EXCLUSIVE: Lionfight Comment On Incident With Venue Staff This Past Weekend

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This past weekend, the Chicago-based metalcore outfit known as Lionfight played at a venue in Massachusetts called Anchors Up. While they were there, guitarist Akash believes he and his bandmate Nick were singled out by some members of staff due to their race. The band decided to continue with their set as usual, and left without any physical confrontation.

They posted some vague information about the incident on their Facebook page, and soon after were contacted by the owner of the venue. He requested they remove the post, but they declined. Shortly after they received numerous blocked phone calls. Though they do not know for certain who did this, they are confident it has something to do with the incident. You can read the initial statement they made on Facebook below.

For the first time in probably a decade I ran into some kids who were giving me trouble because of the color of my skin. Haverhill, Massachusettes – you made me feel like I was in elementary school again. We played at this super “punk” venue that didn’t believe in backtracks/samples … Which is totally okay. We like to be that raw band that can play with or without bass drops and pull it off either way. It was only the way the venue workers got in my face, told me they can’t help us and remained pointing at me for the rest of the night. They also mentioned calling their other gang friends to take care of the situation. I remained calm , finished our set, packed up and left. It blows my mind that another human being who is breathing and blinking the same way I am…. Could judge me without knowing me. It’s the year 2014 everyone – racism shouldn’t even be a thing anymore. We don’t feel comfortable playing at Anchors Up anymore – but thank you for those who showed up with an open mind and accepted everyone. I love you ALL and will see you on the rest of this tour.

There is one kind of race on this earth – and that is the human race.

-AKASH

We reached out to both the band and the venue requesting some details as to what was said/done. Lionfight responded to some email questions we sent them. You can read Akash’s responses below.

Let’s start from the beginning. In your statement on Facebook, you said some kids were giving you trouble because of the color of your skin, could you detail what was said/done?

Since this whole question and my post on Lionfight’s Facebook page is geared towards racism, I want to start by saying that racism isn’t always the obvious. It doesn’t always have to be a word or a phrase. It can also come in the form of a gesture, action or projected feeling towards someone. Nick and I definitely felt the discrimination coming from some of the employees at Anchors Up right away and we feel the discrimination came from a racist place. Nick and I are the only two members on this tour package of a different color and we were the only two people on this package to receive this special treatment from the staff. Whether you may feel this to be racism, or just plain discrimination, it doesn’t change the way we feel about what happened to us. Either way, this is NO way anyone should be treated and we feel strong about this so we decided to speak up.

With that being said, our negative experience began before our performance. Nick and I approached two workers standing behind the soundboard and told them we needed one mic and one DI Box (Direct Input) for our performance. Like many bands today, we perform to a metronome/click track with timed samples and effects playing throughout our performance. One of the workers responded to our request saying, “We don’t do that here.” The venue itself, did not own a DI box, I was told. Luckily, a member of our tour package brought an extra DI. We then mentioned having our own DI and the fact that every band on our tour package also utilizes a DI Box for their respective performances. The worker replied, “We will never do that here. We just don’t do it.” Meanwhile, the venue had been blasting change-over music which was plugged Direct In (DI) to their PA system from an iPod, throughout the entire show. So, I mentioned that our tracks wouldn’t have to be played as loud as the music being played from their iPod. I then asked if I could get the venue owner’s number so I could call him and ask him about using the DI box. Fed up with our questions, the worker stepped toward me, got nose to nose with me and said, “Listen Fuckwad, it didn’t matter what you said about it, you aren’t using a DI. You shouldn’t look at me anymore.” He then walked through me as if I wasn’t there, pushing me out of his way to get outside. Shocked with how poorly we were treated, Nick and I decided to let it go and not create a bigger issue. We then went outside to inform our band that were just going to play without our tracks running through their PA. While discussing the situation with the rest of Lionfight, the venue workers overheard our conversation and began to mock us. One worker said, “oh yeah, have fun rocking out, faggots”, while mimicking our voices. Even though we were furious, we sucked it up, walked back inside the venue and played our set. After our set, we chatted with some fans for a second and then Nick and I started packing up our gear outside. We were being stared down by every worker out there. They were checking us out, pointing at us, and sneering. The other members in our band, and even other members of our tour package, noticed how these workers were acting toward Nick and I. A few members of the tour package kept coming up to ask Nick and I if everything was okay. We finished loading our gear and decided to leave the venue early to avoid any more of this behavior. We were not being treated as equals and we were not welcome. Nick and I felt extremely uncomfortable.

