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The Killers under fire after bringing Russian drummer onstage

The Killers posted a statement in response to controversy surrounding a Russian fan they brought onstage to play drums in the country of Georgia.
The Killers under fire after bringing Russian drummer onstage
Posted at 5:05 PM, Aug 17, 2023

The Killers were not on the (Mr.) Brightside of fans in the country of Georgia Tuesday after stepping into a geopolitical mess mid-show.

During a concert there Tuesday, the American rock band's lead singer, Brandon Flowers, looked to the crowd to invite a guest drummer onstage — a tradition for them, according to a statement. 

He seemed to notice one fan holding up a sign that read, "If destiny's kind, I'll be your drummer tonight."

Footage shared to Instagram by one concertgoer captures Flowers asking where the fan was from, then he says, "We don't know the etiquette of this land, but this guy's a Russian. Are you okay with a Russian coming up here?"

The crowd immediately appears against the idea, with many yelling "no" or waving their hands to signal their distaste.

But the Russian fan is still brought onstage, and later footage shows even more negative crowd reaction. Attendees booed the band, and a number of other pointed middle fingers toward the stage.

After a period of vocal disdain from the crowd, Flowers asks, "You finished yet or no?" He then describes the Russian as a "brother" to the crowd.

"You can't recognize when someone is your brother?" he said. "We all separate on the borders of our countries? ... So I'm not your brother? Am I not your brother, being from America?"

Georgian media said these remarks led some fans to leave the arena in protest. And one person who posted the footage, Keti Kvariantashvili, said, "Everyone hates this band now here," saying the country stands with Ukraine.

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Soon after the show, The Killers posted a statement, noting the tradition of inviting guest drummers onstage and that their choice that night was never intended to offend anyone.

"It seemed from the stage that the initial reaction from the crowd indicated that they were okay with tonight's audience participation member coming onstage with us," the statement read. "We recognize that a comment, 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."

Some came to the band's defense in comments under the statement on Facebook, saying "Can't always please everyone," or showing appreciation for the band's willingness to have fans participate. But others gave them more flack, with one calling it a "wrong move" and another saying they should "read something about the country" they're visiting.

Georgia has a longstanding tradition of disliking its neighbor Russia after its army invaded the former Soviet state in 2008. There are still some Russian-occupied territories in Georgia, and the country has recently been accused of being closely tied to Moscow, though its residents have protested these claims.

The Killers will continue their world tour with stops coming up in Belgium, Switzerland, the U.K. and Ireland before coming back to the States.

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