Pharrell Williams’ hip-hop trio N.E.R.D. were forced to cancel concerts in Indonesia this weekend after they were detained by Malaysian authorities for failing to gain the correct performance permits.
The Everybody Nose hitmakers – comprising of Williams, rapper Shay Haley and producer Chad Hugo – performed at the Sunburst KL International festival in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (21Mar09), before heading to the city’s airport to fly to neighbouring Indonesia.
But they ran into trouble with immigration officials and were detained for several hours after Malaysian authorities discovered they had not obtained the permission needed to perform in the conservative Muslim country.
According to local reports, the band’s Malaysian promoter had requested the permits twice before they were due to play at the music festival, but their attempts had been rejected on both occasions, with officials citing the group members’ “obscene” dress sense for the denials.
However, N.E.R.D. pressed ahead and performed without the proper credentials – resulting in their detainment at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Immigration Director-General Datuk Mahmood Adam says, “Following investigations, we found that the group did not receive permission from the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to perform at the concert.
“After their statements were recorded, they were released with assurance from the concert organiser.”
After learning of N.E.R.D.’s immigration delay, the promoters of their Indonesian gig, Java Festival Production and Urbanite-Sinjitos, called off their scheduled show in Jakarta on Sunday and the band subsequently flew back to their native U.S.
Ticket holders have been offered refunds for the cancelled concert.