18 Comments
Mar 1·edited Mar 1Liked by We Are Scientists

I was so surprised at which subscription would be sending me this article when I read the email subject, and then I made a brand new surprised face when I saw it was from here. Then I laughed! Then I grimaced! Then I pondered. This is genuinely thought provoking. I think concerts for shady people is weird - even for mega popstars, this is weird. Inauthentic and strange just on a human level. Then, with the things their fanbases say to defend them, the mistakes of these people mold the morality of masses.

The unticketed thing might be a big non-issue though.

Also I'm going to take this opportunity to say that one of the reasons I hold this band in my heart and head above all else is the sincere humanness and authenticity that you guys have shown for so many years. My adult life was just starting when I started listening to you and I've always had this sort of example of two people just being good fun humans and doing what they love and making it work without any of the strange sellout strategies which are so recommended to every person trying to make it these days. It seems a bit crazy to say "I'm fine doing what I'm doing because I like what I do" in the face of corporations, leaders, and now even pop stars telling you to hustle every which way until you die, and so in that ocean of desperate work ethics and actions, I've always liked that we have We Are Scientists.

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Mar 1Liked by We Are Scientists

I feel like there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with playing corporates because artists need money for food and shelter but there is something fundamentally wrong with musicians providing positive press and entertainment for ie. homophobes, dictators, etc - and I agree that collapsing the two very distantly connected things into one issue is not helpful.

I also think with ticketing companies and venue ownership being what it is, artists are probably playing for companies whose values do not align with their own in small ways a lot more often than they’d like and I don’t hugely judge anyone for that because there’s not really a way out of it - if you can afford to only play DIY shows at anarchist house parties that’s cool but it makes your music immediately much less accessible to a lot of fans.

It’s nice when artists you like have good politics and shout about it and if that dissuades people with bad politics from going to their shows that can help foster a nicer experience and environment for everyone there - but again, you need to already be in a comfortable position to be able to turn down the money of people who like your songs but you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with.

Still, all that said, I don’t think you guys should have played that party for Orphanage Crushers Inc marking their thousandth orphanage destroyed, not cool.

(PS: Great show in Birmingham last night, death to capitalism, long live We Are Scientists)

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Mar 1Liked by We Are Scientists

An actual real subject/issue with a humorous twist.

Who knew you guys had such depth? Okay, okay, we knew you did, but still...

Similar topic arose the other day. Brighton Pride is one of the biggest Pride events in the UK, and usually have a ‘headline’ act on the Saturday night... you know the type, Kylie, Britney etc... well, not long after condemning acts for playing gigs supporting the Qatar World Cup, they go ahead and book the Black Eyed Peas as the headliner... who only a few months earlier played the said country.

(I mean let’s put aside the fact that the Black Eyed Peas without Fergie is like a Sunday Roast without the Yorkshire Pudding!)...

So we have 3 straight men who have never been known to be allies of the LGBTQ+ community AND recently played a concert in one of the most homophobic countries now expecting to be ‘welcomed’ by said community.

I have no idea what the Brighton & Hove Pride committee where thinking??

To make things worse, since announcing the act on social media, on Instagram they deleted comments, then turned comments off on the post, and even deleted another post on as it was getting a LOT of negative comments! They have also ‘hidden’ many replies to their announcement on Twitter too...

It will be interesting to see if they do go ahead and play & if they do, what reaction will they get? With the current climate surrounding LGBTQ+ rights seemingly going backwards, maybe it’s time to start protesting again?

On the plus side, maybe there’s space for an opening act at Brighton Pride this year fellas??

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Mar 1Liked by We Are Scientists

Wow. This was better written than many an article I’ve read from professionals!

As the article was progressing I was thinking of points to add, then you go touch on all of them, so now I gotta think harder…

From an art perspective, having private shows the regular Joe can’t access made me think of all the Monets, Picassos and Grecos stored away in private collections. Which to me is considerably worse, as at the end of the day we can all still listen to all of Beyonce’s music. Moral dilemmas to the side, me thinks Vice’s journalists is a bit salty that getting Beyonce for their birthday is out of their tax bracket.

For the moral dilemas… should artists play for people that don’t share their beliefs? Should restaurants make you fill up a political questionnaire before you go in? Should doctors fix the broken wrist of an abuser?

Simply enough, the doctor should fix that wrist, but he shouldn’t become pals with him. And the restaurant can’t pick who to serve (if you’re wearing the right garb) but does have the right to ban someone if they don’t behave nicely.

