Speedy Ortiz, a Massachusetts-based indie rock band, has always been outspoken about injustice. Now, the group is using their influence to protect their fans from intolerance at their own shows.
In a photo posted to their Facebook page yesterday, the band announced the creation of text and email hotlines for their concertgoers to use at their shows if they experience “racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, & all other oppressive and marginalizing actions and microaggressions,” in an effort to keep their shows safe and inclusive to all.
“Texts will go to us and we will work with venue security to try and get you out of harm’s way,” the band writes on Facebook. “It’s a new system we’re trying out and we’re sure it will require tweaks along the way, but we hope in the long run it can make our shows safer and more fun for everyone.”
Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis also tweeted that the concept is at least partially inspired by personal experience, and hopes that if it works other bands will follow suit.
sometimes as a showgoer i've felt unsafe & didn't know what to do. as a performer i've always have an easier time getting security's ear— speedy ortiz haunted presence? (@sad13) September 7, 2015
i'm hoping we can leverage our privilege as performers to help keep our friends in the crowd safer. we'll see how it goes but i'm optimistic— speedy ortiz haunted presence? (@sad13) September 7, 2015
and if this hotline help system does seem to work, we hope other bands will set them up too. hint hint ;)— speedy ortiz haunted presence? (@sad13) September 7, 2015
Punk and punk-inspired shows can often be unfriendly spaces for anyone who is not a straight white man. One example is earlier this summer, when Warped Tour, a nationwide pop-punk tour that’s been running for 21 years, allowed artist Front Porch Step to perform despite allegations of sexual misconduct with underage fans.
Also this year, writer Pilot Viruet described her experiences being black and a fan of punk music. “I was hanging by the bar when an asshole with laughable liberty spikes started repeatedly shouting the word ‘n****r’ with the sort of emphasis on the -er that comes from years of hatred,” she wrote for The Hairpin. “He believed that he belonged there and I did not.”
Music journalist Jessica Hopper recently asked others “women/marginalized folks” in the music industry to describe instances in which they’ve been harassed or not taken seriously, and was met with a flood of responses on Twitter.
@jesshopp Complaints about groping met with shrugs from venue staff, other bands. “Let the pros do their job, sweetie” in the photo pit.— Caroline Moore ⚡️ (@crikitmoore) August 24, 2015
@jesshopp as an Indian, being either fetishized or misidentified in most scenes I've been involved with (metal, LA beats, electronic)— ɥsɐʞɐɹdɯɐɹ ɥsəʌɹɐs (@sarvesh__) August 25, 2015
These are presumably the sort of interactions that Speedy Ortiz is attempting to curb at their shows. So far they’ve been met with positive reactions. However, there are those who don’t understand what the big deal is.
Who in god's name is getting their teeth knocked out at a speedy ortiz show? Am I missing something?— emmy (@neednomelody) September 8, 2015
Perhaps the most controversial part of their post is their request for taller concertgoers to stay in the back so short people can move up front and see better. Is it a considerate request, or unfair to those who got to the show first? As a short person who is often plagued by 6’5” men coming to a show late and somehow always finding the spot directly in front of me, I say they can see fine from the back.
Photo via wetwebwork/Wikimedia Commons (CC by 2.0)