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Enter Shikari on Barclays being dropped as festival sponsor: ‘It felt like a group effort, and I include Download in that’

At Download Festival, Rou Reynolds explains the dialogue between the band and the festival, and how collective action has achieved a result demanded by many bands who have boycotted this festival and others.

By Will Richards

Enter Shikari
Enter Shikari (Picture: Paul Harries)

Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds has spoken to Rolling Stone UK about the boycott from a number of bands and the collective pressure that led Live Nation to drop Barclays as a sponsor of its 2024 festivals.

Yesterday (July 14), LatitudeDownload and Isle of Wight festivals announced that they have dropped the bank as a sponsor following a mass boycott from bands. The festivals all faced a slew of acts pulling out due to their sponsorship deals with Barclays and the bank’s financial ties with Israel, with the campaign led by the Bands Boycott Barclays group.

Speaking to Rolling Stone UK backstage at Download, where they will play later today (July 15), Reynolds explained how his band had been in dialogue with Download about the issue ahead of the festival, and praised organisers’ openness when discussing their sponsorship and the criticism it had faced.

“We’d been talking to Download and other artists for a while, and [the festival] were already very understanding,” he said. “I’m sure they were also already having their own conversations, and the pressure kept mounting. There are all the artists at the other festivals that had an equal if not more of a part to play. It really felt like a group effort, and I include Download in that. A lot of festivals wouldn’t have been as receptive, understanding and considerate.”

Reynolds added: “These things can so often become outrage-fuelled pointing and shouting matches, and outrage is easy but dialogue is hard. That’s something we live by and try and encourage open conversation, calm and clarity. That’s the only way we’re going to achieve things within a capitalist system where everything is so mangled in hypocrisy and it’s all this big, nuanced, congealed mess. You have to be able to speak to people you maybe don’t agree with on things and come to compromises.

Download Festival
Download Festival (Picture: Todd Owyoung)

The likes of Pest Control, Ithaca and Scowl pulled out of their sets at Download this weekend, while Enter Shikari signed an open letter to the festival asking for Barclays to be dropped as a sponsor.

They wrote on Instagram: “We have been in talks with Download themselves, expressing our serious objection at Barclays involvement. We have considered all options, and along with other artists have been working tirelessly on this.

“We don’t believe in rushed reactions and always want the best outcome for all involved. Thanks to this collective pressure we now believe we have achieved that – Barclays have pulled out of Download Festival.”

In their statement, Enter Shikari also highlighted the extended team responsible for producing their live show, and how dropping out of prominent shows and festival slots has a wider impact on more people than might be assumed.

He told Rolling Stone UK: “There’s a whole ecosystem around us, which is mammoth. We’ve got so many suppliers, small businesses, everything from our production to our crew to trucking – there’s a lot that goes into the show.”

Because of this larger effort, Reynolds said that when considering boycotting a festival, his band are “not just thinking about yourself, which makes it incredibly complex.”

He went on: “You have to have a lot a lot of really difficult conversations, and I’m so glad we didn’t have to do anything really drastic. We wouldn’t want to not only let down the ecosystem around us, but also the fans and the people already at the festival waiting for us to play. There’s a lot of plates to spin and a lot of people to try and placate. It’s not an easy thing to get around.”

The first night of Download Festival 2024 was headlined by Queens of the Stone Age, with other headline sets this weekend coming from Fall Out Boy and Avenged Sevenfold.

Keep up with all the latest news and reviews from Download Festival 2024 on Rolling Stone UK here.