Photo Credit: Juliana Ronderos

On Thursday, Feb. 15, Matisyahu took to his social channels to inform his following that his two most recent planned shows had been abruptly canceled by the venues. Following the cancellation of a sold-out engagement at Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf on Feb. 14, Tucson, Ariz.’s Rialto Theatre canceled just hours before the show, inspiring the alternative reggae artist to speak up against the actions taken by the facilities and their employees.

“My band and I should have played a sold out show at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe last night and we were excited for tonight’s show at the Rialto Theater in Tucson,” the artist shared, in a series of text-based slides. “Instead, the staff at these venues refused to come to work, forcing cancellations. Without our permission or approval, the venue in Santa Fe misinformed our fans cancelling the show due to ‘security concerns,’ when the only concern was a group of staff unwilling to work my show.” He continues, “They do this because they are either anti-Semitic or have confused their empathy for the Palestinian people with hatred for someone like me who holds empathy for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

On its cancellation, Meow Wolf shared an explanatory post that reads, “On February 14th, we canceled a concert at the House of Eternal Return. Two hours before the show was set to begin, we found ourselves without adequate staff to safely manage the sold out crowd. Meow Wolf will always prioritize the safety of our employees and our guests. We are in the process of refunding all ticket holders.” The statement continues, “Meow Wolf believes in free expression, respectful discourse and the power of art to bring people together. We do not tolerate Antisemitism, Islamophobia, hate, racism, discrimination or violence of any kind.” In its own post, The Rialto similarly cited “safety concerns and staff shortage” inhibiting the venue’s ability to “prioritize the safety of [its] employees and [its] guests.”

Following an activist thread that has run through his performance in recent months, Matisyahu’s message highlights a greater trend: “It truly is a sad day when dialogue with those you disagree with is abandoned for hate mongering and silencing artistic expression. My band and I will keep moving forward always! We will perform songs that celebrate unity, peace and perseverance, and we will connect with our fans through the sacredness of shared music, which has always brought people together.” The artist later concludes, “We will not respond to hate with more hate. We will be together again. We will make music together again. We will sing together again One Day soon…”

After issuing his response, Matisyahu secured a replacement booking at Tucson, Ariz.’s The Rock. The artist welcomed fans who missed out on his canceled show to join him at this impromptu gathering for free.

Read Matisyahu’s full statement below.