Tour Promoter Responds To Accusations in KING And The Contortionist Show
The Gauntlet received exclusive information from Ed, the promoter the now infamous show in Lansing, MI two weeks ago. The show ended in violence with Jeff Loomis and The Contortionist not preforming and many in attendance blaming KING for the fight.
Check out Ed's statement below:
It is very important to me that I get into full detail about many things, in order to not only justify the situation from this past Tuesday at the show, but also to concrete this as a non-biased opinion. There are many minor details that lead up to this incident that must be said, in order to justify a lot of what is being mislead to the public, when it comes to everyone involved and then some. I will do my best to recollect and justify anything about and leading up to the events that occurred the night of Tuesday, July 17th at The Blackened Moon in Lansing, MI.
Let me start with a little of my history. I come from the Nu Metal era. From the time when Slipknot and Marilyn Manson were held highest and shock value and theatrics was a must, in order to gain attention. "Push Moshing" was the expression given during their performances and up until Hatebreed came into the mainstream, I had never seen a real hardcore pit or even hardcore dancer, let alone "hate moshing".
I came from a band in my teenage years that literally had a live "bitch" that we used specifically for torturing, lighting on fire, force-feeding of bugs and just plain throwing down with the band. Literally a hype man who people came to see "what would happen next". People in my town thrived off things like this for years and Ozzfest was home to me and my friends. Soon that started to fade and the movement came. The movement, I refer to as, the "Core" movement. For the longest time, I hated hardcore dancing and "hate moshing". In fact, I used to be that metal kid who would purposely go to the pits like that to try and hurt those people, when it first became mainstream. We hated it.
In time, I learned to appreciate the real aspects of hardcore and dancing and embraced it, just like I do moshing and "circle pits". It was one day when I tried to dance for the first time and someone clipped me from behind. I learned then how serious it was to hit someone in mid air with no balance like that, and exactly why hardcore kids get angry when people do it. So I learned to appreciate the real aspects of it all, especially with a little research on some key bands. Even though I wasn't a huge fan of most Hardcore bands at the time, I could appreciate the reality behind it all and how true it really was. It reminded me of all my crazy friends, except we used to wear face paint and whip each other with bull whips and set shit on fire. But if someone messed with us, it was dealt with in the same aspect as a Hardcore crowd would. Same exact way.
The current state of this type of show is well known. Times have changed so much and kids have seen this so many times, that they know how to avoid the confrontation a crowd like this can cause. Some just simply refuse to do that, or try to oppose it, which can make matters entirely worse. It is important to understand that there is no difference in the crowd that King 810 brings, compared to likes of Terror, The Acacia Strain, Hatebreed, Agnostic Front and so on. The same type of show with the same type of results when you try to stop it. The thing is, King 810 and their internal history and stories, rank them into another realm for some reason, when it comes to this charade of antics and respect.
Up until this particular day, I had been a part of three different shows that King was on at The Blackened Moon, one of which was not mine. My band was just invited down for a friends birthday show and this is where I first found King. The show was also my first introduction the The Blackened Moon. What I witnessed was very entertaining to watch. The band had a very old school Korn/Slipknot style mixed with the Hardcore aspect of Emmure or Hatebreed. The crowd knew all the lyrics and sang with the singer like it was some sort of cult. People danced, hate moshed, gang vocal, etc. That day, there was no harm or anything. They even had their stage prop (a man in a screened cage who breathes fire while they play, alongside the drummer). The second and third time I hosted them there myself, we had a few minor injuries, no different than any other hardcore show would have but aside of that, a solid performance and respect from both sides of the fence. Each time, after King was done, the owners of the Blackened Moon we seen hugging and talking with each other, as if they had mutual respect, being The Blackened Moon would even host the known, "banned" band.
