Talib Kweli refused to play a show at the Riot Room in Kansas City, after he learned staffers booked the Norwegian metal band Taake, who’s been accused, for years now, of being white nationalists. The band is still scheduled to play at the club on March 31, 2018.
”My position is that the venue should not want to host that band whether the band canceled or not and should issue an apology for even booking the band,” wrote Kweli in a statement. “The response I received was that the venue did not want to choose sides between a band that sympathizes with racism and bigotry and me.”
“I think it’s time to choose a side,” he added. “I find it appalling that the Riot Room refuses to apologize for booking this band. I wouldn’t feel safe bringing my team, family and fans into a venue that is sympathetic to white nationalism, so I’ve canceled the show. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to performing in Kansas City.”
Much of the controversy surrounding the Norwegian band has to do with its lead singer Hoest, who’s been accused of targeting minorities — specifically Muslims — with racist, Neo-Nazi lyrics.
Additionally, a little over a decade ago during a show in Germany, Hoest performed with a swastika on his chest, which happens to be illegal in that country. As a result, the remainder of Taake’s Germany dates were canceled.
As of now, no one from the Riot Room has addressed the controversy or Kweli’s statement, nor have they canceled the rock band’s show.
But things turned out differently in New York City after local members of Antifa, a U.S. based anti-fascist group, protested the band playing at the venue (Le) Poisson Rouge. Eventually, the show was canceled after the group rallied people on social media.
“It is our mission to create a safe space for everyone in our community and this show does not meet that standard,” said a (Le) Poisson Rouge marketing director.
An upcoming Taake show in Chicago was also canceled after people in that city spoke out, and Antifa members in other cities are trying to get more shows shut down.
For his part, Hoest said that’s his band isn’t racist, and he’s been pegged all wrong.
“I have clearly explained many times throughout the years that me wearing a swastika once at a German concert was not at all meant to show support for the Nazi ideology,” he wrote. “It was all about doing something extreme for the sake of it, which certainly backfired. But it has now been 11 years and the band has even performed in Israel.”
“Anyway, similar incidents have not happened in Taake’s 25 year long career and will obviously not happen again. But certain parties seem to find this cold case unforgivable nevertheless, insisting on a wilful misunderstanding,” he added.
Surely, Neo-Nazi bands or White Power Rock, as it’s also called, certainly isn’t a new musical genre and these days it’s being used more than ever to recruit and mobilize white nationalists.
“Racist ideologies and ideas are also disseminated through music and particularly the lyrics of Neo-Nazi bands which produce music variously called Hatecore, Oi!, Volk Music, White Power Rock and the like,” wrote the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The dominant themes of this genre of music are white supremacy, vilification of Jews, race war, violence and (since the 1990s) ‘Odinist’ religious themes.”
“Racist music is principally derived from the far-right skinhead movement, and through the Internet, this music has become perhaps the most important tool of the international Neo-Nazi movement to gain revenue and new recruits,” added the organization.
Since Donald Trump has taken office and the white nationalist march happened in Charlottesville, some have begun to disassociate themselves from white power rock.
In 2017, for example, Spotify removed all 37 bands from their library. Apple Music also did the same years prior, and it’s not clear what took Spotify so long to act.
Since Kweli canceled his show at the Riot Room he’s gotten a lot of support on social media, and he’s also sparked a conversation on white nationalist rock bands.
We also reached out to the Riot Room to ask why the Taake show hasn’t been canceled, and we’ve yet to get a response.