Sticky Fingers withdraw from music festival after calls for boycotts

Dylan Frost, lead singer of the Australian band Sticky Fingers.
Dylan Frost, lead singer of the Australian band Sticky Fingers. The band withdrew from the This That festival lineup after a public backlash. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Australian band Sticky Fingers have withdrawn from music festival This That following a public campaign calling for boycotts, after allegations that the lead singer Dylan Frost racially abused and threatened Indigenous artist Thelma Plum in 2016.

This That posted a statement on Monday apologising to those who were upset by their initial lineup, and offering refunds. They said the decision for Sticky Fingers to withdraw from the Newcastle event came after “long discussions”.

“Sticky Fingers agreed with This That from the start that if their inclusion began to impact negatively on the other artists performing and our Newcastle and wider communities, that it would be best if they refrain from performing. That’s the decision we have both taken today.”

The festival said the initial decision to book them was “not taken lightly, as there were many serious and complex issues to consider from several perspectives, and we realised there would be debate about their suitability to be included”.

The lineup was announced in late June, a few weeks after a transgender woman alleged that Frost had been asked to leave a Sydney pub following a verbal altercation in which he allegedly screamed and swore at her.

A Sticky Fingers spokesperson didn’t deny that an altercation occurred, but claimed the woman, Alexandra V Tanygina, and her male friend had started it.

Soon after This That released their lineup, the festival issued a statement responding to criticism, saying they were “aware of the rumours and allegations surrounding recent behaviour of some of the members of the band Sticky Fingers” but would “not be commenting further on the band’s personal matters”.

Since then, backlash against This That has become more vocal, spearheaded on Twitter by LGBT activist Sally Rugg, musician Miss Blanks, and band Camp Cope, with many calling other bands booked to play the festival to boycott instead.

In a separate statement released on Monday, Sticky Fingers said they were “disappointed to announce that we decided to withdraw” from This That, saying “the perpetrated negativity from a small pocket of the music industry that has been aimed at us ... needs to be quarantined so it doesn’t affect other innocent parties”, including other bands on the lineup who had been “bullied and dragged through the mud for no fault of their own”.

“We are 100% behind making all our performances a safe and enjoyable space for everyone, but we also feel like the lead up to the show should be safe and enjoyable,” they continued.

“We have had to address allegations against the band multiple times now and there seems to be no means to an end. We have taken steps to positive change and continue to do so.” The band said they had recently completed a sold-out world tour and a new album “entirely sober” amid “rehab and continued therapy”.

“It is very apparent that the Australian music media and some people in the music industry do not care about any of this, let alone us being open about mental health issues with members in the band. There has been nothing in fact, other than one-sided stories against us. Fabricated purely for the sakes of clicks & attention.”

The band went on a year-long hiatus following the initial allegations in 2016 citing “internal issues”, with Frost posting a separate statement apologising for his behaviour and citing alcohol addiction and mental health issues as contributing factors.

They re-emerged in April 2018 as secret headliners of a party in Sydney’s inner-west, leading to backlash from many in the music community.

The decision was defended by organisers Matt and Dan Rule, who wrote in a statement: “They will never be everyone’s cup of tea, but ... we know the truth, and we will never forget the loyalty they have shown us.”