[dropcap]D[/dropcap]eath In June’s planned show last week at Salem’s Old Town Hall turned into quite the drama. After the event was nixed allegedly by Gordon College, the small Christian school that operates the historical building, promoters quickly found a new venue in Worcester’s Lucky Dog Music Hall, and that show went off without a hitch. There’s a lot to this story, it seems, and a lot of misinformation on what went on behind the scenes and in the days leading up to the September 19 show.
We’ve reported on the cancellation, we reviewed the Worcester show, and I’ve personally given two interviews about the ordeal (one to a cubicle reporter at the Boston Globe, another to Gordon College’s student newspaper). Who knew I was such a Death In June scholar? To keep the flow of information going, we’re reposting a message from Disques de Lapin, the event’s organizer, which surfaced today on the group’s Facebook page.
This is merely a re-post of their side of things, and not an endorsement in any way. Read it, read everything else, and form your own opinions.
Many things transpired during Lapin’s production of the recent Death In June show. There was plenty of fun, and plenty of lies. Here are the details…
Lots of people complained that the Salem venue was too small or unorthodox or this and that. ‘Tis important to clarify that I presented this show to just about every club big and small in the Boston area. They said no. The Middle East, The Paradise, Sinclair, TT The Bear’s, Brighton Music Hall, Great Scott and many others. Nope. They were not interested in a show that would almost certainly sell out (for reference the show sold nearly 200 tickets in 14 hours… in Salem). You can draw your own conclusions about why these clubs said no to all that money. I’ve drawn my own… they’re sissies, afraid of backlash from the local crybabies.
So I looked around and found a special venue that I could rent on my own in a special city. That was Old Town Hall in Salem. So I rented it out, spending over $1,000 out of pocket to secure it and, from the beginning, told Old Town Hall “DEATH IN JUNE WILL BE PLAYING THIS SHOW”. After tickets went on sale, some of you even called them up asking “ARE DEATH IN JUNE TICKETS SOLD OUT?” Old Town Hall acknowledged to me several times that Death in June was performing, and they did it back in July. They cashed my check, confirmed my booking and signed a contract with me.
And then all went smoothly until Tuesday September 10th. That’s when some local bedwetters lurched in front of computers in basements around the slums of Boston and Lynn to collectively cry “waaahhhhhh!!!!!!! Cancel this concert or we’ll gather in hordes with baseball bats and brass knuckles!!!” It was at this point that Old Town Hall contacted me about perhaps getting a police detail for the event. I said OK, and then I contacted the Salem Police Department. The police eventually got back to me, with the police chief asking if I could meet at Old Town Hall the next day to go over things like emergency exits and keeping the even safe from any possible protesters.
I said, but of course.
When I arrived, however, it was not merely a meeting with the chief of police. It was a meeting with the chief of police, a police captain, one of Mayor Driscoll’s trolls, a fire inspector and a building inspector. None of these people greeted me when I arrived, as they were too busy talking to each other in private. Eventually, they met with me and Marc Ewart (my liaison with Old Town Hall). Marc was far and away the most honest, pleasant, respectable person I dealt with during the entire thing. He stood up for me, the band and the show. But he was not allowed to make any of the decisions.
At the meeting, the police asked me many questions about what sort of symbols Death In June uses, why I chose to have the concert at a beautiful hall instead of the state college (because I didn’t fucking want to, that’s why), “I hear the band wears masks on stage… does the audience?” (yikes). The police had no interest in the threats of violence we received, no concern about locating the people interested in disrupting a peaceful public event… they just wanted to know what was wrong with Death In June and anyone foolish enough to try to put on one of their shows. I finally forced them to write down the personal details of the people making the threats. This likely wound up in the police wastepaper basket under the donut wrappers. They assured me that this was not a case of censorship. Whew! What a relief!
Some sniveling tool representing the mayor gave me his complaints about “public safety”. The fire department let me know that they would shut the show down if they got 1 threat of violence (not a threat involving fire, mind you… apparently firefighters are now tasked with preventing terrorism). The building inspector told me that the building’s floor boards may not be able to support the weight of 199 people. I do not believe he was trying to be funny when he said this. Everyone gave me their calling cards in unison, like a sort of choreographed bit.
The next morning (this is Friday the 13th, mind you), I received a call from the Police Department telling me that the captain demanded a 5 person police detail at the event, at my cost. This figure was quickly edited up to 6 police, as the 5 cops would need an additional “supervisor” on duty to oversee their standing around with their hands in their pockets, getting paid $44/hour. I informed them that this was completely unnecessary. They told me that I was wrong… that they knew more about this than I did. The total cost would be $1,100… in cash, up front that night. I said fine. Upon agreeing to their extortion, the police captain changed his tune and said that he didn’t even think he could get 6 cops to agree to “work” the even with only 6 days to go. I could see what was really going on here.
An article in the local paper came out later that day quoting the mayor as saying she is “trying to get her arms around” the show. No thanks, Mayor! You weren’t invited… it sold out long ago. The article is a thinly veiled opinion piece for Old Town Hall, where they say I hid the identity of the act playing, and that I was putting on the show merely as promotion for my label (as if I could be that savvy of a marketer).
Eventually the police gave in and agreed to extort $1,100 out of me for the event.
A few hours later, at 5PM on a Friday, a lawyer from Gordon College (a Christian college who administers Old Town Hall for the city… wait, what?) emailed me a letter stating that they were reneging on their contract with me for 9/19. I, of course, immediately called the lawyer. He had left for the weekend. As did the other offices at Gordon College. As did the people at the Mayor’s office. Why, it’s almost like this was a coordinated plan!
Over the weekend, I contact all sorts of venues, usually getting nowhere. MANY strangers contact me via Facebook offering help and giving me leads. Only one of these people expect something in return… most are doing this out of goodwill. By Sunday, I have venues to choose from in Everett, Worcester, Providence and New Hampshire. I decide on the Worcester venue (though the Boston club Ramrod did offer up their place later on Monday, a bit too late).
On the morning of the show, the police captain called me up asking about the replacement venue and proceeded to blather on about public safety, but I stopped him and let him know it wasn’t even taking place in Salem, so it was none of his concern. He then accused me of lying and said that if it was actually happening in Salem “and someone gets injured or killed, you’d be grossly negligent.” This is where I again tried to get into the small puddle of nerve cells that he calls a cop brain “IT AINT HAPPENING IN SALEM, CHAMP!” He told me that I was welcome to “protected speech.” “Some speech is more protected than other speech,” I replied. He told me he wasn’t looking to get into an argument with me. Well, then don’t call me up in the morning to call me a liar, “Captain.”
And from there, the rest is history. The show was epic.
Many thanks to those who attended and dealt with the inconvenience of the location change. And a very special thanks to those people who went above and beyond in looking for a replacement venue out of the goodness of their hearts, specifically John Zani, Mike Eleftheratos, Joseph Yglesias and Paul Hamblet.
1 other person offered help, then tried to extort hundreds of dollars out of me for it after the fact. That was not swell, but ultimately, no more than a small annoyance in an otherwise outstanding success of a show.
The moral of this story is… VICTORY! The usual suspects did all they could to get in the way or to take a cut of money, but they failed. They always fail.