College cancels next week’s sold-out Death In June show at Salem Old Town Hall [UPDATE] The show will go on… but where?
UPDATED 5:28pm EST, Sunday, September 15: The Death In June show on Thursday will happen, organizers say, but they are mum on the exact location. “At the moment, all I can say is that the show is not cancelled and will be taking place,” Thomas Nöla of Disques de Lapin tells Vanyaland late Sunday afternoon. We’ll update you when we get more information. But because all the tickets have already been sold, this could very well become a private event somewhere out of the spotlight.
Where have you gone, Boyd Rice? The sold-out Death In June show slated for September 19 at Salem Old Town Hall has been cancelled by the school that operates the facility, according to CBS Boston.
Gordon College, a small, Wenham-based Christian school that books events at the historical building, nixed the show after allegedly receiving complaints via email and by phone that the experimental folk group was “neo-fascist.” According to the Facebook event page, the show has been sold out since July 23.
This, of course, comes a few short months after T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge cancelled a Cold Cave gig on June 26, which featured an opening set by, and collaboration with, controversial noise artist Boyd Rice. Rice has worked with Death In June in the past, and is cited online as a former member.
Here’s the word according to CBS Boston:
Protest emails and phone calls poured into school officials, eventually raising enough concerns that they decided to cancel the sold-out concert that was scheduled for Thursday, September 19.
The show was supposed to feature the band Death in June, a controversial two-piece act that has been accused by some groups of being neo-fascist, an allegation that the band denies. The group reportedly uses fascist and Nazi symbols on their albums and during their stage shows.
On Friday evening, the school announced it was cancelling the rental agreement with the show’s organizer, saying the rental agreement allows them to cancel a reservation “under extenuating circumstances.”
“This decision is based on several factors that came to light this week after we learned the name of the band performing and the reputation for unrest that has accompanied many of their performances. These include reports of vandalism associated with Death in June’s most recent concerts on the West Coast. Additionally, negative feedback regarding the show and threats to disrupt it have come to the attention of Salem police and suggest that even heightened security will not be sufficient to forestall or avoid damage to this historic building,” a statement from the school read. “In the interest of both public safety and in our primary responsibility to protect the integrity of an historic property, we do not believe an historic site such as Old Town Hall is the appropriate venue for this performance.”
The veteran ensemble act, which formed in 1981 in England and features chief songwriter and mainstay Douglas Pearce, kicked off their US tour last night in Los Angeles and play San Francisco tonight. Our sources in LA tells us there were more than 800 people paid at the Vex last night, with zero incidents and zero protestors.
Similar to the Cold Cave tour routing a few months ago, Death In June are expected to play Brooklyn the night after the now-cancelled Massachusetts gig. That show, at the Bell House, is still on as planned.
Death in June, the musical group that has ignited protests worldwide because it uses Nazi imagery, ended up playing in a secret location Thursday night after its show at the historic Old Town Hall in Salem was canceled because of security concerns.
Promoters told only ticket holders, via email, of the hastily arranged new location Thursday. While those who planned to attend the concert remained mum on its location on a Facebook page created for the event, the show’s promoter revealed Friday that it was held at the Lucky Dog Music Hall in Worcester, some 65 miles away.
“The show went off without a hitch,” said Thomas Nola, the Salem musician who promoted the event.
“Yes, I was secretly offered the (already sold-out) show this past Monday when they were scrambling to find a location,” said Erick Godin, owner of the Lucky Dog. “I’ve read a lot about them over the past few days and while all this negative attention was given them in all the things I read, the 200 people that showed up were some of the best behaved folks we’ve ever had at the club.
“Zero incidents, no evidence of any of the controversy listed in the articles. Although the music was not my personal cup of tea, it was played well and all of the fans were so excited to see them. Had I not read anything about them before the show happened, I’d have had absolutely no knowledge they were wrapped in such controversy.”
Michael Marotta, a former music editor for the Boston Phoenix and founder of the online music magazine vanyaland.com, attended the concert and said there were mostly older fans dressed in Goth garb. He said Death in June has a small “cult following,” and traced the group’s use of Nazi imagery to earlier punk musicians such as Johnny Rotten, who used to wear a swastika shirt on stage.
“I just think it’s part of the schtick. No one in there was saluting the band with a ‘sieg heil’ salute or anything like that,” Marotta said.
The performance was the culmination of a weeklong debate about the reason for banning the group in Salem. A representative for Gordon College, a Christian university in Wenham that has managed performances at the city-owned Old Town Hall in Salem for five years, said the concert was canceled because of protests and concern that the 197-year-old building might be damaged.
Nola, the promoter, blames city officials, and said Salem didn’t want any publicity that might deter fall tourism.
Gordon College spokesman Rick Sweeney said the college decided to cancel the concert after it received e-mails about previous disruptions at Death in June concerts, and also after a poster was found this month near the Salem building threatening to disrupt the event.
