The organisers of the Good Vibes festival in Kuala Lumpur are taking legal action against the 1975 after frontman Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s punitive anti-LGBTQ+ legislation during their headline set.
On 21 July, Healy told the crowd: “I don’t see the fucking point of inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with. Unfortunately, you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m fucking furious.
“And that’s not fair on you, because you’re not representative of your government. Because you’re young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive and cool.”
He then kissed bass player Ross MacDonald. Healy was drinking alcohol on stage and also broke a drone operated by the festival promoters. Thirty minutes later, seven songs into their set, the band were sent off as Healy told the audience: “All right, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”
The remainder of the three-day festival was called off the following day after an “immediate cancellation directive” was issued by Malaysia’s ministry of communications and digital as part of its “unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws”, according to a statement.
The band subsequently cancelled their forthcoming gigs in Indonesia and Taiwan and Malaysian authorities banned them from performing in the country.
The festival promoters, Future Sound Asia (FSA), are now pursuing a claim against the British band calling on them to acknowledge liability and compensate FSA for damages incurred. If they fail to do so, FSA will take action in the UK.
FSA claim that Healy’s actions “tarnished” the festival’s reputation and that they “intentionally contravened the agreement [the band] had with FSA”.
Representatives for the band declined to comment when reached by the Guardian.
Healy has subsequently mocked the kiss incident. Muse performed in Malaysia the weekend after the incident and confirmed that they would remove a song with a potentially offensive title from their set: on Instagram, Healy subsequently shared a screenshot of Muse asking fans to “join the resistance” which he captioned “Sick”, followed by a screenshot of a news story about the setlist change captioned “….oh”.
While on stage at Lollapalooza in Chicago this weekend, the 1975 performed a regular gag in which they cut off Healy in the process of saying something controversial. “You want my travel tip?” he said. “Don’t go to—” – and then his bandmates proceeded to play the song It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You).
The FSA claim is the second potential legal case the band will face over the incident. A group of Malaysian musicians and festival vendors are also preparing a class action lawsuit seeking losses incurred as a result of the cancellation.
Mathew Thomas Philip of Malaysian law firm Thomas Philip , which is preparing the class action lawsuit, said: “My view is that the 1975 must be held responsible and accountable for the losses suffered by the artists and vendors.”