Bands Pull Out Of Anti-EU Music Festival After They Learn It's Anti-EU
Bpoplive organisers at Leave.EU promised "some of Britain's hottest artists", but acts were bewildered to hear about the event's pro-Brexit message when contacted by BuzzFeed News.
Musicians booked to appear at the UK's first ever anti-European Union music festival have told BuzzFeed News they are personally in favour of British membership of the EU.
Bpoplive, which is due to take place on 8 May at the 15,000-capacity Genting Arena in Birmingham, is funded and organised by Leave.EU, a pro-Brexit campaign group founded by Arron Banks, UKIP's biggest donor.
According to a press release announcing the event, Bpoplive will feature "some of Britain's hottest artists as well as speeches from leading personalities and politicians who support leaving the EU", and the event "will be the first of its kind in the UK".
It is designed to get young people excited about June's EU referendum, since campaigners have identified them as being a key demographic who could swing the result.
However, several of the artists booked to appear were baffled when told the event was backed by Leave.EU.
A spokesperson for drum'n'bass act Sigma, who are billed as one of the headliners, said they "are in no way supporting the event" when asked whether they were in favour of Britain voting to leave the EU.
Following the inquiry from BuzzFeed News, the duo's management team also said they would no longer be appearing at Bpoplive, despite having confirmed the date on their own website's gig page.
Tom Hyland of the Electric Swing Circus, who are also booked to appear at the event, said his band "are not pro-Brexit" and said that while they do not have a collective stance on the debate "as a group we are generally pro EU".
Other acts appeared to be unaware that they had been booked for a political rally.
"I didn’t even know it was about that to be honest," said a representative for DJ Luck and MC Neat, when asked whether the duo – best known for the 1999 UK garage classic "A Little Bit of Luck" – were endorsing the anti-EU movement by appearing at the event.
He said he would discuss the political implications of their appearance further with the band, but did not provide a further response.
The full lineup of the event has yet to be officially announced with just a month to go, leaving some doubt over who will be making up the rest of the bill. The event's website said other acts will be announced soon.
Some versions of the Bpoplive lineup continue to advertise the singer Ella Eyre as appearing but her spokesperson said "she isn’t playing and never confirmed", when asked whether she supported Brexit.
Rumours that Pixie Lott was due to appear on the bill have also been quashed by her publicist.
The only other act now confirmed for the £20-a-ticket event at the arena formerly known as the NEC is Phats & Small, who had their biggest hit with "Turn Around" in 1999.
Phats & Small did not respond to a request for comment, meaning their views on whether the UK would be able to survive on its own as a secure and independent trading nation outside the EU following a period of treaty renegotiation remain unknown.
A spokesperson for Leave.EU insisted the event was not an anti-EU music festival and said the inclusion of the Leave.EU logo on early promotional material and the reference to anti-EU speakers in the original press release was a mistake.
"That was misbriefed," the spokesperson said. "There was a miscommunication between us and the people putting it on. You've got the wrong end of the stick."
Instead, Leave.EU said the event would be about getting young people signed up on the electoral register, regardless of their political affiliation: "The idea came from a thing in the states organised by MTV called Rock the Vote, with the message in between the acts, in the same way the BBC does Children in Need."
The spokesperson said they were meeting today to confirm further Bpoplive acts, but had suffered setbacks after musicians booked to appear were "hounded by the press and acts started pulling out".
They said: “We’ve booked chart-topping bands for it – it’s not going to be for older people."