Were those people employees of the venue? (If not, please state what the employees did to you as well).

The people that were giving us trouble claimed to work at the venue, Anchors Up. According to all of the replies we’ve received on our Facebook post, it appears that Anchors Up is a DIY communal gathering place of sorts. So I’m not necessarily sure if they actually have employees in the conventional term.

After the initial incident, did you complain to anyone on staff or management? I remember reading that the owner of the venue was not present at the time.

The staff at the venue were the same people directing their hostility toward Nick and I, so we couldn’t discuss with them. The owner was not there and we tried getting a hold of him initially for the DI situation, in which we were denied by the staff. I only had a chance to talk to the show promoter on the phone after we had already left. The promoter was the only person we have received an apology from.

You also mentioned they were talking about “calling their other gang friends to take care of the situation.” Can you walk us through that conversation and what prompted them to say that?

After we had played our set, a member of our tour package came up to us and said that if we didn’t want to be a part of a fight, we should leave. Apparently, he overheard a few workers talking about calling some of their friends because they were interested in starting a fight. We used the word “gang” due to a lack of a better term. We meant it as a group of friends and nothing more than that. We assume at this point they thought we were going react to their bullshit so they wanted their buddies there just in case. However, that’s not really our thing. We’re not going to react through physical aggression. As far as what prompted them to say that, we have no clue. At that point, our set was done and we were loading out to get out.

In a followup post that has since been removed, you said you received a series of harassing phone calls after you refused to take down your original post. Was there any indication of who made those calls? (I will make sure not to say it was definitely them if you are unsure. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.) Did they say anything specifically regarding the incident at the venue?

First off, we don’t know why that post was removed. We didn’t delete it and no one on our team deleted it. As you can tell by this interview and the fact that we haven’t deleted any of the hateful, irreverent garbage that’s now all over our Facebook page, we are all about freedom of speech. We don’t delete things. Who knows, maybe Facebook took it down. Regardless, if you want to still hear the voicemail, we have it up on our YouTube page. Here is a direct link to it: http://youtu.be/tLnX9mm8KS4.

After the show I decided to reach out to our fans on Facebook to let them know my take on what happened and how I felt about the situation. I wanted people to know what Nick and I had experienced and the unsettling feeling we felt. Call it what you want, but the bottom line is that we were looked at and treated differently than every other person at the venue that day. The owner called our tour manager later that night, wanting to speak to me about what happened at the show and asking that we take down our Facebook post. Without giving any sort of apology for how we were treated at his venue, he continued asking me to take the post down. The owner said that, at that point, he had received multiple emails about the incident, asking him if that’s how he runs his business. He said that because of our post, he was fearful that he would lose out on national tours, thus causing his venue to shut down. Look, we don’t want something extreme like that to happen, but this venue definitely needs major change. We will be the first to say that we will never play this venue again if a change isn’t made. He also mentioned that he had showed up for the last part of the show, long after the incident and long after we had left.

