After Swearing Off Touring Due to Environmental Concerns, Coldplay Signs Onto the iHeartMedia ‘Alter Ego’ Festival

Chris Martin Coldplay
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Chris Martin Coldplay
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Coldplay frontman Chris Martin (Photo Credit: Sebwes89 / CC by 4.0)

Last month, Coldplay declared that it would cease all touring, at least until concerts could become ‘environmentally beneficial’.

But perhaps a few one-off shows won’t kill the planet?

Accordingly, Coldplay has now signed onto iHeartmedia’s ‘Alter Ego’ mega-show, happening at the Forum in Los Angeles on January 18th.  The mini-festival will also feature Billie Eilish, The Black Keys, blink-182, and The Lumineers, among others.

The entire star-studded affair is being sponsored by Capital One, which is probably writing a huge check to attract the likes of Coldplay (which of course will be used to plant trees).

In the band’s announcement that it was ceasing touring, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin pointed a raft of environmentally-unfriendly issues with live concerts.

That includes culprits like single-use plastic bottles, thousands of cars driven by attending fans, trucks to haul equipment from venue-to-venue, and airplanes needed to shuttle band members and crew between various cities.  Attendees at Coldplay’s last major tour were all handed plastic, lighted wristbands that generated a fabulous light show in the crowd — but also produced thousands of pounds of environmental waste.

“We’re taking time over the next year or two, to work out how our tour can not only be sustainable [but] how can it be actively beneficial,” Coldplay frontman Chris Martin stated in late November. “We would be disappointed if it’s not carbon neutral.”

It’s unclear if Alter Ego will have an eco-friendly focus.

So far, it seems like an afterthought, at best: just this morning, iHeartMedia emailed Digital Music News with news of Coldplay’s inclusion.  But the announcement didn’t mention anything about single-use plastics, carbon-offsetting, or any other steps designed to reduce the show’s environmental footprint.

Whether Martin will insist on those things is unclear, though he seemed concerned about it a few weeks ago.  “Our dream is to have a show with no single-use plastic, to have it largely solar-powered,” Martin relayed.  “We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point. How do we turn it around, so it’s no so much taking as giving?”

Most likely, Coldplay — not to mention other performing acts and their crews — will be flying airplanes to get to the gig.  And so will a few fans, with the rest likely driving.  Elsewhere, festivals like Glastonbury are banning single-use plastics, though plastic is still in abundance at most shows these days.

Ironically. Martin issued the above statement from Jordan, which almost certainly requires airfare (most likely in first class). Coldplay even followed their Jordan performance with a gig in London, though proceeds were donated to an environmental charity.

6 Responses

  1. Ro

    Hi Paul, I like that you have covered the topic of concerts’ environmental footprints in this article. Hopefully, things like single-use plastics will be eliminated in concerts going forward along with other measures. However, I think your article and its sarcastic tone (at times) is very harsh on Coldplay. Chris announced that they won’t do a massive global tour for this album; their last one had 122 shows with more than 5 million people attending. So far, they’ve had 2 small intimate gigs with less than a 1000 people each, and they already announced that they may do a couple more shows in LA as part of the album launch campaign. The London one supported an environmental charity as you mentioned, while this ‘Alter Ego’ one is them joining a mini-festival. Considering their past support of environmental charities and Chris’ big role in the Global Citizen Movement (which also tackles the environment), I think they’ve done a good job of doing the best they can while doing their jobs. This is what Chris had said during his pronouncement about touring and I think the same applies to pretty much everyone. Ofcourse they don’t have a perfect track record with the wristbands etc, and their jobs have a big footprint due to concerts and the like, but we should applaud rather than criticize those who try and take bold steps, leading their industry. Even if they do a few more standalone shows or take part in some big festivals, as long as they don’t do a big global tour like last time, I think they are being true to their word and their intentions.

    • Ben

      Thank you for making this point! I was going to do the same. Coldplay stated they would not tour for a couple years while they worked out ways to have as little negative effect on the environment as possible. That seems to be the extent of their press release, and they never stated they wouldn’t perform anywhere during that time. This article is perfectly indicative of the problem with click bait journalism in general.

  2. J Willis

    What a smug article by a petty writer. Coldplay isn’t touring. They are not making sanctimonious demands, which the author would attack. They are promoting their new album on a very small scale. This article is rubbish.