Big Thief cancel shows in Tel Aviv following criticism

"We are sorry to those we hurt with the recklessness and naïveté of our original statement on playing Israel"

Big Thief have cancelled two shows in Tel Aviv, less than a week after they were first announced, following criticism over their decision to play in Israel.

The band, who released new double album ‘Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You’ back in February, were set to play a pair of shows in bassist Max Oleartchick’s hometown on July 6 and 7.

But today (June 9), they’ve confirmed that both shows will be cancelled.


“We would like to start by clarifying a few things from our first post. When we spoke of loving ‘beyond disagreement’ and not knowing ‘where the moral high ground lies,’ that was in specific referred to playing shows in Israel during a time where BDS (The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel) is calling for a cultural boycott,” starts the post. “This was not in reference to the Israeli occupation and the displacement of Palestinians.”

“To be clear, we oppose the illegal occupation and the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. We believe in total freedom and self-determination for all Palestinians”.

“Although we have much to learn, these basic realities were never in question for us,” continued the statement. “We said we are ‘well aware of the cultural aspects of the BDS boycott’ and we have since realised that that is not the case.”

“Our intent in wanting to play the shows in Tel Aviv, where Max was born, raised and currently lives, stemmed from a simple belief that music can heal. We now recognise that the shows we had booked do not honour that sentiment. We are sorry to those we hurt with the recklessness and naïveté of our original statement on playing Israel and we hope those who were planning to attend the shows understand our choice to cancel them,” explained the band.


“We recognise that withholding our cultural labour alone cannot be the only action we take. We have more learning to do so we can take more informed action,” Big Thief continued before saying they are “committed to growing from this, and moving forward with the transparency, accountability and import that such a situation requires.”

The Israeli shows were set to form part of the string of UK and European festivals, including Glastonbury on the Park StagePrimavera SoundBest Kept Secret and Tempelhof Sounds, the band had previously confirmed. You can find their full live schedule here.

Following the announcement, the venue has taken to Facebook and said: “Your cancellation you just made me sad for you bunch of miserable spineless musicians who are afraid of their own shadow.”