists have to fly in, but international fans too. Fans must have spent quite a substantial amount on transport and accommodation. Although their festival tickets will get refunded, what about their accommodation and flight fees?
Perhaps Healy’s intentions had some good to them; wanting to fight for the individuals who were part of the Malaysian LGBT Community is a noble cause. But his actions might have done more harm than good. According to TikTok user @akidnamedrufus, a Malaysian and a part of the LGBTQ+ Community, Healy’s actions might have potentially caused danger and threat for individuals of the Malaysian LGBTQ+ Community.
He also highlighted that: “That’s not to say that Malaysians are all homophobic, as there is a queer community and I believe a lot of Gen-Z/Millenial Malaysia are more woke and accepting of LGBTQ+ folks, but Malaysian are all aware of what our government systems are like and how acts like these can hurt marginalised communities more than help them.”
Personal Thoughts & Takeaways
Although Healy’s intentions might have been good, such as creating a safe space for the Malaysians who were a part of the LGBTQ Community, it is a wonder why no proper background research was done on his part before voicing out his beliefs and criticism of the anti-LGBTQ laws set by the Malaysian government. It did nothing good and ultimately created more damage for other parties and the LGBTQ Community in Malaysia included.
FSA’s official statement states, “Prior to the festival, the 1975 management team reassured us that Healy and the band would adhere to local performance guidelines. Regrettably, 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.”
Evidently, there was no miscommunication involved that could have led to this catastrophe, making it highly unfair for the FSA to bear most of the consequences ultimately.
To make matters worse, fans and everyone affected have yet to receive the proper apology they rightfully deserve from the band.
Although I have been a fan and enjoy listening to their music regularly, I do not support nor condone Healy’s actions. And though I was not personally affected by the incident, I felt guilty for attending their recent show in Singapore.
Guilt because, in a sense, I supported someone who did not respect the laws and beliefs of another country and forced his beliefs and opinions onto others. Of course, the guilt only intensified when I pictured myself in the shoes of Malaysian fans. Because as a Malay Muslim myself, I do somewhat understand how the Malaysian fans might have felt.
As much as I support a country evolving and moving forward, one has to consider and, most importantly, understand the country’s background. While his rants about the Malaysian government are valid to a certain extent, it was giving “white saviour” vibes.
And that has got me thinking even further. Was it because Healy is a narcissist, or did he feel the need to pull off the stunts to stay relevant? Maybe it was somewhere between those two, but with the band’s silence beyond its announcements on the cancellations of its Indonesia and Taiwan shows, it looks like we’ll never truly know.
Visuals courtesy of Good Vibes Festival. Photos by Sharleen Nadya of the DANAMIC Team.