Kentucky Exposition Center

The Kentucky Exposition Center (WDRB file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A singer who was videotaped raising a Nazi salute and yelling “white power” during a 2016 concert is scheduled to appear at Louisville’s Louder Than Life festival in September.

The festival is at the Kentucky Exposition Center, whose governing body, the Kentucky State Fair Board, banned vendors from selling Nazi and white supremacist items on its grounds last year.

Philip Anselmo, the former lead singer of the heavy metal act Pantera, and his band The Illegals are set to play in Louisville on Friday, Sept. 27, the first night of Louder Than Life’s three-day run.

Anselmo apologized in early 2016 after he was recorded making the gesture and racist remark at the “Dimebash” benefit in Hollywood, California. His comments were broadly condemned by other musicians in the heavy metal community, The Guardian reported.  

The fair board declined to comment or answer questions submitted by email on Wednesday. A spokesman referred a reporter to the event’s promoter, Danny Wimmer Presents, which did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The below video includes graphic content.

Earlier this year, two clubs in New Zealand cancelled planned performances by Anselmo’s band in the wake of a mass shooting at a Christchurch mosque, the New Zealand Herald reported. The man charged in the killings, Brenton Tarrant, has been described in news accounts as a suspected white supremacist.

Anselmo said in a video uploaded to YouTube shortly after the California incident in 2016 that his behavior was “ugly” and contended it didn’t reflect his true beliefs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The below video includes graphic content.

“It was ugly, it was uncalled for, and anyone who knows me and my true nature knows that I don’t believe in any of that,” he said in the video, going on to say, “I am 1,000 percent apologetic to anyone that took offense at what I said.”

In an article later that year, Rolling Stone reported that Anselmo had faced past accusations of racism, which he had previously denied in an MTV interview. He told the magazine that fans at the “Dimebash” event had been calling him a racist and “trying to get a rise out of me.”

“You wanna see ugly? I’ll show you what ugly looks like,” Anselmo told Rolling Stone, in his account of his actions. “And I did. And I paid for it and I continually pay for it. But it’s the farthest thing from the f***ing truth.”

The fair board, which operates the Expo Center and the Kentucky International Convention Center under the Kentucky Venues brand, unanimously approved a policy last November that prohibits the sale of items that "clearly represent racist ideology,” such as Ku Klux Klan items and memorabilia with the Nazi swastika made after World War II ended.

The move came after Courier Journal columnist Joe Gerth posted photos online of a Klan robe and Nazi items for sale at a gun show at the Expo Center.

At the time, fair board chairman Mark Lynn said the policy change was meant to bring people together.

“It’s time for us to say, ‘Enough is enough,’” Lynn said. “Let’s take care of each other. Let’s be kind to each other and let’s move forward. We want people to feel welcomed. We want them to feel at home in Louisville. We want them to feel at home at Kentucky Venues – and we’ve got to take a stand to do that.”

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Digital Reporter

Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation, development and local and state government.