I would also like to note that at the end of June, King went on a road trip in support of their recently released EP and I hosted 3 dates in 3 different states for them. One was at The Blackened Moon and the others were in Indiana and Illinois. All three shows went fine and even though we had the same usual minor injuries as we do at any hardcore show, everyone was like family and King made tons of new fans and friends. Before I go any further, I must say that I cannot deny that I am a fan of King. I will also say that I am a huge fan of The Contortionist as well, so note that there is no taking sides here and I will definitely be noting the tour aspect of things here soon.
I do not necessarily agree 100% with the way that the crowds are at Hardcore shows. They are very violent and definitely create a more likely atmosphere for someone to get hurt. But they express themselves together that way, just as we metal heads do in our mosh pits, wall of deaths and circles. So as a promoter, I cannot be biased on the crowds and what they choose to do. Here lies the problem. The Blackened Moon is a predominantly Death Metal venue that occasionally hosts Hardcore shows. The people that go there on a regular basis, hate hardcore dancing and are only concerned with the metal side of things. On this particular day, there just happened to be too many of each, under a roof that simply does not get that type of draw for their shows.
Moving on to Tuesday, July 17th...
Let's start by setting the mood of The Blackened Moon and what we walked into when we arrived at Noon. For any person who has ever stepped foot into this place, you will know right away a few key things. The first thing is that it is not some high class venue. As a matter of fact, it separates itself from even the lower class venues because the overall mood inside the place is just plain grim. I totally love the feel of the place but if you do not like death, demons, skulls, pentagrams, horror movies, gore porn or death metal...this place will scare the living shit out of you. Being the tour package was all metal as can be, we had no issue putting the show there. Second thing to picture is the humidity. The air conditioning being out on a hot day and made the place even more of a darker presence and miserable place to be in certain portions of the building. Huge fans kept the kids cool here and there along with water and beer for those of age. Third is that the staff and people that run the place are all true grit metal freaks. No doubt about that. Not one of them is into hardcore. Remember, I love metal so I fell in love with this place and the people there. No hating on them, other than the fact that I was a promoter trying out different genres and unless it was metal as can be, there was always some sort of unspoken frown upon it, but never a huge issue.
By the time King was about to arrive, we had gone through a good portion of the show where many "core" based bands had played, including the amazing Fit For An Autopsy. People danced and did their thing and I even saw a few people take some dives into those just standing and observing the band. Everything was fine. Now The Blackened Moon states that King was supposedly not allowed back (which was never said to me) but when they arrived, not a single person (with both owners attending the show) from the Moon even tried to tell King they were not welcome. In fact, people observed the owners embracing in hugs and handshakes with the band as they arrived and walked into the door.
King was set to play in the back room, which was considerably smaller than the main room. This was done because the only thing the owner requested from us was that King was not put on the stage, due to accidentally breaking it previously. The band came in and began to setup and it was observed by the owners and little staff the Moon had that King was setting up not only their gear, but also their stage prop. Not a single person from the establishment tried to stop them at all, knowing that they were about to use fire during the performance. The main entrance to the show was in the other room, so I was unaware of the box, although I will admit if it was brought to my attention, I would have not seen it as a big deal because they have done it there several times before without a problem. To me it just made their performance more unique. Also note that two giant doors were kept open during the entire show in this room for ventilation, along with over 30+ fans running throughout the building. So with that being said, The Moon was at least trying to keep the place cool and breathable.
I got a second to come and enjoy King's first two songs of their set. I danced a bit and watched them and their crowd do their thing. At that time, everyone was getting along and people were just watching the show. I left the room for a second to go check on the door and when I arrived back, I watched a few of the metal kids try to punch a few of the people dancing (who were very close to the band) and it started a fight. Before the show, the owners nephew had mentioned that he wanted to hit some hardcore dancers and I told him that I was not about that and I would eject him from the show if he did so. Well one of the people doing it was him so when one of the owners walked into the room, he freaked out and legitimately tried to break up the fight. At that point, the fight stopped for a minute and he grabbed his people and got them away from the chaos and left into the room, where I followed.
