Pantera have been removed from the lineup of twin German summer festivals Rock am Ring and Rock im Park following what promoters say were “intensive conversations” with various stakeholders. Local councillors from the Green Party had voiced opposition to the band's performance on account of frontman Phil Anselmo's past racist controversies.
The festivals did not release an explicit reason for the move, with both releasing identical statements on Monday 23 January confirming their decision, but they alluded to criticism surrounding the decision to book the newly reformed band.
“Pantera will not be performing at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park 2023, as announced,” read the festivals’ statement. “In the last few weeks, we have had many intensive conversations with artists, our partners and you, the festival fans, we have continued to deal with the criticism together and decided to remove the band from the program."
The Pantera tour has already proved controversial. Many have argued that in the absence of guitarist Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul Abbott, who died in 2004 and 2018 respectively, it was hardly a full reunion.
In den letzten Wochen haben wir viele intensive Gespräche mit Künstler*innen, unseren Partner*innen und euch, den Festivalfans, geführt, uns mit der Kritik weiter gemeinsam auseinandergesetzt und uns dazu entschlossen, die Band aus dem Programm zu nehmen.January 23, 2023
Only Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown remain from the Texan metal giants’ most famous lineup, with Anthrax’s Charlie Benante sitting in for Vinnie Paul on drums, and Zakk Wylde assuming Dimebag’s mantel as electric guitar wrangler-in-chief.
But the controversy that has apparently sunk the band’s appearance at both festivals goes further back to 2016 and an incident in which Anselmo screamed “white power” onstage and performed a Nazi salute at a Dimebash charity show.
As reported in the Stern, council members in the local Green Party had raised objections about Anselmo performing at the festivals and called upon the festival’s promoters, Argo Konzerte GmbH, to remove them.
“We interpret his apology more as trivialisation. There was no insight, we find that very problematic,” says Réka Lörincz, a spokesperson for the Greens whose brief covers diversity, human rights, and countering right-wing extremism and racism.
Reacting to the decision to remove Pantera, Lörincz expressed her relief and said it was “unimaginable” that Pantera would be allowed to perform on the same site where the Nuremberg rallies took place. She said she hoped the decision would set a precedent in future.
“We are optimistic that Pantera is an isolated case, but will be seen as a precedent in the medium and long term,” said Lörincz. “We hope that the democratic parties will show a unified and clear stance here, too, to prevent anti-Semitic, racist and right-wing extremist appearances of all kinds on the site from the outset.”
Natalie Keller, the Greens’ spokesperson for cultural policy, said it was a victory for “constructive pressure”
Anselmo responded to the Dimebash controversy by issuing an apology video through his label Housecore Records’ YouTube channel. He would later speak to Rolling Stone about what he thought about people accusing him of being a racist.
“The word ‘racist’ has been thrown around so much over the past three years or so that people do not realise the heaviness of that particular accusation,” he said. “To think that I think I’m superior to someone else because I have pale skin when I know in my heart. … I think people that look through the lens of race and want to find racism will find it no matter where they’re fucking looking.”
Rock im Park and Rock am Ring will take place on the weekend of 2-4 June in Nürburgring and Nuremberg respectively. Pantera have one German date remaining in their European tour, where they will take the stage at Verti Music Halle in Berlin on 13 June.
Pantera's announced a US headlining on Monday with support coming from Lamb Of God. For full dates, head to Pantera.
In other Pantera news, The Haunted guitarist, YouTuber and metal guitar entrepreneur Ola Englund has proven that you don't need banks of high-output Randall solid-state guitar amps to nail Dimebag's chainsaw guitar tone. And best of all, if you own a Positive Grid Spark Mini practice amp, you can download this tone now.