The punk band also slam the festival’s “unacceptable” links to anti-LGBTQ organisations.
Rhode Island punk rockers Downtown Boys have called for fellow artists to help them “shift the power dynamic” away from festival behemoth Coachella.
In an open letter in Spark, the band – who performed at Coachella this month – criticise the festival’s treatment of menial workers, alleging that trash collectors in the artist area are paid only $10 per hour, cut from a previous $14 per hour wage. This, they say, is “unacceptable” given that Coachella grossed over $85million the previous year.
Downtown Boys also take aim at Philip Anschutz, Coachella’s “77-year-old billionaire” owner. Anschutz operates the festival through his Anschutz Entertainment Group; according to the band, he also “oversees the Anschutz Family Foundation, which donated nearly $200,000 to anti-LGBT groups in the past five years,” echoing claims made in a report by Teen Vogue earlier this year. In response, the band will donate part of their Coachella fee “to organizations that fight for LGBTQ rights and freedoms”.
Downtown Boys acknowledge in the letter that “to participate in this festival at all means playing a capitalist and mainstream music venture” but insist “we can make demands within that framework”. The letter goes on to suggest that fellow bands work to “redistribute cultural and economic resources so that Coachella no longer holds so much power”.
The band’s statement comes at a time when artists are increasingly speaking out against the ways in which industry institutions are propping up injustice, such as the furore over the deportation clause in SXSW’s artist contract in March.