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Mannequin Pussy and Girl in Red Defend Decisions to Play Coachella

Independent artists want to explain, rather than celebrate, their presence at the Philip Anschutz-owned festival.

by Josh Terry
Jan 6 2020, 5:11pm

On Friday, Coachella unveiled the massive lineup for the 2020 iteration of the Indio, California-based festival. The two-weekend event, happening April 10-12 and April 17-19, is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz of the entertainment conglomerate AEG, a rich guy who's notorious for donating to right-wing causes like anti-LGBT organizations Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the National Christian Foundation. In 2017, Anschutz angrily dismissed the criticism over his political donations as "fake news."

But despite his defensive denial and assurances that his Anschutz Foundation is no longer donating to those causes, playing Coachella is still an ethical dilemma for many progressive-minded artists. This isn't just a question of whether or not playing the festival is "selling out." This year, headliners Rage Against the Machine—a band known for their left-wing lyrics and activism—have remained conspicuously silent about their decision to play, but acts on the undercard have been more transparent. Facing pushback on social media, both Philadelphia punks Mannequin Pussy, and Norwegian pop singer girl in red have felt the need to explain to fans why they've agreed to play the hyper-corporate, influencer-infested festival.

In a Twitter statement, Mannequin Pussy writes, "as a band who wants to share our music with the widest audience possible and as band with women, POC, and queer members we wanted to be represented and seen at a music festival of this level." Read the full post below.

The band elaborated in a follow-up post: "We still play independently owned venues & DIY. But the reality is that in some cities our band has grown bigger than what those spaces can give. In Boston, for example, if we want to play a safe all ages 500+ venue then the Sinclair is the only option (and it's owned by AEG)."

Singer Marie Ulven Ringheim—aka girl in red—also responded to pushback about playing the festival on Instagram, writing in a reply, "instead of being silenced, staying home and boicotting some conservative 80-year- old-homophobic-rich-white man who made anti lgbt+ donations in 2010-2013. i gonna play a fucking lit gay ass show and create a safe and accepting space for all the queer and straight ppl attending." She continues,

coachella is owned by AEG, which philip anschutz owns. philip anschutz made the donations. the people who actually make coachella happen, are the volunteers and employers, and all the thousands of people who are attending. after my understanding the festival itself is lgbtq+ friendly and a place where people are allowed to express themselves. i do see your point, and when i was asked to play, i had to think a alot about it. because i do not support his actions. and im pretty sure frank ocean whos a gay headliner doesn’t support him either.this situation isnt black and white and there are many sides to it. all i know is that i wanna be on the right side of history, and for me, that is to do something out of love, rather than not doing something because of someone elses hate


Anyway, don't forget to read our completely serious reviews of every act playing Coachella 2020.

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Coachella
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Rage Against The Machine
mannequin pussy
AEG
Philip Anschutz
girl in red