Mannequin Pussy: “Why We’re Playing Coachella”

Marcus Maddox

Mannequin Pussy: “Why We’re Playing Coachella”

Marcus Maddox

Mannequin Pussy are on the lineup for Coachella 2020, and the band has posted an explanation of why they decided to play in response to criticism that Coachella is supported by AEG owner Philip Anschutz, who in the past his donated money to conservative organizations with anti-LGBTQ views.

“We took time to discuss this decision but ultimately decided that 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,” the band wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Here’s their full response:

Coachella as a music festival does not explicitly donate $$ to anti lgbtq groups but the owner of AEG Philip Anshutz (the corporation that bought Golden Voice which is the company that puts on and books coachella) has a history of donating his money to anti lgbtq orgs. According to tax records that Pitchfork found he and his organization may have stopped doing so in 2016 but who knows what old rich white men really do with their money and I don’t know what they’ve given to since.

What I do know is that the network of what AEG owns makes it close to impossible to do a mass boycott of all venues/festivals which are tied to him. It seems like almost half the venues in the US are owned by AEG or Live Nation – two major corporations that more or less run the music industry.

For example, in NYC alone AEG owns Brooklyn Steel, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Rough Trade nyc, terminal 5, and Webster hall (just to name a few). Going to a show at any of those venues puts your money back into AEG hands. In Boston you would find a similar pattern. I don’t wish to wave the flag of “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” but it is extremely tricky for bands to be sustainable or successful without being tied to these major corporations.

We took time to discuss this decision but ultimately decided that 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. We completely understand that some people will not agree with us but it is something we are aware of and discussed prior.

We are sorry if our decision to play let’s you down – these decisions aren’t easy as the music industry is extremely murky and very quickly becoming a monopoly in terms of who owns venues.

In a follow-up reply, the band expanded: “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 its owned by AEG).”

Mannequin Pussy aren’t the only act answering their fans about playing Coachella. The queer Norwegian pop artist Girl In Red also responded to criticism over her playing Coachella in the comments of an Instagram post:

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.

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

Check out our annual thoughts on the 2020 Coachella poster.

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