Knowing the history of shutting down a band with a hardcore mentality, I knew that if the owner went and shut them off, the place would turn into a frenzy and I would have an issue on my hands. At this time, I confronted one of the owners of the place and his friend that was with him and explained what would happen and suggested that the best intentions would be to get their people out of the room and let the band and their fans have their time. I told him that once they were done, they would most likely leave anyway because their following is THAT loyal. His friend explained to me that he left his kid in the room. Right there, I said to myself, what is your kid doing in a place like this anyway? I instructed them again, to go and get their people out of the room, but you could tell the owner had different intentions.
He went into a back room that I could not get into, so ran into the room to observe the show. Seconds later, as I was standing in the back of the room watching the kids dance and the commotion start to come to a head again, I looked to my right and observed the two gentleman that I just had given advice to, coming into the room with an aluminum baseball bat. At this time, a few garbage cans and chairs had been tossed around and people we throwing garbage and stuff like that but up until the owner got the bright idea to bring out a baseball bat, King and their fans had not weapons and no intention of trying to keep fighting. They just wanted to see the rest of their bands' set.
Before I had the chance to even get to the owner that was holding the bat (and yes I tried to get there), he simply cocked it back and started swinging on the kids that were starting to scrap again. Note that this is grown man, easily over 40 years old, hitting people who could easily be in the age group ranging from 16-22. Young people. He even came close to cracking me in the face on a back-swing when I went to step into it and try and stop it. So the band is playing and this guy comes out into the mosh pit and starts beating hardcore kids with a baseball bat, starting an all out war between King and their crew, and the The Blackened Moon people.
The kicker is this. Each show, this place has always provided me with sufficient security at my events. Each event got progressively smaller so it is in my theory that the owner lacked security that night because he expected a repeat and under-estimated the crowd size, and simply did not want to have to pay for extra security guards. Aside of all the tours expenses we have had at our shows there, we also have paid the Moon, even when enough was not made at the door and we had to come out of pocket. We even have a recent pay pal stub proving our catch up on a recent debt, proving reliability with them in doing shows there. It is beyond me why the venue operators chose to solve the issue with a baseball bat rather than hiring more security, or even calling the police.
At this point, things were getting irate. People were scared shitless and those who were fighting were grabbing anything they could get their hands on to defend themselves. There are talks of barbed wired signs and ladders and I saw none of that. I did see people grab chairs and debris that was laying around the venue and/or stashed behind the tarp in the back of the room. Between my partner and I, we can vouch that no one brought in any barbed wire signs or ladders. To think we would even let them bring it in is just insane and being there was only one door to go in and out of, one of the two of us were always there, observing the people going in and out, at all times. There was a reference to lighter fluid, which I can only imagine is related to the fire breather in the box. The venue is all bricks and steel so as stated before, it had been done several times there and was never an issue. Of course, that does not make excuse for the fumes in the building afterwards, but if there was anything that was directly the bands fault, it was ONLY the fire and smell of lighter fluid and NONE of the fire was used a weapon or even came close to the crowd itself. Did the venue have security checking people at the door? No. Most venues do not.
Once everything settled down a bit, the tour manager finally found me and stated that the tour package felt unsafe and that they were not only going to leave but that he had called the police, making it to where there was no need for me to do it. I understood completely where the tour was coming from and even though I tried to get them to stay and still play the show, it was in the best interest of them to start packing up and get away from the chaos. Soon after, several squad cars pulled into the venue lot and blocked each entrance to the place. Nearly everyone from the show, including the tour and King, were blocked in by the police.
This is where things became even more surreal to everyone. In my experience, when something like this happens and 911 is called, explaining an assault with a deadly weapon...the police arrive and if there person is still there, they immediately grab that person and arrest them and start asking questions afterwards. The cops were informed that King was the one who pulled out bats and used weapons and were made out to be the bad guys. Being there was fire, the police had called the fire Marshall in and were waiting for her to arrive while interviewing the tour manager and venue owner. When the time came to talk to police, they seemed very uninteresting in hearing anything I had to say. I expected a huge interrogation and some grief but for some reason, they talked to the venue owners and tour manager and then just kind of stood there for about 20 minutes at the edge of the parking lot, leaving us all wondered what was going on.
