In the last few hours word has comedown that Loudness has not been given clearance to enter the US to perform several shows in the US, including the M3 festival. If you are a follower of Talking Metal, you’ll know that Mark Strigl was extremely stoked to see them at M3, possibly more so than any other band on the bill. I wish I could report that this is a single occurrence, but it is actually a growing practice that has taken place since the beginning of the year, and part of the current administrations’s M.O. on immigration.
The aforementioned M3 added the following to their Instagram earlier today:
We are bummed that @loudness_official was denied entry to the US and will not be able to perform at #m3rockfestival and rest of the planned US dates.
A week ago music sites here in Spain started going ape shit over the fact that Medina Azahara, a Spanish hard rock/prog band, pioneers of the Andalusian rock sub-genre, where detained in New York, and were ultimately sent back to Spain, because their keyboard player erroneously answered a question on the Electronic System or Travel Authorization or ESTA. Apparently, he mistakenly answered yes to “Have you ever committed fraud or misrepresented yourself or others to obtain, or assist others to obtain a visa or entry into the Untied States.” He went to the Spanish consulate in New York to try and rectify the situation, but the entire band was sent back to Spain the following day. As a result, they had to cancel dates in New York, Maryland, Dallas, Anaheim and Chicago. The band has refunded fans their money, and will now fly to Ecuador to start the remainder of their Americas tour, without knowing if they can reschedule the canceled dates, or ever be allowed to enter the US.
But wait, there’s more, US immigration turned away Spanish rapper Yung Beef from this year’s South By South West. Three out of five members of the Chilean band Trementina had their visas cancelled without any explanation given as they tried entering the country. Italian band Soviet Soviet, Eyptian-Canadian band Massive Scar Era suffered the same fate, while Mexican ska bands Panteón Rococó and Antidoping had to cancel appearances at L.A.’s at the Skating Reggae Festival after they were not given working permits.
Being someone that has had to fill out the ESTA in the past, it is both scary, and difficult to believe that more could not be done to try and fix everyone of these situations. You can either fill the ESTA out manually, at a travel agency, or like I have, from the comfort of my own home. Now I understand that I have a slight advantage, being born in the US legally, and have a decent grasp of the language. But in the case of Medina Azahara, was there no one that was working with the band to make sure was taken care of? To my knowledge, unless there is an emergency, you are recommended to fill this paperwork out months in advance. The form is submitted digitally, and then you are told if you are being given a visa or not.
We hear about bands not being allowed access into Canada all the time, but that is usually because they have some sort of previous run in with the law that is used to as an excuse to turn them away at the border, not because bands are not filling out a document currently. Hopefully these are some sort of growing pains, and will not become an ongoing trend.
No word has come out at the time of writing this article as to why they are not being granted visas to this time around, but hopefully this isn’t a new trend for foreign bands started by the current administration. Loudness toured the US in 2015, and where part of the Monsters of Rock Cruise in 2016 which left from Florida. The band’s singer Minoru Niihara has since posted a blog online that mentions neither he, nor the band have ever been denied entry in the past. We hear about bands not being allowed access into Canada all the time, but that is usually because they have some sort of previous run in with the law that is used to as an excuse to turn them away at the border, not because bands are not filling out a document currently. Hopefully these are some sort of growing pains, and will not become an ongoing trend.