The American rock band were booed for urging the two nations to consider themselves “brothers and sisters”
The Killers drew boos from the crowd at their concert at the Black Sea Arena in Batumi, Georgia, where they performed Tuesday night. Following their long-standing tradition of inviting a fan onstage to help perform the song “For Reasons Unknown,” the night’s guest was revealed to be Russian. Singer Brandon Flowers, in an attempt at international diplomacy, called Russians and Georgians “brothers,” which was met with loud protests.
“We don’t know the etiquette of this land but this guy’s a Russian. You OK with a Russian coming up here?” Flowers asked the crowd, who responded by loudly booing. Despite gaining its independence from Soviet rule in 1991, Russia continues to occupy 20 percent of Georgian territory after its invasion in 2008.
The audience’s disapproval was further demonstrated through walk-outs. After the performance, the singer prodded concert-goers, “You can’t recognize if someone’s your brother? He’s not your brother? We all separate on the borders of our countries? … Am I not your brother, being from America?”
The band issued an apology later that same night, maintaining it was not their intention to offend anyone. “We have a longstanding tradition of inviting people to play drums and it seemed from the stage that the initial response from the crowd indicated that they were okay with tonight’s audience participation member,” they wrote on social media.
They added that their comment, which was “meant to suggest that all of the Killers’ audience and fans are ‘brothers and sisters,’ could be misconstrued. We did not mean to upset anyone and we apologize. We stand with you and hope to return soon.”
The Killers are currently on tour in Europe. They’re scheduled to perform at several upcoming festivals, including Reading and Leeds in late August. The band will also headline Ohana Festival in Dana Point, California, which runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.