Artists Protesting North Carolina’s “Bathroom Law’

Joe Walsh, Dead & Company, Chvrches and Death Cab For Cutie are among the acts deciding to play North Carolina while protesting the state’s new HB2 legislation, commonly known as the “bathroom law.”

The aspect of HB2 that’s getting the most attention is the part in the law that calls for people using restrooms in government buildings to use the facility corresponding to one’s gender at birth. Opponents of the law claim it discriminates against transsexuals.

Photo: AP Photo / Manu Fernandez
Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

Bruce Springsteen fired the first shot across HB2’s bow in early April when he nixed a gig at the Greensboro Coliseum just days before the show date. 

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry – which is happening as I write – is one of them,” Springsteen said in a statement announcing the cancellation.  “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Other acts, including Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, Pearl Jam, Maroon 5, Boston, and Ringo Starr, also crossed North Carolina stops from their respective tour routings. 

But other artists are using their North Carolina dates to protest the law.  Scheduled to play Raleigh June 4, Cyndi Lauper has said she’ll donate the show’s proceedings to Equality North Carolina.  Comedian Louis C.K.  also said he’d donate profits from his Asheville shows to an advocacy group.

Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file
Arriving at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Others have recently taken up the controversy. Rolling into Charlotte June 16, the Death Cab For Cutie / Chvrches co-headlining tour has announced that proceeds from that gig as well as Death Cab’s June 11 show in Ashville will benefit LGBT rights defenders Freedom Center For Social Justice and Southerners On New Ground.

However, Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard said that the band’s upcoming shows in North Carolina cities will be the last in that state “as long as HB2 stands.”

Photo: Hard Rock International
Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Fla.

Joe Walsh, who is touring on a bill with Bad Company, has also commented on upcoming shows scheduled in North Carolina.  The Eagles guitarist/singer issued a statement saying he is donating his net profits from his June 30 stop in Charlotte with Bad Company and his solo gig planned for Aug. 9 in Raleigh to Equality NC and the ACLU.

Photo: Owen Sweeney / Invision / AP
The Fillmore, Detroit, Mich.

“This legislation is deeply disconcerting and offensive to me and it hits close to home because, in addition to my diverse friends and peers from all walks of life, I have a gay stepson of whom I am very proud and that this legislation would directly affect,” Walsh wrote in a statement posted on his website.  “Because I am against discrimination of any kind, I encourage a full repeal of this law.”

Dead & Company has also spoken out against HB2.  The band that includes John Mayer along with Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir plus Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti, issued a statement saying it will play its June 10 show in Charlotte as planned, and will donate $100,000 to organizations opposing HB2, specifically, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina.

“We’ve never been a band that’s spoken many words when we’re on stage,” Dead & Company said in a statement issued June 2.  “But we hope that our actions, and the actions of our fans, will ring louder than ever before.”