“Thrillsong will perform live exclusively to huge crowds in churches, sports stadiums, race tracks, casinos, private islands, but absolutely no festivals, pubs, clubs or regular concert halls because… . would it be different?”
The group includes Astronaut Alex, Annie Hamilton, Art vs. Science, CC:DISCO!, Confidence Man, Dune Rats, Hatchie, Illy, Jack River, The Jungle Giants, KLP, Lime Cordiale, Montaigne, Odette, Peking Duk, Set Mo, Stace Cadet, Sycco, Thandi Phoenix and What So Not .
Some of the artists were due to perform at the now canceled NSW leg of this weekend’s Grapevine Music Festival in the Hunter Valley. Festival organizers estimate $5.2 million will be lost for the greater Hunter Valley region, with 1,400 jobs and 16,000 ticket holders affected.
“We strongly support measures to protect our fans and our communities and to protect our healthcare workers, we simply ask that if rules are established, they apply to everyone equally,” Thrillsong commented.
“We have to be in the same boat.”
The protest comes after photos and videos posted to social media this week showed crowds at Hillsong Youth summer camp singing and dancing without masks in scenes some users have likened to a music festival.
In the same week, several festivals in New South Wales were canceled after a ban on singing and dancing at indoor and outdoor events was introduced to mitigate soaring case numbers. Under the public health order, the ban does not apply to religious services, but it does apply to major leisure facilities.
South Australia also banned dancing this week, forcing heavy metal and punk music festival Full Tilt to cancel its Adelaide event.
Following the string of cancellations due to the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak, entertainment industry executives have renewed their calls for a federal insurance plan for live events.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the Hillsong camp event was “clearly contrary to both the spirit and intent of the order”.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has since called for Hillsong to be fined for flouting the ‘spirit’ of COVID-19 public health orders and NSW Health has confirmed the Newcastle summer camp was canceled for this violation.
A Hillsong spokesperson on Friday defended the event and, in a statement, said the time spent singing was minor.
“Hillsong Church has always adhered to the public health orders imposed by each government and takes COVID safety procedures very seriously for all services and events,” the statement read.
“Ensuring the safety of those attending Hillsong events and supporting the wider community’s effort to keep Australia safe are two priorities for our church.”
This is not the first satirical manifestation that has arisen in recent days. A popular pub in downtown Sydney will run as a church for a unique ‘Sunday service’ to voice similar concerns.
The Lord Gladstone Hotel will transform into ‘The Gladsong’, with jugs of holy water (beer) and DJs playing in the courtyard all day.
The event’s Facebook page describes the Gladsong Hotel as “Sydney’s newest and most popular religious institution”.
See this post on Instagram A post shared by #tgl #thegoodlord (@chippolord)
“This event aims to highlight the inequality that is manifesting in music venues across the country while religious organizations can continue under a different set of rules – all Covid restrictions will be followed currently in place on our site,” the event page reads.