After getting off the phone with the owner, the phone I used to talk with the owner received multiple calls from a blocked number. The first call was answered by our tour manager. The prank caller inquired if our band wanted to be a a part of a musical festival known as “Nazi-fest.” The caller also asked how we would like to be paid for said “fest,” and asked if we would want to be paid by “getting our dicks sucked.” Our tour manager knew the reason for the prank call and told the caller that he was disappointed for the caller feeling this upset about our Facebook post not being taken down, and then he hung up. A few minutes later, a second call from the blocked number (same person) came through, but was left unanswered. The prank-caller then left a voicemail on the phone. The caller in the message asked if this was the tour manager of “lion tiger,” purposefully mispronouncing our band name. The caller then asked if he could pay our band money in order for us to “suck each other’s dicks.” The very next day (7/6), our tour manager’s phone received 5 more blocked calls that were all left unanswered. No other voicemails were left. We can’t confirm that it was the owner that called from the blocked number, but he was the only one from the venue that had the number and the voice definitely sounds like his. Take that for what you will.

 

If/when we hear back from the venue we will update this post with their comments as well.

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  • Burt Batman

    Wow, these morons are given a chance to explain the racism they claim occurred, and they can’t give an actual example and just beat around the bush. Hey dummies, numerous workers and friends of Anchors Up are not white, so it’s about time you pack up that argument along with your weak DJ equipment and stay out of MA. You might not need us and we certainly don’t need you and your “energy rock.” And if you do come back you will get it in a bad way. Losers.

  • Brian Lion

    I take it you work at Anchors Up or are you just angry for some other reason?

  • andy of oc

    So. Burt… do you just validated posts for a living, cause your empty threat just balced up there story. One with most likely you as the hostel party.
    But hey, if you were smart, I would nit be laughing so thank you.

    Ps
    “Im not racist, I have a black friend.” Argument was stellar.

  • Tyler Cole

    it’s funny how they portray themselves. completely innocent. I was one of the workers that day and can 100% guarantee there was no racial prejudice whatsoever. you guys rolled in like rock stars, ignored where we told you to park/put your equipment. BEING A MINORITY MYSELF I FIND IT PITIFUL THAT YOU WOULD PULL THE RACE CARD. grow up, stop crying wolf. I am embarrassed to say I shook your hand and introduced myself to you Akash, you are a embarrassment to the musicians everywhere. respect is given when deserved and you absolutely did not deserve any whatsoever. hopefully one day you will realize lying and stomping your feet won’t get you anywhere in life.

  • Kriston McConnell

    I definitely would like to give both sides of the story. If the owner decides to get back to me I’ll be happy to include his remarks. It sounds like at least a handful of people were rubbed the wrong way that night.

  • Maybe you should’ve done that in the first place…

  • Jim

    I too wouldn’t mind seeing the venue’s side of the story because by the looks of all the comments siding with the venue, everyone (on the venue’s side) disregards the shit treatment that was given to this band. It sounds like most of the comments have nothing to do with the situation and it’s just babble or they go back to the race thing, which none of us can prove. If the kid felt like this was racist in any way, then to him it was. It’s not any of our places to tell someone how they feel towards a situation. Now does anyone on your side want to tell the story or are you guys going to continue to hold onto your loose argument or, worse, continue to spew out this garbage that has nothing to do with the situation at all?

  • Guest2

    ” you will get it in a bad way”? Sounds like every bad 80’s bully. Instead of being childish as hell ,why don’t you do what Tyler Cole did below and give legitimate reasons of why you don’t agree with what was said..

  • Kriston McConnell

    I reached out to the venue and have not heard back yet. If you read my article you’d see that I stated I reached out to them and that I would update the article as soon as I heard back.

  • Brian Lion

    He’s gonna feed ’em a knuckle sandwich, ya fuzzball!

  • Austin Sparkman

    You told us to park in the Enterprise parking lot and then told us to move again. Lame argument.

    I also love the whole “we’re not racist but you’re a bunch of faggots” comments coming from a lot of these kids. We’re dealing with real intellects evidently.

  • More like you just couldn’t wait to get it on the fun with your favorite band.

  • Kriston McConnell

    Right, you got me!

