Kanye West is a pretty consistently polarizing figure in music. It seems that these days, you either love him, or hate him. At least 60,000 music fans in the UK definitely hate him, because they’ve launched a petition to have him cancelled as a headliner at the Glastonbury Festival in England.
The Glastonbury Festival has a long and storied history in the UK, having existed on and off since the early 1970s. It has been known under several different names over the years, and to many rock, folk and blues fans, it embodies a certain amount of the hippie counterculture spirit. That’s why it comes as no surprise to learn that since Kanye West was announced as a headliner, over 60,000 ticket holders have signed a petition to have his headlining performance cancelled and replaced with another artist.
The petition was started by Neil Lonsdale of Norfolk, United Kingdom with the intention of having Kanye West removed from the bill and replaced by “a more deserving rock act”. Given Glastonbury’s history as a rock and folk festival, this does make some sense, but in recent years, the artists that perform there have become much more musically diverse. In an interview with NME, Lonsdale said that “I fought the temptation to scream and instead opted to hurl my iPhone across the room,” Lonsdale said. “Two years ago we had The Rolling Stones playing the Saturday night, and this year we get Kanye West? It’s an outrage!” (Read the full article from NME here). In the wake of Glastonbury’s announcement that West would be headlining on saturday, angry fans took to social media, posting their displeasure, and in some cases, promising to return their tickets and stay home if festival organizers refuse to honor the petition. Glastonbury doesn’t announce their full lineup until later in the Spring, so right now, the only acts that are confirmed are popular (and very talented) rock band, Foo Fighters, legendary R&B singer, Lionel Richie and the controversial Kanye West. Given the scope of outrage about Kanye West, the festival could be in some trouble if the rest of the lineup isn’t incredible.
This all brings up an interesting question about an events accountability toward the ticket holders. Glastonbury festival doesn’t take place until the last week in June, and the petition has already gathered 60,000 signatures, which is nearly half of the total size of the audience. It stands to reason that the number of signatures will only grow in the months leading up to the festival, and that makes me wonder how the festival organizers will react? In the event that the petition gains 100,000 signatures or more, it will be a clear indicator that the fans don’t want Kanye West there. If that happens, and the festival still has him perform, they could end up doing serious damage to their credibility for future events. Is going to be worth it to pay Kanye astronomical amounts of money to perform if half the crowd uses his set as a chance to grab a shower, a bite to eat and a nap? And how will the notoriously petulant rapper react if he sees tens of thousands of people fleeing the stage when his show starts? If his past behavior is any indicator, it won’t be pretty and it won’t help his image in the eyes of his detractors.
No matter what happens, it will be very interesting to see how this situation plays out. If Glastonbury end up having to cancel Kanye West’s performance due to public outrage, that will be a telling sign of how fed up people are getting with his obnoxious behavior. Kanye West thinks that he is invincible in the industry, this may end up being a serious wake up call.