I immediately started asking questions and walked up to the police and explained that I was the promoter and needed to know if we were allowed to continue the show and needed to know exactly what was going to happen. The police asked the venue owner where the band supposedly responsible for this was at and he told the police that they were packing up in the back of the building, which they were. A few officers, my partner, the venue owner, some tour mates and a portion of the Blackened Moon people slowly followed the police over to the band while I sat back and gave some information to the police. It is said that the police got around the corner of the gate and observed King putting their gear away and getting ready to leave, without trying to cause any problems. Once it rang with one officer on who exactly the band was, he stopped in his tracks and it is said by several people including some of the venue staff that he muttered..."that is King from Flint, Michigan. We are not trying to get into a gunfight tonight." The officer supposedly turned to the band and asked "will you please finish packing up quickly and leave the premises?" and instructed the rest of the officers to follow him back to the lot. I do not know entirely if this is true but if both my partner and the people of the Moon are stating this, I see no reason why this would be untrue, especially when no one was arrested at all.
After a brief talk with police, I was informed the fire Marshall had arrived and that she was speaking with venue owners. I went and found the touring bands and paid the tour in full, like a promoter should. People are saying that we kept all the money from the show and didn't pay the bands and that is totally false. The tour will vouch that for me. I am in full agreement that the tour had every right to leave the unsafe environment that they we unintentionally put into, and get paid for not playing the show. I even contacted their booking agent via cell phone to advise and get instruction to do so.
King exited the premises and the fire Marshall shut the show down. The tour started packing up and a decent amount of people left, while a hand full stuck around and started in on the rumor mill. We caught the fire Marshall outside for a brief moment to discuss the events with her and she questioned us about the fire, mainly. We told her what the band does with the fire and even though she said it that it should not have been allowed, that it was not the bands fault and merely was the venue owners responsibility, when it comes to fire and fire codes. She said there was not a sufficient sprinkler system in the building and if there was, something like that may have been allowed, pending inspections. She also stated that the owners had made false signs and decided on their own capacity limit of the place. We asked he if any citations had been written, because the owners were already saying we owed them money for tickets that she had written. She stated that not one single citation had been written and that he simply was trying to get us to pay him money because he was angry at the whole situation and some things got broken inside.
At this time, I was enraged, confused, worried and just plain exhausted from everything. I saw so much so the questions everyone else had, I had the answer for...but I had my own set of questions. I already had the obvious one. Everyone in Lansing at this show knows this band and their rep. The singer was the victim in a stabbing/shooting and has also done some time. Hailing from a murder capitol of the US, the band has the reputation that other Hardcore families do, without being hardcore. If all these people in Lansing knew about King and knew the stories and line not to cross, why would you even attempt to try and solve the situation with a weapon? If so many people are coming out of the woodwork to say negative stuff about their music and fans, why were you all watching the show and tolerating it instead of going into the other room and waiting for Chimp Spanner to play? If the Moon supposedly banned King, why did they even let them load in? Why would they try to solve the situation with a bat? Why did they fail to stop the fire if they knew it was about to even happen? Most importantly...why did the police really back down from King?
Was it their reputation for living and breathing the slum life and standing up for their people, doing anything to protect their value and message as a "real" band amongst a race of cookie cutter genres? The knowing of where they are from and what they are capable of doing if someone tries to stop them from expressing their art? Or was it the fact that the city and fire Marshall already frown upon the place as is and had no intention of arresting anyone because they were immediately bombarded by a different story from the owner than what everyone else interrogated had said?
I do not agree with a thing that went down at all. It was just a mess, beyond my control as well as many others. But to sit and blame King for all of this is just nonsense. What occurred can easily put into reverse context and seen in a different way:
If I was a hardcore dancer and did not like moshing, let us say I came to a show with mixed genres. A metal band plays and a mosh pit breaks out and some metal dudes suck me into it when I was merely observing bands I wanted to watch (this has happened to me many times at hundreds of concerts, in mosh pits). So let's say i get angry and punch one of the guys and next thing you know, 3 of them are whipping my ass for standing up for myself, when I got sucked into a mosh pit when I was just watching a band. Who is to blame here?