  • Bailey Rose

    What’s truly troubling is that they cannot validate their claims of racism, nor have they tried, yet theyre being catered to like small children. Racism is a serious issue so for them to use that as an avenue to get revenge is infuriating. While some of the AU supporters may have not expressed their anger eloquently, you cannot merely brush them off by calling them childish. This accusation is completely unfounded. This band even had the gall to lie and state that they spoke with others who had experienced racism at this venue yet could not offer up any evidence of that either. They took a minor issue about sound and turned it into something much more dramatic so that they wouldnt be laughed at for complaining about the issue…. furthermore, if you are touring its your responsibility to do the research on the venues youll be playing to make sure they can accomodate you. Its not the venues responsibility to cater to your every wish and need if its going to ruin their equipment. This band plays the innocent as if they did not serve up a rockstar attitude. When you go to Anchors Up you are going to a DIY Punk/Hardcore based venue with a multiracial crowd. There are kids from every walk of life and no one is turned away. However if you choose to present yourself with an attitude you will be met with an attitude, and if youre acting like a whiney toddler than yes, people will laugh at you. Such is life. If youre going to slander every venue that turns you down, or claim racism on any person who isnt of your background simply because your requests weren’t met than youre going to have very difficult lives.

    And this article is clearly bias, and should not have been posted before recieving the other side of the story.

  • AyeKay

    As this is evident that it is a member of this band, you shouldn’t be posing as the owner/using the owners name to make this post. It does not help your case at all.

  • AyeKay

    It’s very sad that the management of this band has been talked to about this to squash peacefully what is going on. The band has OPENLY admitted to their own management that it might have just been a complete misunderstanding. The band didn’t understand at all that the equipment we have at Anchor’s Up care barely give us the ability to let people sing, let alone play samples. They continued to press the issue like rock stars until our staff couldn’t deal with their ego/posturing anymore. Nothing racist was said, nor was anyone racially persecuted. As a veteran staff member of AU, and someone of color, I have kept that place prejudice free for many years now. Some of the staff may be young and quick to temper sometimes, but they all understand how to control themselves until someone is being an obvious asshole to them. This band (Lionfight) walked into our humble venue without any respect for what we have built. We aren’t the House of Blues or some big venue like that, and sometimes we simply can’t cater to the needs of a band because of our limitations. As Tyler Cole (one of the younger staffers there) said, they are not innocent in this – it was a two-way situation. I hope a retraction/edit of this article can be negotiated by the staff so at least if we are going to have a glimpse into the situation itself, it is actually presented with truth.

  • AyeKay

    Tyler was there and his account should be taken into the whole story. As a staff member who was not there, but was informed about everything that happened, I can at least say from our standpoint we were the ones who were treated with a lack of respect because of a simple technological disadvantage. We hope you can amend this story as to properly attest to the attempt the staff made in trying to be civil with them. I am sure you can contact Austin (who runs AU) about this as he has been talking to this bands management since the start of this to stop such an obvious case of slander.

  • Paul Kilian

    I’m a regular patron of the venue and have ran doors/did admission at a handful of shows. I was also not at this show in particular, but I’m friends with a few people who ran it and I can tell you what actually happened.

    This C level metalcore band came into a DIY punk venue and expected their samples to be played. They were told kindly that they were not able to do it because of an aged soundboard. This band proceeded to act like rockstars and give the staff that night an attitude. What did the staff do in response? They treated these idiots like they should have been treated. Like a second rate group of rockstars at a punk venue. Nobody acted racist toward this band, funny they’d make these accusations, because a few staff members running the show that night were fucking people of color. You can ask any POC that is a patron of Anchors Up and they can squash those accusations of racism immediately. There’s no merit to these bands accusations whatsoever and everyone should take this for what it is: this is just a butthurt band trying to badmouth a great venue.

  • Dean

    Hold on here. I am the band’s management and I haven’t received one bit of contact from Austin. Austin has talked to our agent, our tour manager and the packages tour manager, but he hasn’t reached out to me once. Based on the conversations I’ve had with my team, I know Austin has my contact info and he is free to reach out at anytime. Due to the lack of professionalism he and his staff has shown throughout this ordeal, I highly doubt he will get anywhere with me though. He sealed his own fate when he decided to prank call our tour manager multiple times leaving disgusting, homophobic messages. That is not a way someone should run their business, ever. There is no argument to this.

