KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A well known hip-hop artist has canceled his Kansas City show after learning his concert venue had also booked a controversial band for a show later this month. Talib Kweli was scheduled to perform at the Riot Room at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
The night before the show, the artist notified Riot Room management that he wouldn't perform after learning the venue had booked the band Taake, a black metal band from Norway accused of having ties to white supremacists. At the time, Taake was scheduled to show at the Riot Room on March 31.
Kweli issued the following statement about his decision to cancel his show:
My position is that the venue should not want to host that band whether the band cancelled or not, and should issue an apology for even booking the band. 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. 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 cancelled the show. It's a shame because I was really looking forward to performing in Kansas City.
Many Kweli fans in the metro were looking forward to the concert and bought tickets months in advance.
“I’m a huge fan of Talib Kweli and was excited that an artist like him would be performing in Kansas City. I bought myself tickets around Christmas for this show.” Said Rickey Turner.
“I found out [it was canceled] last night when I was getting together some clothes to wear to the event the next day. I was upset, but then I understood,” Turner explained.
On Wednesday afternoon the Riot Room issued a statement on their Facebook page announcing their decision to cancel the Taake show scheduled for the end of march:
“We have decided to cancel the Taake event scheduled to be held March 31st at The Riot Room. Refunds will be processed immediately for anyone who purchased tickets. As a venue, it is our priority to provide a safe, inclusive, and enjoyable environment for all patrons, artists, and staff. This always has, and will always continue to be our primary goal.”
Those who bought tickets to Wednesday night’s Talib Kweli concert are still waiting to hear if, or when they will be issued refunds. We have reached out to The Riot Room management for comment and they haven't returned our calls.
Taake's upcoming shows in New York, Chicago, and Vancouver were canceled after Antifa groups encouraged the public to contact the venues, Newsweek reported. The band's opening act, goth-country musician King Dude, has also dropped out of the tour.
A Nebraska Antifa group directed a tweet at the Riot Room on Feb. 9, asking, "You do know they sing about killing Muslims while displaying swastikas, right?"
Taake's frontman Hoest sparked controversy in 2007 after performing in Essen, Germany with a swastika drawn on his chest.
Hoest has denied being racist and said in a statement they are "not a political Nazi band."
"Everyone should know by now that our whole concept is built upon provocation and anything evil ... We truly apologize to all of our collaborators who might get problems because of the Essen swastika scandal (except for the untermensch owner of that club; you can go suck a Muslim)!" the band posted on their website after the initial controversy in 2007.
The band was also accused of Islamophobia after they were nominated for a Norwegian music award in 2012. The band responded to the accusations in a statement to Norwegian newspaper The Local.
"Taake has never been a political band, and we do not encourage either violence or racism," adding, "our view, in the name of freedom of expression, is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam. Incidentally, Christianity is mentioned in the same lyrics, but that doesn't seem to have been given any emphasis."