Queer band Sprints among Irish acts to pull out of SXSW festival in solidarity with Palestine

The boycott comes in light of the festival's sponsorship deals with the US Army and other military groups.

An image of Sprints, one of the Irish acts to pull out of SXSW festival. The four-piece group are pictures sitting on a bench.
Image: @SPRINTSmusic via X

All Irish acts scheduled to perform at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Texas have officially pulled out of the festival. The artists have withdrawn in solidarity with Palestine after it emerged that the event is sponsored by the US Army and other military groups.

The boycott was ignited by Kneecap who confirmed they would not appear at the festival in a statement published on Sunday, March 10.

“We have made the decision to cancel our three shows at SXSW and not travel to Austin as planned on Tuesday,” the hip-hop trio wrote.

“It is done in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the US military who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population.

“We cannot in good conscience attend an arts festival that has ‘The U.S Army’ as a ‘Super Sponsor’ and is platforming RTX (formerly Raytheon), Collins Aerospace, and BAE Systems, the very companies selling the weapons that have murdered 31,000 Palestinians, over 21,000 of them women and children,” Kneecap continued.


The move sparked similar action from the other Irish artists, including Sprints, a queer band from Dublin. The group similarly shared a statement on social media, reading: “In solidarity with the Palestinian people and as a stand against the US Army sponsorship and Defence contractor involvement in this year’s festival, we will no longer be performing at SXSW or taking part in any official SXSW showcases or shows.

“Free Palestine,” it concluded.



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A post shared by SPRINTS (@sprintsmusic)

Soda Blonde, Gavin James, Robert Grace, Mick Flannery, Chalk, Gurriers, Cardinals and NewDad followed suit, meaning that all acts that received funding from the Irish government to play SXSW have now pulled out. They were scheduled to take part in the official Music From Ireland showcase, which has since been cancelled, as has the Full Irish Breakfast daytime showcase. In place of the gigs, the artists will make a joint statement at the Velveeta Room at 8pm on Thursday, March 14, and again at the Flamingo Canteena at 1pm on Friday, March 15.

Similarly, Northern Irish-funded musicians Enola Gay and Conchúr White have also withdrawn, contributing to the over 80 artists and panellists who are boycotting the festival, as per the Texas Tribune.

However, Irish Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin still plans to attend SXSW. While she said she respects the boycott, she will go to “promote Ireland’s creative industries”.


In response to the politician’s decision, Kneecap’s Mo Chara told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, “We’re not here to speak on behalf of other people or say who should and shouldn’t go. We were only making the decision based on us.

“I know the Minister was saying she was going to support Irish acts, I think she’ll be standing at the Irish stage on her own seeing as there are no acts playing anymore, but if she’s using her platform to speak out against it then all the power to her.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has spoken out in light of artists pulling out, saying: “Bye. Don’t come back…We are proud of the US military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

However, SXSW said it did not agree with the Governor’s comments, adding that it welcomed “diverse viewpoints”.


“We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech,” the festival wrote.

“Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict. It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues.

“The defense industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives,” the statement continued.

“The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. In regard to Collins Aerospace, they participated this year as a sponsor of two SXSW Pitch categories, giving entrepreneurs visibility and funding for potentially game-changing work.

“We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice,” it concluded.

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