    Furthermore, your comment about being treated with lack of respect because of a “simple technological disadvantage” is pretty out there. There was no simple technical disadvantage. The sound guy didn’t want to play the backing tracks. That’s it. You guys have the capability to do so considering you were playing change over music which was ran through an iPod that played over your PA. The backing tracks my client uses and the music you play off of the iPod function in the exact same way. It could have been done and it should have been done.

    Slander…this word has been brought up a few times. Why? I don’t know because by definition alone, it makes no sense to be a part of this conversation. No false accusations have been given. There is plenty of proof out there for that. If you feel that I am incorrect about this, you have my attention to prove me wrong.

    Finally, I am waiting to hear Austin’s side of the story or any of the employees that night. They’ve all been quiet since after the prank calls and, for them, that’s probably a good idea. I’m confident they haven’t shared anything yet, because they have nothing concrete to share. Tyler didn’t even share much other than opinions (rockstars (what does that even mean?), grow up, stop crying wolf, AN embarrassment to musicians, lying and stomping your feet). Thanks for your opinions Tyler. Now I know where to get more if I need them.

    The one and only thing he really brought up was the parking/gear issue and let’s be honest, is that really a reason to start treating people like shit? Because they didn’t park where you wanted them to or they didn’t put their gear where you wanted them to? The venue is going to begin their unprofessionalism because of parking and gear. Get real.

  • Aaron

    If I can infer anything from what I’ve read, the employees of Anchor Up were assholes because you, Akash, seem like an incredibly annoying little shit.

    Really, who in their right mind asks for a venue owner’s phone number over something as miniscule as not being able to use a DI? You should have been slapped then and there for that. The first time he said, “No.” you should have just left it alone.

  • Jim

    The first time he asked for it, it should have been completed. The venue should have set it up for them. The venue caters to the artist, not the other way around. The venue isn’t a venue without artists to play at it. The artists are still artists without venues, because anything can be made a venue.

  • Aaron

    What do you not understand about “We don’t do that here.”

    If they don’t do DI, they don’t do DI. Get over it, you entitled dorks.

  • Paul Kilian

    “The venue caters to the artist, not the other way around.” Looks like someone here has a ridiculous sense of entitlement considering the band you’re backing. This band has a manager, tour manger, and label manager like you’re Megadeth in 1991 or something but it seems like they can’t draw a fucking crowd at all and people are saying “who?” whenever Lionfight is mentioned lol and you’re acting like Anchors Up has never seen a touring band before when AU just threw a line of insane shows that went off with out a hitch with the likes of Turnstile, Chain of Strength, the Mongoloids, etc. etc. etc.

  • AyeKay

    Austin will most likely be talking to you about the first part, so I won’t go into that further. On the topic of our sound system – I have to stress to you the limitations of what we have. It might, to the laymen, look like we have a pretty sweet set up, but in all honesty we are barely kicking along with what we have. The main reason we can’t run a sample and live mics at the same time is because it would blow out the PA speakers. When we play music, we kill the mics and also make sure we have it dialed as far back as possible. We actually have to get new speakers but because we are a DIY underground venue, it’s hard for us to scrounge up cash to dish out for that. We’ve turned down many bands who wanted to use backing tracks/samples because our system couldn’t handle it.

    Secondly, yes I have used the word slander, because it fits. Not once has anyone from the band you manage said what was EXACTLY said that made them feel racially persecuted. All that has been said about AU is that it is an establishment that supports racism – simple a plain.

    Now about the prank calls. I know for a fact that Austin, Myself, nor another staff member has been involved in those. Those are from people who most likely frequent the venue and are pissed off with how your guys have handled this. They don’t speak for us or for Austin. That being said I, as a staff member, OPENLY reached out in a logical and peaceful manner on the facebook post you guys put up, in hopes I could get a message or a call about it. As I stated in that post – if you could have them explain exactly what happened in which one of the staff members was racially disrespectful and tell me who it was, I’d handle it. That post was not only ignored – you instead decided to bring this to the news forum to further the smear campaign.

