When is it ok or “cool” to boycott a festival, band or venue?
People choose not to attend festivals in protest all the time. It could be because you
don’t like an artist’s stance on something or dislike some corporate sponsors or any
number of reasons. It seems that if one of the band’s had a controversy surrounding
punching their ex girlfriend and bandmate in the face, it would seem natural if said
abuse victim didn’t want her fans or people to go and support the booking of an act
who feature a member who she’d been in serious conflict with.
Last night on Twitter and elsewhere Sean Ono Lennon and the artist known as Globelamp
(aka Elizabeth Le Fay, formerly of Foxygen) got into a war of words over just such a
scenario. It resulted in some fairly shockingly lazy language from Lennon, who I think
meant well but some of his posts didn’t help.
To make a long story short, first read this for the complex and sad tale of Foxygen’s fallout
We good? That was fucked up, right?! I wasn’t there but every time I have communicated
with Globelamp she has been completely nice, from seeming genuinely distraught people
are biased against her art because she has been vocal about abuse and people consider
her a “Yoko Ono” type or just talking to her briefly about how we both like The Mists
Of Avalon and how it should be read in schools to show the bad-assery of witchy women.
She seems very genuine.
Read more below.
Globelamp isn’t exactly metal. She just made one of the best, ethereal indie/rock
albums of the year. Like, it is in my top five with Miserable, Prince Rama , Alice Bag and Mina Caputo. There is certainly stuff that could appeal to dark folk and Melissa Nadler
type fans on Globelamp’s record, like this gorgeous and ominous song “Don’t Go Walking In The Woods Alone At
Night”, about calling for help and no one comes.
Elizabeth complains on Twitter and in articles, but mostly she does her own thing. She sells clothes on storeenvy and writes chill as fuck songs to get lost in. People like to paint her as a liability.
Foxygen have been booked at Desert Daze, a rad fest that is featuring a tribute to the
late great Alan Vega of Suicide and some kick ass bands like Dead Meadow, Deerhunter
and The Sonics. People are going to go no matter what, it is safe to say. Globelamp
has been asking people to boycott it and had initially asked Sean Lennon for help
getting people to know her situation, but he was reluctant. She shared their private
correspondence which made him angry and in a few posts on Instagram said he used to
like her until he found out she was “crazy”. Elizabeth has done a very rad Beatles
cover in the past.
Making me feel like I’ve never been born…
To summarize, Lennon has friends who run Desert Daze and insists they are awesome, loving people and doesn’t think the Festival
should suffer the loss of revenue of a boycott. Be that as it may, Elizabeth is also a good person. I think it is the natural side effect
of addressing serious issues sometimes that events might take a loss and people should be allowed to decide for
themselves. It is also the job of a festival to try and vet their artists a bit.
Example, a longtime friend of many, many years booked Pentagram at a festival he curates before the Wax Idols/King Woman scandal broke. He had asked a newspaper I write for to feature it, which would fall on me as the nightlife columnist for the region. I am a big big fan of Wax Idols and also love King Woman’s stuff, particularly her depressing and cathartic side project Miserable. When I read the Pentagram allegations I was pretty disgusted and it seemed likely they were telling the truth, as even though Pentagram are a legendary and cool band, Bobby doesn’t exactly come off as consistent. I don’t like to rush to judgement on anyone, but at the end of the day it seemed to me the ladies were telling the truth.
Since then, any time I have communicated with the vocalists of Wax Idols or King Woman they have always been very nice, showing a lot of integrity. Even when once or twice in correspondence when I was in a really hyper manic state, something I suffer from and struggle with greatly at times, they were still very polite and cool. It told me a lot about their character as people…as in, it must’ve taken a lot of bullshit for both bands t drop off a tour.
I decided since I’d agreed ahead of time to still do the article on Meltasia but mention in it that I had reservations about Pentagram and why. I knew it might upset my friend Andy, but I felt it was the best compromise and he understood after the fact. The festival went forward and was a great success and lots of people had fun at the old zoo where it was held. I personally didn’t go due to work and also wanting to wait for another year where Pentagram wasn’t playing. No harm, no foul.
By the end of last night Lennon was saying that he doesn’t think that Globelamp didn’t
have a RIGHT to protest or boycott (as it initially seemed to a lot of Globelamp fans) but that he wouldn’t stand for being slandered as a
privileged anti victim person, but he still accused Elizabeth of ulterior motives. I
understand Lennon is upset but I think that is pretty distasteful.
Globelamp is not “crazy”.
Imagine from her point of view feeling ignored and knowing you have been through some heavy shit and feeling like it is swept under the rug or you are supposed to watch your career suffer for the greater good? Then when you try and tell your story people think you are hysterical or label you as “unhinged”. People have emotions. Sometimes when we are in pain they get messy. Especially in a case of PTSD you can’t always expect the person to mind their manners when they already feel like they are on eggshells.
I suffer from manic depression and PTSD as well and had some terrible panic attacks earlier this year and I really relate to how scary it is when you want to communicate well but are very emotionally invested in something and distressed when it seems hopeless or very hard to move forward and shoulder grief or have healthy relationships.
tweeted at or hatemail often to move on, as if there
is a proper period for PTSD or grief or anger.
Look, for years I was angry at Coheed & Cambria for feeling they whitewashed my sister Cambria out of existence and then didn’t intervene when their fans called her a whore or a liar or also called me a liar or mocked my depression. There were many bad flare ups before I could forgive them, some productive and some really regrettable and destructive. It all could’ve been avoided if they’d owned up and we had had a problem solving conversation to find a comfortable resolution but after fifteen or so years that has still not happened. It has always been on me to not rock the boat or face being called crazy or get blacklisted. That sucks. I think I had every right to tell people not to support them. Thankfully Dr. Know of Bad Brains and I had a very heailng talk last year and he helped me let go of a lot of anger I was holding towards them (he is mutual friends with them) that was getting very damaging to me, but everyone has their own process. Elizabeth, for example, deserves to be heard and shouldn’t be told her call for a boycott is “uncool”. That is gaslighting. People can decide for themselves to support her or not, with all due respect to Sean who I believe is also a well meaning person at heart.
I have written up Lennon’s GOASTT when they played BSP Kingston in my town and always thought he seemed like a nice guy. But let’s not call Elizabeth “crazy”. That can cause real rifts and leads to problematic victim blaming type stuff, as in the Ke$ha case.
Admittedly, Sometimes protest goes too far. Read this great Decibel Mag piece by our chum Neil from mighty Krieg.
Antifa protesters getting violent towards Taake was absurd. If you don’t like a bands politics you can complain to the venue but don’t endanger other concert goers, yourself or the band. People didn’t like some Neo-Nazis that Santos Party House booked and protested and the venue closed. Sad, cuz was a cool venue? Sure. Should they have booked better? Absolutely. Was it an effective protest? Yes.
Let’s try and all remember in the social media age and in general we should really try to choose our words well. That’s not pro censorship or whatever but you can’t blame people for drawing lines around sensitive topics. The key is to try and keep dialogue going, not to shutter anyone in as “not cool” who has a dissenting view.
In Globelamp and Desert Daze’s case, I hope she and Sean Lennon stop fighting. They are both very talented and capable people who can benefit the music world and greater world a lot. MUCH more so, I hope Foxygen release some statement acknowledging Elizabeth’s pain and hoping for a healing resolution. It would be big of them, set a good example (as opposed to the Brock Turners of the world) and also make it easier to support their booking. But expecting someone punched in the face by an act on a bill to not call for a Boycott of said festival for the “greater good” is really not fair.