Action Bronson's set at Toronto festival North by Northeast (NXNE) has been moved following protests concerning the content of his lyrics and music videos.
Toronto local Erica Shiner started a Change.org petition on May 26 urging NXNE to reconsider Bronson's free set at Yonge-Dundas Square. "A musician who glorifies rape and violence against women should not be invited to perform at a public space in our city," she wrote. The petition has garnered more than 40,000 signatures.
Yesterday (May 29), the festival issued a statement declaring the show would no longer go on as planned, and would be moved to a private, ticketed venue. "A significant number of Torontonians have indicated their desire to have Action Bronson not perform at the Square. As annual guests in this space we feel we must accede to the strong wishes of the community and honour their input," the festival directors wrote.
Shiner's petition noted that Bronson's 2011 song "Consensual Rape" included lyrics about coercive group sex, calling them "hate speech." She cited the following lyrics: "Then dig your shorty out cuz I geeked her up on molly / Have her eating di-- , no need for seasoning / If seven dudes are in the room then she's pleasing them / Like a trooper. Hit her in the pooper. Throw her in the shower."
She also noted the contents of Bronson's 2011 music video for the song "Brunch": "The artist cooks a meal over a woman's dead body, rolls her up in a carpet, throws her in his trunk, and proceeds to violently stab her when he discovers she's still alive."
Despite the change in venue, NXNE directors defended their decision to book Bronson. "We remain fundamentally committed to presenting this artist on a Toronto stage," they wrote. "We are not moving the Action show because we believe in censoring him or any other artists. In fact, we find the limiting of artistic expression distasteful. When artistic expression is limited, freedom and the evolution of ideas is often the casualty. Hopefully, Action Bronson will accept our invitation to play at another, ticketed venue in the city so the public can decide for themselves if his work has merit. We booked Bronson, in part, because of his latest excellent disc, Mr. Wonderful."
Bronson addressed the accusations on Twitter, writing, "I THOUGHT THEY LOVED ME IN TORONTO!!! I CANT WAIT TO COME!!! ILL SEE AT NXNE."