    So far all this seems like to others, not even counting the people who visit and love Anchors Up, as a cheap and distasteful way to draw attention to Lionfight. I, and the staff of AU, would definitely like it if you actually reached out properly to settle this before it gets even more out of hand.

    At the end of the day, its about music, and somewhere that reason was lost.

  • AyeKay

    My FB name is Aye Kay and my email is bleedingthismind@gmail.com

    Feel free to contact me.

  • Bailey Rose

    Where is this “proof” you speak of? All I have seen is complaints about the samples/backtracks and complaints about people having an attitude, what does that have to do with racism? It sounds to me as if your friends were uncooperative and therefore were met with some frustration. Skin color or race has nothing to do with this. Its funny that some of our very own staff are the most passionate about this and theyre every race from african american to spanish to asian, etc. This claim of bigotry is outrageous.

  • Timothy LeClair

    Yo I don’t know your band or the story, so it’s probably ignorant, but straight up Anchors up has always been a culturally diverse little place, as is the entire city of Haverhill. But just off what I’m reading, you guys look like retards. I love the word retard, you can insult my mental capacity now.

  • Jim

    It’s got nothing to do with understanding. The fact is the venue caters to the artist. That’s how its been since the dawn of time. That’s how it should have been here. If “we don’t do that here” is your excuse, then dont call yourself a venue. By the sounds of how bad a shape your PA is in (reference AyeKay’s post above), you’re not really a respectable venue to begin with. Maybe if all of you guys weren’t such uppity elitist assholes, you’d get bigger bands in there that sell tickets so you can afford a proper PA system that can handle the most basic of functions. Seriously, get out of your own way. All of you. It’s because of the mentality that you guys have that will ruin this venue you cherish so much.

  • Aaron

    I can see that you’re young and don’t have a clue of what the fuck you’re talking about, you entitled weenie.

    In this case, this so called “elitism” as a DIY punk venue is acceptable if the argument against it is for the sake of one day having garbage bands like Lionfight and bands of their ilk as regulars.

    Fuck that.

  • Jim

    Thank you for regurgitation my words and arranging them to fit your need.

  • EP

    “The fact is the venue caters to the artist. That’s how its been since the dawn of time.”

    Oh yeah? Are you some kind of venue historian? Did you major in “venue history”? How well did the Roman coliseum cater to the performers there? How about the losing participants in a good ol’ game of Ōllamaliztli? (I’m sure I needn’t explain what that is since you’re well versed in anything that has to do with venues.)

    What seems to be the issue here is a culture that exists in the media now where anytime an issue of race, or hate speech or anything that walks some sort of ambiguous line involving either is brought up, there is immediate backlash through social media. The end result is the ultimatum of apologize publicly or lose jobs or business. Most of the time only one side of the story is ever heard and the “offending” party is forced to apologize. Of course this band would exploit the media to complain about a venue they had a problem with whilst crying racism to negatively affect their business. (although this appears to be some nothing, online blog so the term “media” is debatable in this case.)

    In short, I haven’t been to AU in a long time, but this popped up in my Facebook feed and it came off as utterly fucking preposterous. Nobody there is racist. Bottom line. Drop this bullshit smear campaign because it’s making you look like a total fraud. I’ve never heard of your band, but with a name like Lionfight who come in with all this talk of “tour packages” and all these different managers people have to go through to talk to you, you sound like you should change your name to Lionbunchofpretentiousdouchebagswhowhinealotandthenslanderpeoplewhentheydontgettheirway. Just drop the fight part right off, because you clearly just Lionrunaway.

  • ass clown

    Maybe no one liked you because you were a douche not because of your fucking skin color. Your band puts chicago to shame.