Surely the initial response is to say that it is a well known fact if you are by a mosh pit, there is a chance you get sucked in. Well when you are by a hardcore pit, there is a chance you will get hit in the face or jumped into. Someone might say, I was right for standing up for myself, but then it goes against the code of ethics in metal, period and I knew already what I was getting close to. Now turn the dial up and say after I got jumped at this show, one of my friends comes into the pit and starts wailing on these dudes with a bat and they not only are considerably younger, but my friend is a full grown man...and the people who jumped me happen to be close friends of the bands. Their crowd is strictly outnumbered because it is a predominantly hardcore turnout and now you got this metal band and their few fans being attacked by a man and all his people with a bat. I think it is fair enough to say that you have the right to do whatever it takes to get those people away from them and get out of there, regardless of opinions at that point.
Now that the scenario is turned around and the metal family at the home that is the Blackened Moon has been put in King's position, would it be okay for them to fight back and get out however possible? Or were they just supposed to sit there and take a beating with a bat and bend down like cowards?
The negativity and rumor mill surrounding this band, automatically sets them up for a bombshell in this position because they not only have a rep, but they were highly outnumbered by people with a difference of opinion and culture. People use the fire as an excuse but no one cried when Slipknot was setting each other on fire in the early stages of their career. No metal fan cried when Manson lit the bible on fire (aside of Christians and religious fiends). King has a fire breather in a box and a rowdy crowd to go along with their unique music that is one in a million right now. And everyone in Lansing knew that and you know what, a lot of those people are just siding with friends and up until that point, loved that band.
My overall take on this is simple. I apologize first to everyone who did not get to see the tour. That was beyond my control and I wish I could do something, but I simply cannot. Second I apologize to the tour and wish them the luck on the rest of it. They had every right to leave. Third, I do not condone violence like this at any of my shows. In fact, I have spoken against it in my hometown for many years in hopes to keep what little halls we have, open. What I do condone is a friendly way of expression and I think people need to recognize what a Hardcore band or crowd brings to the table, just as you all recognize your surroundings and position in a mosh pit during Devildriver or American Head Charge. The bottom line is that the outcome of the show was not King's fault. Their fans may have been the lit fuse to start the storm but the venue and the metal fans who are against that type of expression, are the ones who took it to the next level and ended up still getting the best made of them.
I front a band called Send The Dawn and have for many years and in my area, I have the reputation for being one of the most offensive frontman ever and I have an even better rep of pushing the envelope and making people angry. This has always shocked everyone but still has kept me separate from other singers in my area. Everything from eating the persons lit cigarette in front of me, to tossing water on some girls breasts, to licking the screen of a cell phone being used at the time of my performance...anything I can think of. I feel like the opposite of King, when it comes to what I do for my band. But we would not be who we are if we were not doing those things to be different. And you bet your ass that if my band was playing a show and we were outnumbered and that happened to my friends, I would have been right there, bloody with the rest of them. I am a musician before I am a promoter and I think that is what has separated me from many other promoters in my area. I have an issue with helping out the little guys. Pushing the locals. Hell for the the first 7 of 15 years of doing shows, I never touched the tour and was pro-local music, all the way. I guess my point in telling you all this is to justify what I have seen, what I do, what I have been through and the honesty I can provide to such a catastrophe, without being so one sided.
Many of us were at fault in some way or form but these things can sometimes happen at shows and will be out of the hands of the people who run it. This was not the first show in 15 years that has gotten shut down on us and it will definitely and unfortunately not be the last. that does not mean we do not support safety and try to be safe and do our jobs as promoters. In fact, at home, we hire police as security at all our shows.
If the show would have ended fine, people would praise me. Freak accident occurs and I am the bad guy along with a band who defended themselves.