Brit + Co Logo

Looking for sweet cookie recipes,

the latest fashion trends and inspo,

or a way to up your calligraphy game?

We'll help you find something amazing ✨

These Bands Trying to Perform at SXSW Got Turned Away at the US Border

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 14: A view of the audience at Musicalize during 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals at The Main on March 14, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Steve Rogers Photography/Getty Images for SXSW)

For the past five days, the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and conference has brought thousands of artists and fans from around the globe to Austin, Texas. This week, several international bands slated to perform have been denied entry to the country.

Billboard reported that at least seven bands have stated that they were unable to enter the US because of visa issues. Among the musicians forced to return home were Italian band Soviet Soviet, London-based jazz group United Vibrations, Canadian and Egyptian band Massive Scar Era, and Danish DJ and producer ELOQ.

All four groups posted statements to their Facebook pages about their experiences trying to get to the US to perform at the festival, revealing general confusion on the part of US border officials over which visa the performers needed.

According to Soviet Soviet’s Facebook post about their failed entry to the US on March 10, all four members of the group were separately “interrogated” at the airport, and were unable to convince customs officials that because they were performing for free, they should have been allowed into the country using a standard B-1 tourist visa. “They declared us illegal immigrants even if our intention was by no means to look for work in the United States nor never go back to Italy,” the post states. The band was kept in jail overnight before being sent back to Italy.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 2.11.14 PM

Massive Scar Era was also unable to enter the US despite having the appropriate documentation. A Facebook post penned by the band’s singer and guitarist Cherine Amr on Sunday reports that the band’s members were also unable to convince officials that they were traveling for unpaid promotional purposes. According to the band’s post, the group’s bassist has Canadian First Nations (Native American) status, and should have been allowed to access the US with her First Nations card provided by the Canadian government. Amr speculated that her Egyptian visa could have been the reason the group had issues.

Amr told us via Facebook messenger that her band isn’t bothered by the fact that there are rules for entering the US, “but we demand a consistency and [clarity].” Amr says that, while she was detained at the airport, she called a SXSW representative to speak with a US border official on her behalf; she reports that the official refused to take part in the call.


The UK-based United Vibrations didn’t provide as many details about their experience at the airport in their Facebook post Monday, but speculated that the Trump administration’s recent travel ban could have been the reason they were denied access. “We were looking forward to connecting with our brothers and sisters stateside to share our music,” the band wrote. “Why weren’t we let in? our Names? the Music? The colour of our skin?”

On the other hand, Ole Nørup, a spokesperson for ELOQ, tells us over email that he does not feel that there is a “link between the general [immigration] situation and the issue we experienced with ELOQ. We believe it was just bad luck.”

US immigration officials attempted to clear up the confusion over visas on Tuesday, but Amr tells us that their explanation is “very vague.” Sources with Customs and Border protection told Billboard on Monday that “if an individual is a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group, they must apply for and be granted a P-1 visa [a type of work visa given to athletes or performers].”

Bands traveling to perform in the US have often faced problems at customs, according to Pitchfork. Citing visa issues that kept a British group from performing at SXSW in 2011 and Adele’s cancelled 2009 SXSW performance, Pitchfork reports that Trump’s travel bans aren’t necessarily to blame for the visa problems, but likely contributed to the confusion over what types of visas are acceptable for SXSW performers.

What are your thoughts on SXSW performers not making it into the country? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photos via Steve Rogers / Getty, Shane Lange via Cheen Music/ Facebook, United Vibrations / Facebook).

Elizabeth King
Elizabeth King is a politics, history, and culture writer based in the Twin Cities. She is generally pretty cranky but still enjoys traveling, music from the early 2000's, and plotting the resistance. Feel free to say hi on Twitter at @ekingc or check out some of her work at

Ahhh, fall. There are so many things to love about this time of year (give us ALL the sweaters and pumpkin-flavored eats). But, high on the list comes autumn decor candles, throws, textiles — you name it. Of course, buying items and actually adding them to your room are two different things. So we're turning to Instagram for the best styling advice and inspo for the season. Scroll on to see everything you need to get those wheels turning!

@sbkliving: Sometimes, it only takes a chic doormat to transition your front steps for the season. Hello, fall!

@rachelpuccetti: Excuse us while we spend an entire lazy Sunday relaxing in this fall-infused space.

@farmhousetofrills: A monochrome mantel never looked so chic. (That fireplace pumpkin setup is seriously *genius*.)

@faith_hope_home: Greet guests with a fall-themed entrance to set the tone for a day of pumpkin carving or scary movie marathoning.

@simplysoutherncottage: Don't forget about those nooks and crannies! This entryway/mudroom situation is capturing our little harvest-loving hearts.

@6thirtydecor: Speaking of pumpkins, pick up a few extra gourds to pave the way into your cozy autumn abode.

@farmsteadonfirst: That guest bedroom you weren't sure what to do with it? Transform it into a rustic retreat with some fall signage and mustard-yellow and green accents.

@fiddleleafinteriors: We're going to take a second to *swoon* over this adorable kitchen setup. Those farmhouse accents and simple centerpiece setup? We're in love.

@ohmydearblog: Contrary to what you think, florals *aren't* just for spring. Bring them into your abode by selecting buds in moody tones to pay homage to the season.

@simply.mrs.z: Drawn to modern style? Play up the Halloween vibes by picking black, orange and brass accents to rock on places like your bookshelf. (Bonus points for carrying the theme over to your textiles.)

@drivewaytodreams_crystal: We're going to go ahead and give two thumbs up to all of these orange-hued accents. Backdropped with a neutral furnishings and they truly *pop*!

@cripcollectiveig: For those who don't want to go overboard with the "fall stuff" this one will speak to you. Compile a couple of cute throws and a minimalist pumpkin print on your mantle and you're set

@cavcottage: Who said fun pillows were limited to furnishings only? We're ALL about this entry display.

@houseon77th: This daybed setup is a *dream*. But actually, this would be the perfect space to doze off in come the colder days.

@kristenforgione: For a more festive Halloween look, overhaul your living space with a spooky handmade addition like this one. *Googles paper bat DIYs.*