Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst responds to Arizona promoter’s boycott concerns

07.02.10 7 years ago 12 Comments

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Zack de la Rocha’s The Sound Strike boycott of Arizona — artists skipping the state in their tour itineraries in protest of the controversial immigration law — has picked up more big-name acts like David Fincher collaborator Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails and masochistic Adam Levine and his Maroon 5.

But at least one concert promoter in the Southwestern state has a problem with the protest, even though he opposes the legislation himself. Indie promoter Charlie Levy wrote an open letter last week urging artists to consider who they’re really hurting with their boycott.

“By not performing in Arizona, artists are harming the very people and places that foster free speech and the open exchange of ideas that serve to counter the closed-mindedness recently displayed by the new law,” he wrote in the Arizona Republic last week. “Every concert venue and promoter in the state would be happy to help coordinate voter-registration drives and set up information booths in connection with concerts. Many of us are already planning specific events, including rallies and concerts, designed to educate and encourage local music lovers to get involved at this crucial time. This open letter is a call out to all artists to come take a stand and perform in Arizona. We need you now more than ever.”

According to Sound Strike signee and frequent activist Conor Oberst, it’s a hit that promoters are just going to have to take for now. And sorry.

“A boycott is, inherently, a blunt instrument.  It is an imperfect weapon, a carpet bomb, when all involved would prefer a surgical strike,” Oberst wrote in his own open letter.  “I agree with you in part… that the authors and supporters of SB1070 could give a sh*t whether or not my band, or any other Artist, ever plays Arizona again… But it is an important part none-the-less for awareness and messaging.   The Boycott has to be so widespread and devastating that the Arizona State Legislature and Governor have no choice but to repeal their unconstitutional, immoral and hateful law.  It has to hurt them in the only place they feel any pain, their pocketbooks.

“Charlie, I consider you a friend and you have always been great to my bands and me.  I have played for you many times and I hope to do so again soon in New Mexico or anywhere else.  I sincerely look forward to the day when I can return to Arizona and this will all seem like a bad dream.  But I can’t come back now.  I’m sorry. I hope you will understand.”

How do you feel about artists’ boycott of Arizona? Do you think it will help their cause?

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