Radiohead's Controversial Concert in Tel Aviv & 5 Other Artists Performing in Israel

Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs on the Coachella Stage during day 1 of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 2) at the Empire Polo Club on April 21, 2017 in Indio, Calif.
Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella

Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs on the Coachella Stage during day 1 of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 2) at the Empire Polo Club on April 21, 2017 in Indio, Calif. 

On July 19, Radiohead will end a tour in support of well-received ninth studio album A Moon Shaped Pool with a performance in Tel Aviv, Israel. The show will mark the group’s ninth time playing the city, most recently in 2000 ahead of Kid A.

What should serve as a celebration of sorts has been weighed down by controversy regarding the band's decision to play the city despite the current cultural ban: the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that took effect in 2005.

In April 2017, the underlying controversy surrounding Radiohead’s impending performance was brought to the surface thanks to an open letter -- signed by the likes of Thurston Moore, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Roger Waters and more -- that asked Radiohead to reconsider the location of its final gig behind Pool.

While Radiohead are far from the only big-name acts set to perform in Israel this summer, they are the only act receiving so much heated and public flak (primarily led by Waters, who also signed a petition in November that asked for The Chemical Brothers to cancel its Tel Aviv tour date). There’s an argument to be made that because of Radiohead’s political past (the band played the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1998 and 1999, as an example) it makes a more substantial target than, say, Britney Spears, who is also slated to perform in Tel Aviv this summer.

It’s likely that the verbal ping-pong match between Waters and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke will continue -- Yorke only recently replied after several months of keeping quiet -- making it increasingly easy to overlook the other pop and rock stars who plan to play the city. Here are five artists who have recently or soon will perform in Tel Aviv.

Justin Bieber

In early May, Justin Bieber stopped in Israel as part of his worldwide tour behind Purpose, which has spanned more than a year and included nearly 30 countries. The pop star first performed in Israel in 2011, when he was only 17, and his visit was blemished by a canceled meeting with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bieber and Netanyahu were scheduled to meet at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem the night before Bieber's concert, though when Bieber was informed that children from communities affected by Gaza rocket fire would be in the meeting too, he decided against it. His second visit seemed to go smoothly though, as he drew a crowd of 50,000 and ran through hits old and new, from "Boyfriend to "Sorry."

Britney Spears

Britney Spears' upcoming performance in Tel Aviv on July 3 is so anticipated that the Israeli Labor Party moved its forthcoming election to accommodate her arrival (the election will now take place on July 4). Labor Party spokesman Liron Zach said in a statement that holding both her concert and an election on the same day would ultimately result in too much traffic and a lack of sufficient security. The performance will mark Spears' first-ever gig in Israel.

Guns N’ Roses

Last spring, Guns N' Roses reunited and celebrated by headlining Coachella before hitting the road for its Not in This Lifetime Tour. Now, the hard rockers will return to Israel on July 15. It will be the group's first time back in the country since 1993, which was part of its two-year world tour in support of Use Your Illusion I and II.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are scheduled to co-headline Tel Aviv's Playlist Festival on July 18 alongside pop-rocker LP. A handful of Israeli artists, from folksy pop singer Natan Gosehn to DJ Dalit Westchester, will perform as well. 

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

After two decades, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds will return to Israel for a two-date gig Nov. 19-20. This will be Cave's fourth time in the country, and following his second performance in 1995, Cave recorded a cover version of The Boys Next Door's "Shivers" with Israeli singer-songwriter Inbal Perlmuter, which was then released by Perlmuter's band The Witches on a covers album called Undercover.