This might seem like a no-brainer, but whether you’re a budding New York Times columnist or a venue that books artists across a wide variety of genres, it’s not the best idea to align yourselves with racists, Nazi sympathizers, or actual Nazis. Norwegian black metal band Taake and venues that booked them on their latest North American tour are starting to face consequences, after Antifa groups called attention to the band’s frontman Hoest performing with a swastika drawn on his chest in 2007 and Taake’s anti-Muslim lyrics.
The band has been dropped from its upcoming show at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge amidst pressure from activists, and their opener, post-punk musician King Dude, pulled out of the tour entirely on Monday. Backlash has also rippled to venues that booked the band simply by association—rapper Talib Kweli canceled his show at Kansas City’s Riot Room after it came to his attention that the venue also booked Taake. Kweli released a statement to Pitchfork, explaining his decision to drop the show:
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 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.
As unapologetic, unmistakable Nazism has seen an ugly resurgence stateside, it has led many who might’ve used the iconography to be extreme, edgy, or whatever, in the past, to distance themselves from actual Nazis. Taake swore in a Friday, February 16 Facebook post that the swastika incident was a one-off, that they aren’t a racist band, and that they wanted to ruffle feathers without implying support for Nazi ideology:
“I have clearly explained many times throughout the years that me wearing a swastika once at a German concert was not at all meant to show support for the nazi ideology. It was all about doing something extreme for the sake of it, which certainly backfired. But it has now been 11 years and the band has even performed in Israel (!) Anyway, similar incidents have not happened in Taake’s 25 year long career and will obviously not happen again. But certain parties seem to find this cold case unforgivable nevertheless, insisting on wilful misunderstanding. So, once and for all, Taake is not a racist band. Never has been, never will be. Still claiming so is as ridiculous and unfounded as are the attempts at sabotaging our highly anticipated shows.”
There are obviously better ways to communicate that you aren’t a white nationalist sympathizer than wearing a swastika during a public event, but there are few better ways to disincentivize venues from booking bands like Taake than Kweli’s cancellation. This is just one band and one tour, in a genre that still has many, many more ties to Nazism, but it’s a start.