When a celebrity or well-known musician gets arrested and you hear about it, it’s probably due to drunken brawling, a DWI, or drug possession. Public indecency is also up there, along with assault charges and disorderly conduct. “Vandalism” is a term that is generally replaced with destruction of property in such cases, but it exists rampantly on the smaller scale and it pisses everybody off.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out for dinner and a drink or two with a friend, to celebrate the purchase of his brand new Mustang. We picked a bar and restaurant a few towns north of us, so he could drive it more, and had a pretty decent time. We finished and left, and as we walked closer to his car in the parking lot, he became agitated, and started swearing under his breath. At first I had no idea why. I thought maybe someone who’d had one too many hit his car, but something far more annoying had happened.
Some douche slapped a crooked sticker for what we later found out was a super crappy band local to that area right on his new baby’s rear bumper. And not just his car; the mystery offender hit every car in the lot. I followed him back inside as he complained, and the manager didn’t bother to do anything for him. They allegedly didn’t even have security cameras in the parking lot. We were on our own.
The angriest Facebook search ever ensued, and my friend sent a seething message to the band, whose response was, “Whoa, not us, dude! Probably a crazy fan!” I’m not kidding. That was the response we received from a shitty band of basement dwellers with not even 200 “Likes” on Facebook and a group banner made in Microsoft Paint. As you can imagine, we are very doubtful.
This is vandalism, boys and girls. And while it may seem harmless as you’re giggling and peeling off sticker backs, and while you may feel daring as you slap ‘em on strangers’ cars…people get arrested for that. And uh, they should. Defacing property is so junior high it’s not even laughable. Pay for fucking ad space.
It’s almost as obnoxious as guilt-tripping people who come up to your merch table, browse, and try to leave without buying anything because they’re not friggin’ interested in your crap. I’ve had musicians tell me I “don’t support bands” for not buying a $30 t-shirt. I’ve heard “don’t be a bitch” after passing up CDs from bands I’d heard play, and just truthfully did not care for. I’ve had my hands and arms grabbed or latched onto as I’ve tried to walk away, while people I did not know got very close to me, invaded my personal space, and tried to convince me to buy merch.
If you in any way think this makes you, or your entire band, look good and cool and important…you’re wrong as hell. And you should really stop this behavior. Just because you have a table with your stuff on it doesn’t mean anyone’s obligated to care. You’re not the only people ever to need gas money or Taco Bell. You’re not The Beatles and some people will just not be interested and that is how life works. Learn to deal.
Now, circling back to assault charges…these can and should include ANY form of harassment—whether YOU think it is or isn’t—in which instance one or more people are made to feel uncomfortable, instead of simply irritated. This should not be negotiable, and is not excusable. If it is difficult for you to tell when you are making someone uncomfortable or scared, well, maybe you should stay home.
Hanging around someone who has expressed disinterest, continuing to touch someone who’s already made attempts at getting away from you, or trying to leave with someone who’s told you to piss off 40 times is harassment, whether one or both of you is drunk or not. And in that case, what are you doing getting sloppy anyway? You have a job to do. Shame on you. Fighting with other bands, messing with their equipment or merch (and we’re back to vandalism), or disrespecting the venue count as belligerent harassment as well. And as much as I’d really love to believe we all know better, I see it all the time. And it’s fucking stupid.
But in particular, musicians perving on girls who are clearly uncomfortable is something that simply does not sit right with me. It is a very popular misconception that incredibly tight pants just make you some hyper-desired dynamo, irresistible to women everywhere. No.
There wasn’t much in the way of a local music scene, for me personally anyway, until I was about 14. I started going to the fire hall shows because they were easily accessible and my friends played them often. A band from Virginia was playing one night, and they were okay, but it was clear they were mad about being a supporting band for locals while they were on tour. They got drunk in the parking lot after their set, then came back inside to sell merch.
I was looking at their stuff when their bassist wrapped his arms around me and hugged me from behind. Some people are just huggers, so I laughed it off, assuming he’d let go quickly. His hands moved to my hips and I wiggled away from him as politely as I could. He started chiding me and I told him to leave me alone and it wasn’t until a friend in another band saw what was happening and came over that he let go of my hand. My friend told him I wasn’t interested, he protested. My friend then told him I was only 16 (he had to have been in his mid-20s) and he got angry and loud with me, yelling about how I didn’t tell him that.
It wasn’t my fucking responsibility. I was there to have fun and see a few bands. It is NEVER someone’s responsibility or obligation to release information about themselves to you—whether it’s their name, their age, or their email address for your painfully unnecessary mailing list. Just like it is NEVER someone’s responsibility or obligation to stroke your ego when you’re being a total piece of shit. Got it?
Bill and Ted said it best, I guess: “Be excellent to teach other.” You should know common decency and boundaries, and your music should speak for itself. I hope this has made sense and resonated with you, because it’s important. You wanna save your scene? Start by not being a turd.
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