Slowly but surely, some of the musical acts who boycotted North Carolina because of House Bill 2 are coming back to perform.
The latest is Maroon 5, the Los Angeles pop-rock band who canceled two North Carolina dates last year over HB2 because, “we feel everyone should be treated equally.” Now, the group’s recently announced “Red Pill Blues” 2018 tour schedule includes an Oct. 4 date at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.
Maroon 5 follows 98 Degrees, the 1990s-boy band that would have played two North Carolina concerts in 2016 before canceling over HB2. Now, the “98 Degrees at Christmas” show plays Durham Performing Arts Center on Dec. 5.
Representatives for Maroon 5 and 98 Degrees both declined to comment about their decisions to perform in North Carolina now.
Last year, the groups were part of a wave of protest cancellations over HB2, the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act,” often referred to as the Bathroom Bill. While HB2 got most of its attention for the bathroom clause about transgender people’s use of public facilities, the law also invalidated local anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
“The phone is ringing more than it was a year ago,” said PNC Arena president Don Waddell. “But in the winter, our biggest thing is finding available dates between hockey and N.C. State basketball games. So we have to be proactive, reach out to acts that will be touring. It’s two-way communication, and we’re working on it.”
Major acts cancel
About two weeks after HB2 was signed into law, Bruce Springsteen cited the law in canceling his April 10 Greensboro Coliseum show. That seemed to open the floodgates.
The NBA, NCAA and ACC also called off sporting events in North Carolina. With businesses including Paypal and Deutsche Bank dropping planned expansions, the state’s estimated HB2-related losses reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars.