The current state of the “scene” has come under a lot of scrutiny this year. Band members hooking up with underage girls has unfortunately plagued the music scene for as long as it’s been around. However; in the past few years many have taken a stand against these creeps and exposed them for the predators they are. The most infamous example would be the arrest and imprisonment of disgraced LostProphets singer Ian Watkins for baby rape. Heinous as Watkins crimes are (if you have the stomach for it, look up the court transcripts), they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Popular acoustic act Jake Mcelfresh, better known asFront Porch Step, was called out by several women and underage girls for sexual harassment. McElfresh recieved and sent out nude pictures to/from these women. A majority of these women spoke on how they were manipulated by him into staying in some sort of relationship with him. His ex-girlfriend wrote a lengthy blog post on her Tumblr ( which you can read here) speaking about their relationship, as well as her finding out about the tons of other women. Due to all this hoopla, FPS was dropped from Warped Tour; except for the Nashville date where Kevin Lyman (the founder and head honcho behind the tour) allowed him to perform “to help with his ongoing therapy.” So with a couple of bodyguards in tow, FPS proved that he was above “the rules” by performing for the small crowd of loyal followers he still has left. Instead of issuing an apology to these women he’s hurt, Mcelfresh chose to play the victim and shared his sob story and even insinuated that these women (some of which are underage) were asking for it. You can read his message to his fans here).
There’s more obvious cases of underage children being abused, such as the case of Blood On The Dancefloor singer Dahvie Vanity. Girls as young as 12 years old have shared their stories online, and there’s several tumblrs and websites dedicated to bringing awareness to the singer’s atrocious crimes( here’s a blog dedicated to stories warning others). For those who may doubt these girls, or claim they’re looking for attention; I will share my own story and experience. I was 16 and went to the city to meet up with a friend at a Jeffree Star concert where BOTDF was opening. As embarrassed as I am to admit this now, when I was a young teen I listened to them. They made music catered to the young teen audience: tons of pop culture references, mentions of alcohol and drugs, and loaded with sexual innuendos. It was music I could listen to while sipping 4loko at the local high school football field. I called my friend to see where he was in BOTDF’s van, plugging ecstasy for the first time. In case you aren’t aware of what “plugging” is, its inserting substances anally. I thought it was strange, but also very cool, because I had never been exposed or heard anything like that. I also thought it was cool that my friend was hanging with band members.
After BOTDF’s set, I went down to their merch table to buy a shirt and see if I could meet up with my friend. I saw Dahvie and he asked if I wanted to take a picture with him. Sure, I thought, why not? While my friend was taking a picture he not only slipped his hand up my shirt, but he also tried to kiss me, in front of his then-girlfriend. I was so embarrassed and confused and thought I was going to get my ass kicked. Here’s the sketchy part: after he walked away to take pictures with more fans his girlfriend called me over to the merch table. She was very sweet and complimented my outfit. She then asked me how old I was and I was honest in telling her I was 16. Her facial expression dropped for a moment, before smiling and telling me “oh okay, never mind.” I still don’t know the context of that conversation, but after that I started hearing more and more stories about how much of a creep this guy was. Thankfully my BOTDF albums lay somewhere molding in my parent’s basement.
More controversy struck the famed tour as Jonny Craig, frontman for the band Slaves, was accused of being drunk and sexually harassing/mistreating their merch girl. While the exact details of what happened are still a bit fuzzy, it was made known that Slaves had a clause in their contract that prohibited the band (well, mostly Jonny) from drinking and acting inappropriately. Craig is no stranger to bad press, he’s battled a nasty drug addiction, being kicked out of essentially every band he’s formed/been in, and then there’s the infamous “Macbook Scandal“. As of recently he’s claimed to have gone to rehab and cleaned up his act, but these accusations made against him say different. A town hall meeting was held where band and crew members were able to discuss how they felt about the situation as well as take a vote on whether or not Slaves should be allowed to continue the tour under certain stipulations. Ultimately, Slaves was voted off the tour, something they refer to as “the best thing to ever happen”. As of recently, Slaves was scheduled to tour in support of Bless The Fall, but were kicked off and replaced with Craig’s former band, Emarosa.
What’s even more upsetting is that I think a lot of people have given up on these guys ever being held totally responsible for their actions. Yes, Craig may be known for his obnoxious and eccentric behavior but his voice (aka his meal ticket) is undoubtedly amazing and he will always have fans. Same goes for Front Porch Step, who plans of continuing his music. Not everyone is taking this sh!t lying down. Long Island locals Stray From The Path has recently released a song called “D.I.E.P.I.G”, an attack on sexual predators. In an interview with AP mag, they had this to say about the nature of the song:
“When you f*ck with that, you f*ck with Stray. There are quite a few people that took it all for granted, and used their fortunate positions to take advantage of young females. I think this all came to light with us when Ian Watkins of Lostprophets committed unbelievable acts on infants.
If you can be a musician for a living, that’s the lottery. I think that when you take advantage of the people that support the music, you should lose your privilege to play. People can apologize (or not even apologize if you’re Front Porch Step) and to me, that is a step in the right direction. However, you should lose your privilege to have this life that people would literally kill for. I appreciate all supporters of music, even if it’s a person who hates Stray, but loves Mastodon or Silverstein or whatever, and those bands are playing El Corazon in Seattle, a venue that Stray loves, you are important to us also. It is all connected.”
Stray goes on to say;
“If people want to accept you and bring you back, fine, it wouldn’t be the first time. But you will always be on the team with people who do not deserve being back in fortunate lifestyles, captained by Michael Vick and Jonny Craig.”
It is refreshing and comes as a relief to see someone in a popular band use their influence to bring attention to the elephant in the room. Unfortunately, there will always be people who use their influence and popularity to prey upon women (and men too!). But could 2015 be the year things change? Kevin Lyman has recently stated that major changes will be made to the festival to ensure that things will be a safer environment.
“There are things that need to be fixed,” he said. “[The community] needs to fix what due process is, what judicial systems are, and [we] have to stop putting false information on the internet… Slow down the social media blur. None of you are retaining. People can’t retain the name of a band and the song they play. Brains have turned into a spaghetti sieve, as I like to say, shit just flows through them all of the time. Nothing’s sticking, except for a little bit of crust off of the sides. We’re going to have to slow down technology. We have to slow it down, so it means something.”
How do you guys feel about this? Do you think that things need to change for Warped Tour, or do you think things are grossly exaggerated? Let us know!