A class action lawsuit is being readied against The 1975 over the cancellation of Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysian artists and festival vendors.
The British band’s frontman Matty Healy criticised the Malaysian government and its anti-LGBTQ laws onstage and then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald during their headlining set at Good Vibes last Friday (July 21), which was afterwards cut short. The next day, the remainder of the three-day festival was ordered cancelled by the authorities and the band banned from performing in the country. As of Tuesday, 18 police reports have been filed over the incident.
The class action lawsuit, which is being readied by Malaysian law firm Thomas Philip, will name all four members of The 1975 and seek compensation over losses suffered as a result of the incident, which the firm’s founder and managing partner Matthew Thomas Philip labelled a “deliberate reckless act done knowing well [sic] of the consequences”.
“My view is that The 1975 must be held responsible and accountable for the losses suffered by the artists and vendors,” he said at a town hall meeting in the Hartamas area in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday (July 25) evening, which was attended by 70 people, mainly comprising artists, vendors and members of the media.
Philip first offered his firm’s services in a class action lawsuit to local artists seeking “to sue the band The 1975 for causing loss” in social media posts over the weekend. As of Tuesday evening five artists and five vendors are on board the class action, he told NME, which seeks general damages as well as exemplary and aggravated damages. It is not yet known how much in damages the lawsuit will seek.
The firm, which is acting pro bono, said that it aims to gather its first batch of plaintiffs for the lawsuit within 7-14 days and to file suit in Malaysia.
Good Vibes Festival organiser Future Sound Asia is not involved in the class action lawsuit by Thomas Philip, a representative told NME, but is “happy to assist them in any way needed”. Philip said that he has reached out to the festival organiser and invited them to “have a dialogue”.
Asked if Future Sound Asia is preparing to take legal action of its own against The 1975 and/or Healy, the representative said the company “is currently exploring legal options”.
NME has approached The 1975 for comment on the impending class action lawsuit. The band have yet to issue an official statement on the incident and its aftermath, though a source close to the band told NME and other publications on Saturday that “Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community”.
Healy has since referred to the incident on his Instagram stories, at one point sharing the festival’s statement on the cancellation and writing: “Ok well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks”.
Healy’s onstage speech, in which he said “I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with”, was criticised by LGBTQ+ Malaysians as “performative activism” and disruptive of work by local activists.
Healy’s actions were also criticised for the chilling effect some claimed it would have on the Malaysian live music industry, where it could become more difficult for international artists to perform in the country. “We fear it will erode the confidence of music promoters and various stakeholders in the live entertainment industry across the nation,” said Good Vibes organiser Future Sound Asia, “and threaten the stability of our burgeoning live arts scene.”
Malaysia’s communications and digital minister Fahmi Fadzil has since called on Puspal, the government agency responsible for approving filming and performance applications by foreign artists, to “re-examine all the existing processes regarding Puspal, including the artist screening issue”.
International artists booked for Good Vibes were paid in full prior to the event as per the terms of their contracts, which is “a standard practice in the industry”, said Future Sound Asia. However, “payment terms differ for local artists who are usually paid within a certain time frame after the event in order to manage cash flow due to the enormous costs of booking big-name international artists,” the representative added.
“Unfortunately, the unforeseen cancellation of the festival does throw a spanner in the works. It’s a very regrettable situation and we fully acknowledge the impact on our local talent – all of whom have been immensely supportive in these challenging times.”
The cancellation of Good Vibes also reportedly affected 28 food vendors who spent thousands in Malaysian ringgit to purchase stock for the festival – at least RM15,000 (£2,500), according to one vendor – on top of paying upfront to rent a stall on site, among other costs. Calls to support affected vendors have been circulating in local media.
MyCreativeVentures, an investment arm of Malaysia’s government to support the country’s creative industry, has begun to look into assisting local artists and food vendors, said communications minister Fahmi Fadzil.
In a prior statement, Future Sound Asia had called the cancellation of Good Vibes, which marked its 10th year in 2023, a “catastrophic financial blow”. The company’s founder Ben Law said the festival was “a brand built from the ground up on Malaysian soil, cultivated by unyielding dedication, resilience, and financial risk.
“Now, this decade-long labour of love faces an unprecedented threat due to the actions of a single individual. This is a very challenging time for us.”