Irish artists, including Kneecap and Gavin James, pull out of SXSW festival in solidarity with Gaza

Musicians drop put of South by Southwest line-up as a result of US army’s sponsorship of arts festival in Austin, Texas

A number of Irish artists have pulled out of the South by Southwest festival in solidarity with the people of Gaza, citing the US army’s sponsorship of the event in Austin, Texas.

Irish language rap group Kneecap, as well as bands Soda Blonde and Sprints, have also cited the presence of a subsidiary company of weapons manufacturer RTX Corporation at SXSW as a reason for cancelling appearances at the film, media, music and culture festival.

Singer songwriter Gavin James has also announced his decision to pull out of the festival.

Kneecap announced its decision to pull out of SXSW on social media on Sunday, cancelling three scheduled shows at the festival. “It is done in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the US military who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population,” the group said.


The group said that they could not “in good conscience” attend the event, given the US army’s sponsorship of the festival, and the “platforming” of RTX Corporation, formerly Raytheon.

The US army is signed on as a “super sponsor” of SXSW festival, according to a post on the military’s website.

Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary company of RTX, will have a presence at the festival in Austin. RTX, one of the largest defence companies the world, is known to supply weapons to the Israeli government.

“These organisations are literally profiting from and facilitating war crimes,” Kneecap continued.

“That the organisers of SXSW have taken the decision to mix the arts with the military and weapons companies in unforgivable, that they have done so as we witness a genocide facilitated by the US military and its contractors is depraved,” they said.

Bands Soda Blonde and Sprints have followed suit, pulling out of the festival for similar reasons.

In a statement, Soda Blonde said that the US army’s sponsorship of the event – as well as links to RTX Corporation – is in stark conflict with the “core principles and values” of the band.

“This information has prompted deep concern within our group, particularly in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Palestine – a situation exacerbated by the US government’s provision of arms to Israel.

“The decision to involve entities directly linked to the global arms trade, and by extension the ongoing atrocities in Palestine, is not just tone-deaf; it’s morally reprehensible.”

Dublin band Sprints said on Instagram that they would pull out of the festival “in solidarity with the Palestinian people and as a stand against the US army sponsorship and defence contractor involvement”.

In announcing his decision to pull out of the festival, Gavin James said that “music and art should always stand on the side of peace and humanity”.

“I will never support any event that is associated with weapons of war,” he said.

SXSW and RTX were both contacted for comment.

Various other international acts have pulled out of the prestigious festival.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist