The decision whether to play North Carolina has become a serious dilemma for many national touring acts since the adoption of House Bill 2 – the controversial “bathroom bill.”
Last week Death Cab for Cutie and Chvrches announced that they would honor their co-headlining dates slated for Asheville Saturday and Charlotte June 16. Both bands agreed to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the shows to Freedom Center for Social Justice and Southerners on New Ground – organizations that work to defend the LGBT community in N.C.
“This decision that was made in the middle of the night on behalf of the state of N.C. by the governor was forced upon the state as much as it was forced upon us,” says Death Cab bassist Nick Harmer, calling from Cleveland on Thursday. “We had shows booked there, and it goes against our morals and ethics and the way we feel the world should be.”
The groups struggled with the decision.
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“How do we honor our obligations and not betray, at the same time, our personal feelings?” says Harmer.
Like Against Me!, Brandi Carlile, Dead & Company and other artists who’ve donated portions of proceeds to organizations aimed at protecting equal rights in light of HB2, Death Cab decided to keep the date. But the band didn’t want to stop at a portion of the proceeds; instead, all profits will go to the beneficiaries they’ve designated, and the show at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly Uptown Amphitheatre) is billed as a Stand Against HB2 Benefit Show.
“It felt wrong to profit in a state where this was happening. This kind of decision has a direct impact on our friends and the kinds of shows we want to host and play. It was never a question,” he says. “It took speaking with Southerners on New Ground and their input (to decide ) how we could have the shows be meaningful.”
Harmer and the band are obviously passionate about the issue, and say as a benefit the show can reflect who Death Cab is as a band.
“It blows my mind that someone would draw up a non-issue. That bigotry would be hiding behind something that doesn’t exist. Haven’t we progressed further than that as a society here?” he adds.
“We hear stories all the time about infringements on basic human rights. That to me is a very simple thing to suss out,” says Harmer. “That doesn’t seem like it’s debatable to me. It shouldn’t be applied as it seems fit.”
He remembers playing San Diego following George W. Bush’s second presidential win.
“I remember feeling defeat,” he recalls. “It came out in the show as anger, with those feelings coming out in the crowd, but in a really cathartic way. Our shows are our community. This is our environment, and these are our people. If there’s something in our community that’s impacting our world, that energy carries, it feeds and reacts and creates all kinds of different emotions along the way.”
Death Cab for Cutie
When: 7 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 704-916-8970; www.livenation.com.