So, should an artist play in a “bad” country? That would depend, at least in my humble opinion, on whether they’ll be able to influence for the good/support those who think like them in that country. Think Lady Gaga’s concert in Russia.

However, if a concert will only help the bad government keep their citizens in terrible conditions, no amount of money should even tempt anyone to accept.

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There are definitely a few different issues here and I don’t know how easy it is to separate them out. The question of Stalin’s birthday party seems pretty clear cut - if you know someone is completely sucky then taking money from them is morally dubious at best and should be regarded as an endorsement of their actions and values. It should be damaging to your reputation to make this choice for financial recompense - especially if you already have money in the bank. Sadly, these days, the capitalist gears of government and society seem to have a bigger sway over moral code than ever - money talks! Outside of music, the recent World Cup in Qatar is a case in point. If you have enough money you can purchase status and acceptability and everyone might ‘tut’ a little at the inequity and discrimination endorsed at a legal level, but not enough to stay away. The more this happens, the more it is normalised and the more acceptable it becomes.

These big, obvious arguments get a little muddier as you move away from the big money and excess though. Does everyone always adhere strictly to their own moral code? Do we sometimes purchase from companies which we know are less than ethical if it is expedient to do so? I would argue that most people do, at least sometimes. Do we have friends and acquaintances that we don’t agree with on the big issues? Do we always call people out on standpoints which could be seen as discriminatory? Where do you draw the line on whether it is ok to be friends with someone? Sometimes the answers to these questions seem obvious, but often they are more complicated. I suppose what I’m saying is that it is easier to hold people with money and influence to a higher standard and maybe that is as it should be, but in the long run I’m not sure how much difference moral indignation makes. If someone like Beyoncé makes a questionable choice, will her fans stop being fans? Probably not.

Obviously, the non-ticketing issue is different, depending on who is paying you, I guess, and shouldn’t really be of concern to anyone. There will always be concerts that people don’t get to attend. It’s not really any different to being a fan in a country where a band never tours, or being priced out of tickets as a band becomes more successful.

That seems like a lot of writing to basically just rehash what you said 🤦🏻‍♀️

Anyway, thank you. It was thought-provoking. Also, your last comment made me a little sad. I think the last few years have made us all realise how hard it is to be away from the people who are important to us so I hope you all made the most of your day off. Chris, you certainly look very happy in that selfie so I’m assuming you did.

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Mar 1Liked by We Are Scientists

Cough it up guys, which one of you hired Beyoncé for your birthday party?

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I reckon Morrissey would play Stalin's birthday

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My Husband gets booked to do these kinds of corporate comedy gigs, and usually it’s just heading to a company’s HQ to do 15 mins of stand up for their employees, usually in aid of something like national anti-racism week. They’re the least fun gigs by far, but they pay our rent. Best rule of thumb is to list all the types of companies you’d never EVER accept money from and go off that. Even things like gambling. Peers in his industry accept voiceover work for lottery/bingo/casino/betting app tv adverts, but these types of things can genuinely ruin people’s lives - the nature of how frequently these things are advertised in the UK and who they aim to target is really alarming!

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I mean, you say WAS aren’t getting rich, but what about all of Keith’s Ferraris?

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It seems that exploitation is just the way the world works in general and our job as humans and workers in this system is to be as benevolent, generous, and selfless in our exploitation of others as possible. Fair wage for fair work, etc. If a worker in any industry is offered a job that conflicts with their values, they should refuse it if they are able to. However, there are lots of reasons they might not be able to, anything from contract obligations to just plain needing the cash. I've been fortunate not to have been placed in that position, so I can't really judge anyone who is.

That said, the comment by Ada about an artist's influence for good is really insightful. Refusing to play for individuals or corporations that have positions the artist disagrees with can be a sign of integrity. Refusing to go to a country because their fans are mad that the government there is engaging in distasteful/criminal/oppressive activities seems ... fraught. For example, how much better is the US than Israel in terms of how it treats segments of its population? *hangs head in shame*

As for unticketed or "private" events, I agree that those are totally different from taking money from questionable sources or even above-board sources. A local radio station here used to have a contest whose winner could have a private show with whatever band agreed to do it. I was lucky enough to win one of those contests and a band that headlines festivals around the world came to my house. I was able to invite about 20 other folks and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I can also remember years and years ago when the mayor of a small town near where I was living in upstate New York somehow got the Psychedelic Furs to play the town's local annual street fair thing. He was so excited when he introduced them - it was very charming. So if you have the means to have an artist you love do something for you alone, whether by money or connections or good fortune in a contest, and the artist is fairly compensated and consenting, I say more power to you! The world needs as much joy as it can get.

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