It's finally happening. Big names like Burger Records, The Growlers, SWMRS, and more are getting outed for their sexual misconduct and their responses are hypocritical and disturbing.
What is obvious in the music industry, especially this particular sector is sexism. Male fronted bands have dominated the alternative music industry since well forever. Beach rock, indie-inspired, pop-punk subgroups have been moving through medium-sized clubs and theaters all over the world catching the attention of the sad boy/girl masses. The signs were all there for bands like The Growlers and groups like Burger Records who have recently been outed for creating a predatory culture. Lyrics of yearnings for young girls and backrooms filled with adult men and drugs make you wonder how behaviors of the like have gone on for so long.
Since the news started to break from the Instagram account @lured_by_burger_records countless women have come forward to share their heartbreaking experiences of sexual assault by men from bands such as The Growlers, SWMRS, The Buttertones, Cosmonauts, and others. Running through this account you will find shared stories from wxmen who were mistreated by men at Burger Records and men in the aforementioned bands.
“The people of Burger Records created a cesspool of trauma by allowing these men to prey on children.”
This has sparked fire from the other side of this music community - the women. Equally fans and members but not equally represented in the lineups, women have banded together to make sure that the stories of the victims are heard and validated. Some established female members of the community are using their platforms to bravely come forward with their own experiences.
Sloppy Jane band leader Haley Dahl, said,
“When I tried to align myself in your world of bands I experienced literally countless acts of disrespect, objectification, and sexual misconduct — and witnessed even more. It was heartbreaking, and a few young women I knew who experienced the same things no longer play music as a result of it.”
Issues around frontmen sexually assaulting underage girls is almost an eerie pastime for this part of the music industry. Influential industry men like Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman have already been on the record saying issues around sexual assault are “part of the culture” and have worked to normalize this disgusting habit. Of course, his tour was riddled with large ego front men with no shame in demanding what they wanted. We are once again witnessing a new chapter in the history of sexual assault in the music industry.
Since these stories have been coming out - bands are issuing their own responses to the situations. Many of them lack sensibility and are completely oblivious to the harm they have caused. Some are sparking responses from other victims because they hold such tone-deaf and hypocritical information.
The Growlers received multiple allegations from women who accuse the band of making them go topless in order to conduct an interview or get into a show.
SWMRS lead Joey and The Frights lead Mikey Carnevale both responded to the allegations made towards them but have since deleted their posts on social media.
However, there is one thing that is a constant factor in all of this. The patterns of an abusive frontman are clear. They attract young girls in the hopes that they are seen as important and popular, they coerce them into unwanted sexual activity (secretly but sometimes not) and then verbally and mentally destroy them with egotistical actions.
These wxmen are left to pick up the pieces of their trauma and take years to heal.
The silver lining of this has been the overwhelming support from the community. It's amazing to see the support come from all pockets of the underground community because they (myself included) have all bared witness to these situations from varying vantage points. If you yourself have ever dealt with sexual assault please know that you were never the problem. We believe your story and honor your journey towards recovery. We are working to make this music scene we know and love a safer place for the community. That starts with talking about these issues and holding the perpetrators accountable. If you are currently experiencing a situation like this please know that your happiness and health are dependent on the decisions you make. You are in control, not them.
To see change happen we must continue to support women working in the industry. More women need to be hired as promoters, managers, bookers, and media so that they can begin to restructure the outdated male infrastructure.
Support each other and be kind to each other. Let’s get back to live concerts in a safe and effective way. If you are looking for resources and need some guidance please look into some of these resources.
National Sexual Assault Hotline
They are available 24 hours a day and offer confidential help for free.
Offers live chat services and 24/7 services.
This New York Times article offers tips on how to support your friends or loved ones who have experienced sexual abuse.
Collegestats.org provides data on the frequency and rate of sexual assault and offers tips on how to report and prevent an assault from happening.