SPEED Drop Off Download Festival Over Sponsor Boycott

11 June 2024 | 10:58 am | Mary Varvaris

Last month, 25% of the line-up of the UK showcase festival The Great Escape boycotted the event due to its ties with Barclays.


SPEED (Credit: James Hartley)

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Australian rising hardcore band SPEED have pulled out of the UK’s premier hard rock and heavy metal music festival, Download, in protest of the event’s sponsor, Barclays Bank.

Barclays has faced controversy this year for its financial involvement in companies that supply weapons to Israel, with artists including Scowl, Zulu and Pest Control pulling out of Download, all unwilling to support the festival or its sponsor during the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.

Taking to X (formerly known as Twitter) overnight (11 June), SPEED wrote, “SPEED will no longer be playing Download Festival this Friday June 14 due to the recent news of Barclays Banks sponsorship of the event and their involvement in the war in Gaza.”

Last month, 25% of the line-up of the UK showcase festival The Great Escape boycotted the event due to its ties with Barclays. Earlier this year, artists protested against SXSW’s alleged connections to defence industry partnerships supplying weapons to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) launched the Boycott Barclays campaign in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which has seen tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians killed since 7 October 2023.

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In response to the criticism the bank has received, a statement on the Barclays Q&A website reads: “Barclays has been the subject of criticism in relation to Gaza based on two arguments: that Barclays is an investor in these businesses, and that we provide a range of financial services to clients which produce equipment used by the Israeli Defence Force.”

The statement continued, “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.

“An associated claim is that we invest in Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer which also supplies the UK armed forces with equipment and training. For the reasons mentioned, it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit.

“We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors. We note also that Elbit is highlighted because campaigners claim it makes cluster bombs. We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components.”

Last week, SPEED announced their largest-ever Australian tour and maintained their stance on standing up for Palestine as the war continues.

$10,000 from tickets sold on their upcoming tour will go to the not-for-profit Merciful Group, which runs a Gaza Emergency Fund. The band will also donate $10,000 of ticket sales to the Women's and Girls' Emergency Centre (WAGEC).

SPEED will release their highly anticipated debut album, ONLY ONE MODE, via Last Ride Records on Friday, 12 July.