UPDATE (2/28): This morning, Taake posted a statement to their Facebook page announcing the cancellation of their entire US tour, citing "the illegal activities of Antifa and its supporters who applied pressure on venues and promoters to cancel shows." In the statement, the band reiterates that they aren't Nazis, expresses concern for American free speech, likening the backlash to McCarthyism, and singles out Talib Kweli and the press. You can read the whole thing here.
ORIGINAL POST (2/26):
Accusations of neo-Nazism and anti-Muslim lyrics resurfaced against Norwegian black metal band Taake after they announced a North American tour earlier this month. It's resulted in the cancelation of multiple American shows, including one at Portland's Hawthorne Theatre on April 9. Taake was originally scheduled to tour the US in early 2017, prior to the release of their album Kong Vinter, but their plans were derailed by visa issues.
The controversy goes back to March 2007, when Taake's lead singer—who goes by Hoest—performed at a concert in Germany with a swastika painted on his bare chest. The following year, Hoest told Terrorizer, "Don't get me wrong, we are definitely NOT Nazis. We only used that symbol as another symbol for evil. The usual symbols, the pentagram and inverted cross, don't invoke reactions anymore."
But the present-day backlash began when New York City Antifa called for the cancelation of Taake's show at Le Poisson Rouge. Hoest responded to this first cancelation via the group's Facebook: "Once and for all, Taake is not a racist band. Never has been, never will be."
Soon after, Seattle-based opening act King Dude dropped off the tour "for reasons out of my control, and frankly out of my realm of understanding... The banner under which people enter a King Dude concert must be welcoming to all people of all walks of life, race, religion, gender etc. This should go without saying as this has always been the way I have conducted my concerts and I’m not sure why it should change for this tour."
Talib Kweli also announced that he'd be canceling his tour stop at Kansas City's Riot Room due to the venue's booking of Taake: "My position is that the venue should not want to host that band whether the band cancelled or not, and should issue an apology for even booking the band. The response I received was that the venue did not want to choose sides between a band that sympathizes with racism and bigotry and me. I think it's time to choose a side. I find it appalling that The Riot Room refuses to apologize for booking this band. I wouldn't feel safe bringing my team, family, and fans into a venue that is sympathetic to white nationalism, so I've cancelled the show."
Over the past two weeks, Taake's shows in Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Portland have also been canceled. The Portland show's promoter, Mike Thrasher Presents—who, full disclosure, I used to work for—did not comment on the cancelation.
On Saturday, Taake told fans that they are preparing to post a statement about the US tour to Facebook, but have not yet revealed the fate of their remaining un-canceled American shows.