Sweeney cited what happened in California when protesters who sought to cancel the concert glued the locks and painted graffiti at the Vex Arts Center, a Los Angeles concert hall where Death in June played Sept. 12.
Salem’s Old Town Hall, which also houses the Salem Museum, is the oldest surviving municipal building in the city. It was built in 1816-17.
Old Town Hall is used primarily for private weddings, recitals, and for Gordon College’s theatrical production of “Cry Innocent,” a play about the Salem Witch Trials, which is performed during the summer and returns for the Halloween season Oct. 5-31.
Sweeney said Gordon did not cancel the concert because of the content of the band’s lyrics. Death in June is a two-person neofolk group, led by British guitarist and vocalist Douglas Pearce. Pearce typically appears onstage wearing a mask, and wields the totenkopf, the skull and bones insignia also used by German forces in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The band is known for its controversial ballads and lyrics, such as “Fields of Rape” and “Rose Clouds of Holocaust,” which has been criticized as a Holocaust denial song.
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.
RELATED: Live Review: Death In June in Worcester: ‘On this ironic evening when the witch hunts continue’, September 20, 2013
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.
With a handshake,
Above: Death In June at The Lucky Dog Music Hall. Mätthew Griffin/Worcester Magazine
On Thursday, September 19, political post-punk pioneers turned acoustic with tribal drumming neo-folk duo, Death In June, played a pre-sale sold-out secret show at Worcester’s infamous Lucky Dog Music Hall. Having legendary acts playing the 89 Green Street location is nothing new to Worcester music patrons – recall the Rolling Stones had played the venue in 1980, under the secret moniker of “The Cockroaches.” Much like this past Thursday’s concert, the club was packed to capacity and a new legend was born.
The band was originally booked to play in Salem, Mass. at the Old Salem Town Hall. But the week before the scheduled concert, protestors of the band contacted the Town Hall’s financier Gordon College and convinced him that the show should be cancelled, sighting the alleged use of Nazi imagery in song lyrics, album art and merchandise. Lead member of Death In June, Douglas Pierce (also known to fans as “Douglas P”), an out homosexual, does not subscribe to Nazism or Nazi political beliefs.
Quickly, a “secret” venue was sought and was to be announced to ticket holders only, via point of purchase from the record label website, Eskimofilms.com. I was asked to find the new venue and decided on The Lucky Dog Music Hall after a conversation with venue owner Erick Godin.
Godin being approached about hosting the show at The Lucky Dog says, “Well, not knowing anything about the surrounding publicity the band had gotten, of course a sold-out show would always make sense. I was excited [to be] approached … with the event.”
Boston’s Keith Bennett of Panzerbastard was at the secret show at The Lucky Dog. When asked what he thought about the performance, he said, “It was a perfect gig. Douglas P is a true Shaman.”
Worcester’s Mountain Man drummer Patrick Murphy says, “The audience was the most diverse group of people I’ve seen at a show. Douglas P was surprisingly lighthearted about the whole Salem issue. I had a great time and was really happy with the selection of material.”
Teresa Niedziecki, Cambridge bartender and gothic scene nightclub matriarch of former Ground Zero and ManRay, now TT The Bear’s Place’s Teresa, says of the gig, “It was great! I would have liked to have heard my favorite DIJ song – Rose Clouds of Holocaust, but settled for my Little Black Angel.”
Neidzwiecki’s partner for the weekly TT The Bear’s Place New Wave Dance Night “HEROES,” DJ Chris Ewen remembers the band’s first ever appearance in the US at ManRay in Cambridge, in November of 1996. “The Worcester DIJ show brought back so many memories, yet was very much of the here and now. Time hasn’t diminished any of DIJ’s power, and if anything, I think they’re as relevant now as they’ve always been, so it wasn’t any kind of nostalgia show for me. It was actually everything I was hoping it would be, from the most beautiful 12 string guitar and iconic vocals, to the throbbing percussion and song choices … although I would have loved to hear ‘Rose Clouds of Holocaust!’ That’s not a complaint, as the whole evening was perfect in every way.”
Dark Sky Production’s CEO and founder, Anderson Lynne Mar, says, “Europe’s culture in regard to the arts is very different than that of the US.” As for her thoughts on an international act like DIJ that is use to playing festivals as the headliners in Europe, she says, “In Europe, musicians and festivals get government funding and subsidized housing. If I lived in France or Denmark, I’d get paid to write and perform music, and not have to succumb to “dayjobia” like musicians the US do.”
It’s not uncommon for bands that are big in Europe to play smaller clubs in the US, especially when they are not getting commercial radio airplay in the US. Signed or unsigned, underground is still underground, and if you’re not Top 40, you’re likely going to be playing a club that holds less than 500. That being said, the show was more than just a secret, it was a act of support for both the band and its fans from the music scene here in Worcester.