Bands boycott Download Festival over sponsor Barclays' links to Israel, arms firms

Bands boycott Download Festival over sponsor Barclays' links to Israel, arms firms
Pest Control, Speed, Scowl and Zulu are among the bands that have announced that they are pulling out of the festival.
2 min read
13 June, 2024
Download Festival sponsor Barclaycard is on the BDS movement's target list [Getty]

Several bands have cancelled their shows at the UK's Download Festival in protest against payment partner Barclaycard and its ties to arms firms supplying Israel.

Barclaycard, which is on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement's list of  exclusion targets, is sponsoring the rock and heavy metal festival due to take place from 14 to 16 June.

Pest Control, Speed, Scowl and Zulu are all among the bands that have announced their pulling out of the festival.

 “We cannot sacrifice the principles held by this band and by the scene we come from and represent, just for personal gain,” Pest Control wrote in a post on Instagram on Monday.

On Tuesday, British band Ithaca also joined the boycott, telling The Guardian that once they were "made aware of Barclays’ involvement in Download we knew we could no longer participate”.

Metal band Overpower said in a statement that they had pulled out "due to the sponsorship of Barclays Bank and their involvement in the genocide in Gaza and the West Bank”, adding that they "stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine”.

Barclays is one of several international firms that has come under increased scrutiny over ties to arms firms, amid Israel's brutal assault on the Gaza Strip.

The bank was also the target of Palestine Action and Shut The System activists this week, who smashed windows and splashed red paint at 20 Barclays branches across the UK.

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According to the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Barclays "holds over £2bn in shares, and provides £6.1bn in loans and underwriting” to firms arming Israel's military.

In a statement regarding its relationship with Israeli arms firm Elbit, Barclays said: “We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors.”

The Download festival boycott follows similar actions by artists set to perform at UK music festivals.

Irish singer CMAT cancelled her appearance at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk over Barclays' sponsorship of the event, saying she "will not allow my precious work, my music… to get into bed with violence".

Last month, more than 100 artists pulled out of the Great Escape Festival in Brighton over Barclays' involvement.