A reggae band from Switzerland was canceled in the middle of a concert after attendees complained about “cultural appropriation” by white members of the group who have dreadlocked hair, according to reports.
Lauwarm, an artist from the capital city of Bern, describes his style as “dialect reggae peppered with pop, indie and world music.”
Lauwarm and his backing band were reportedly asked to perform on short notice at Brasserie Lorraine in Bern on July 18.
During their set, the group was interrupted by organizers after several audience members reportedly voiced their “unease with the situation” over some band members’ hairstyles.
“After a conversation with the band, we decided together to cancel the concert,” management explained on social media.
“We are aware that the responsibility lies with us. After all, we invited the band. Therefore, we would like to apologize to all the people for whom the concert has caused bad feelings. We have failed to deal with it in advance and to protect you.”
Bern City Councilman Tom Berger weighed in on the controversy, saying, “Let’s be honest. If you feel ‘uncomfortable’ because white people make reggae music, could it be that YOU are the problem…?”
A member of Lauwarm responded to accusations leveled against the group by stating, “We are not racists.”
Brasserie Lorraine released a follow-up statement on July 26 expressing surprise that the incident has made “such waves.”
“If the same band had played two years ago, the reactions might have been different,” management wrote in a press release. “We were also too little aware of the scope of this issue and what it can do to people.”
“We don’t claim that we did the right thing by stopping the concert. However, simply continuing the concert also felt wrong. We could call it overkill.”
They also asserted they don’t think the band members or white people are “automatically racist.”
The press release and initial statement have garnered over 100 responses on Facebook at the time of this writing, virtually all of which are negative.
“Small question… why do you have a ‘white rasta’ on your facade?” one user asked.
Brasserie Lorraine has announced that a group discussion about cultural appropriation will be held at the cafe next month.
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