The members of Cypress Hill strongly responded Friday (March 26) to the cancellation of
their show at a college in St. George, Utah, due to concerns over violence, by saying
they are an acclaimed and peaceful group of entertainers.
In addition, they argue, they have worked against violence by contributing to anti-gun
"After nearly a decade of extensive touring in the United States and abroad, Cypress Hill
have established an unassailable reputation for conducting entertaining, critically
acclaimed and most importantly entirely peaceable shows," read a posting on their
official website. "As a result they have become one of the prime live hip-hop attractions in
the world with numerous successful tours to their credit."
Dixie College's cancellation of a concert featuring rappers Cypress Hill and
garage-rockers the Murder City Devils led the show's promoter to file a lawsuit charging
breach of contract and restriction of free speech.
The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by an attorney for the Provo, Utah-based concert
promoter Soularium Music claims that when the college canceled Soularium Music's
First Annual Spring Break Bash, it engaged in "content-based restriction on Soularium's
right to free speech and free association."
"There's quite a large conservative constituency in Utah [and] I think there's some stigma
attached to rap," Mark Comer, president of Soularium Music, said. "I think they heard that
Cypress Hill's following is a rough crowd, and they started to get a little paranoid."
The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order that would prevent Dixie College from
canceling the concert. A hearing on that order is scheduled to take place Tuesday,
according to Soularium's attorney, George Adondakis.
"The public record clearly demonstrates that any suggestion that the group's fans
provide a threat to the public safety is patentedly false," read the posting by Cypress Hill,
a rap crew which has, among other things, built a reputation for staunch advocacy of
marijuana use. The posting goes on to give an example of the group members' attitude
toward violence by highlighting their donation to the "Goods For Guns" program in New
York, a program that swaps domestic goods and children's toys for illegal firearms.
Because Dixie College is a state institution, the lawsuit also names the Utah State Board
of Regents, which, according to the suit, "is vested with the control, management and
supervision of state institutions of higher education in Utah." A Board of Regents
representative did not return a call for comment.
Comer said he was flabbergasted when college official Steve Bringhurst informed him
Monday that the concert, which had been scheduled for April 2 at the school-owned
Burns Arena, had been canceled. An estimated 2,000 tickets already had been printed
for the show, Comer said, and his company had already paid Cypress Hill $14,500, half
Adondakis provided a copy of a contract Bringhurst signed March 2, in which the college
agreed to host the concert. The attorney said he began negotiating Wednesday with
representatives of Dixie College to try to find an immediate resolution to the dispute.
Bringhurst, the executive director of Avenna Center, the sports complex of which Burns
Arena is a part, refused to comment on the case, but Comer said the official told him that
the college was canceling the concert in part because of concerns over security.
According to Comer, Bringhurst said that the college was concerned that the show might
attract "gangs" to the campus.
Dan Larsen, Utah assistant attorney general, said the college is concerned that the
concert would bring in more kids than the police force could handle. Thousands of high
school students on spring break are expected to flock to St. George -- considered the
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., of Utah -- on the weekend of April 2.
"I suspect there's more to it than that, though," Adondakis said. He added that he wasn't
certain that the negotiations would secure a resolution, but that he was confident of a
victory if the case should make it to trial.
Beginning with their self-titled 1992 debut album, Cypress Hill -- Sen Dog, B-Real and
DJ Muggs -- have openly endorsed marijuana smoking and taken on other controversial,
sometimes violent subjects. Their 1998 song
"Looking Through the Eye of A Pig" (RealAudio excerpt), for instance, is
rapped from the point of view of a corrupt cop.
Nevertheless, Larsen insisted, "We're not trying to ban the band. We didn't know
anything about the band. This isn't a Marilyn Manson case."
A spokesperson for Sony Music, Cypress Hill's record label, declined to comment on the
Although the Murder City Devils' wild concerts have been known to include such antics
as lighting the stage on fire, Comer said that he didn't believe their presence on the bill
played a part in the college's decision to cancel the show.
A publicist for Sub Pop Records, the Murder City Devils' record company, did not return
calls for comment.
(Senior Writer Gil Kaufman contributed to this report.)