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(Credit: Alexa Viscius)

Music

Big Thief defend decision to book shows in Israel

Big Thief have scheduled two shows in Tel Aviv, Israel, for next month and explained the contentious decision in a statement.

The band released their new double album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You back in February and are set to play two dates in bassist Max Oleartchick’s hometown on July 6th and 7th. Taking to Instagram to explain, they stated: “We are excited to announce two shows in Max’s hometown, Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 6th and 7th.”

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“Accompanying this announcement, we would again like to clarify our motivations and intentions for playing in Tel Aviv, Israel, with as much transparency as possible.”

They added candidly: “Over the last seven years, we’ve travelled constantly around 3 of our members’ home country, the United States, meeting each other’s families and childhood friends and sharing in the joys and sorrows of a complicated, beautiful and tumultuous home. We have grown so close. It is important for us to share our homes, families and friends with each other in order to gain a deeper understanding of one another and the people and places that have made us who we are. It is important for us to go where we have family to share space and play for them. It is foundational. It is in that spirit that we made our decision to play in Israel.”

“We are well aware of the cultural aspect of the BDS movement and the desperate reality of the Palestinian people. In terms of where we fit into the boycott, we don’t claim to know where the moral high ground lies and we want to remain open to other people’s perspectives and to love beyond disagreement. We understand the inherently political nature of playing there as well as the implications. Our intention is not to diminish the values of those who support the boycott or to turn a blind eye to those suffering. We are striving to be in the spirit of learning.”

The message concluded: “With this in heart, the show’s profits will be donated to NGOs that provide medical and humanitarian aid to Palestinian children, including joint efforts between Palestinians and Israelis working together for a better future.”

Amid the shows, Big Thief are also set to play the several UK and European festivals, including Glastonbury on the Park Stage, Primavera Sound, Best Kept Secret and Tempelhof Sounds. The full live schedule can be seen here.

In a recent video message to fans, frontwoman Adrianne Lenker pleaded for fans to stop talking through their support acts’ sets.

“It’s really come forward in the last few days that: when music is happening in a room, there’s a performer on stage playing and doing their craft, when you enter into that space, try to be mindful of what’s happening and pay attention and don’t talk,” she said.