Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Good Vibes Festival Announces Return After Controversy With The 1975

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Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival will return this summer following an incident last year when the event was cut short during The 1975‘s headlining set. Frontman Matty Healy harshly criticized the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance onstage at the three-day Kuala Lumpur festival, resulting in a cancelation of the following two days.

“I am sorry if that offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don’t care anymore,” Healy told the audience. “If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood.”

Following the show’s seventh song, “I Couldn’t Be More in Love,” the gig was abruptly cut short, with Healy telling the crowd they “just got banned from Kuala Lumpur.” In a statement, organizers of the Good Vibes fest confirmed that the 1975’s set had been cut short due to “non-compliance with local performance guidelines.”

The following day, organizers said Healy’s “controversial conduct and remarks” had prompted Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Digital to issue an “immediate cancellation directive,” forcing the festival to shut down. The 1975 also announced that they would be canceling the rest of their Asian tour. 

This year, Good Vibes Festival is set to take place on July 20 and 21 at the Resorts World Awana in Genting Highlands, Malaysia, and will feature performances by J. Balvin, Peggy Gou, Joji, BIBI, Alec Benjamin, and more. Wan Alman, Future Sound Asia’s Director of Entertainment, spoke to NME about returning, but could not comment specifically on The 1975 due to ongoing legal proceedings with the band. He noted that the controversy was “pretty much an isolated incident” in the festival’s history.

“Despite what happened last year, the government has actually been quite supportive,” Alman said. “They want to work with us hand-in-hand to make sure that that sort of thing doesn’t happen again and that the live music industry and the festival industry isn’t adversely affected by what happened.”

He continued, “We have been working with government authorities in workshops with PUSPAL (Central Committee for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes) to come up with [standing operating procedures] to deal with incidents such as what happened last year, and also to refine and improve PUSPAL guidelines. The good thing is that Good Vibes Festival is not banned so we’re doing it again this year.”

Alman explained that the booking process has become more cautious. “If anything, it would’ve made promoters more careful in which acts they want to book and probably make them more diligent in clearly informing the artists that these are the things you can and cannot do when performing in Malaysia,” he said.

Following The 1975’s chaotic performance, which has resulted in legal action against the band by Future Sound Asia, Good Vibes Festival wasn’t sure it would be able to continue. But Alman said they decided to change it to two days and switch up the venue for 2024.

“We’re not going to let this one bad incident ruin everything that we’ve worked for,” he told NME. “We’ve worked too hard for this. That’s when we decided that we’re going to go ahead with Good Vibes 2024 but at that point, we didn’t know in what form. We were still going through various iterations of what we could make work.”


Concerts in Malaysia now notoriously engage what is called a “kill switch” for artists, which means the entire production can be stopped with a single button. In November, it was in play during Coldplay’s concert at the National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur in case of offended cultural sensibilities. NME asked Alman about the kill switch, which he said “has still not been standardized” and “each promoter and organizer has their own version of it.”

“For us, the kill switch is a system where we can immediately cut off audio, video and lights on the stage,” he said. “Of course, this is always a nuclear option, it’s the very last resort. We have other protocols in place about who can call for stage closure and when we can call for it. We’re not going to call for it if an artist starts smoking a cigarette onstage; we’re just going to stop them and tell them they can’t do that. There will be various scenarios and degrees of severity, and what happened last year would be the most severe, where we cut everything off.”

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