You often hear people talk of how music has helped them through dark times, rather than into them. But, since 2017 and the rise of the #MeToo movement, many artists have been exposed for sexual harassment. The intimate connection between band and fan, especially in the emo and pop punk scene, can lead to murky waters due to an emotional dependency. After all, why wouldn’t you trust them, they ‘saved your life’. Bands such as Brand New, Pinegrove and Moose Blood have all been under fire since 2017. Reading of how the alleged victim of Brand New’s Jesse Lacey’s felt ‘flattered that the singer from your favourite bands is interested in you’ sounds like every fan’s dream; however, she was 15 and he was 24. The false sense of trust and self-worth eclipsed Lacey’s intent. The case of Pinegrove offers us another instance of emotional manipulation. The band’s iconic raw vocals earnt themselves a cult-like fan base in the mid-2010s, with their progressive exploration of male emotions. Frontman Evan Hall’s perceived vulnerability became the foundations for a ‘deeply intense’ relationship with a fan, consisting of verbal manipulation and pressure.
It is the ‘apologies’ – or lack of – that really strike a chord with the #MeToo movement. Lacey offers a blanket apology if he ‘hurt people, mistreated them, lied and cheated’ but does not address specific accusations. Moose Blood still maintain they are the victims of a ‘traumatic year’ of false accusations; yes, they removed drummer Glenn Harvey in 2017, but are still refusing to address the concerns over lead sing Eddy Brewerton, instead choosing to ‘take a step back from music’. The avoidance of the accusations suggests a band that will not take responsibility for their actions, and seem to just be waiting for it all to blow over, which is unlikely given Moose Blood’s Facebook page is laden with angry fans demanding an acknowledgment. These apologies are not good enough; band members must be held accountable for their treatment of fans, especially when the fanbase is largely of a die-hard teenage variety. Musicians must recognise how the vulnerability of fans and their own idolised status can be manipulated and they should take action to prevent it.
Thankfully, other bands are. Good Charlotte dropped Moose Blood from their tour, and Kevin Devine and Martha refused to support Brand New following the accusations. We are seeing genuine repercussions for musicians who commit these unjustifiable actions against fans who trust them, stripping them from the platform on which they operate. Of course, it will not totally eliminate a band’s fanbase, but it demonstrates the fact that sexual harassment and emotional manipulation will not be tolerated in the industry. Musicians and fans alike must work together to expose the darker side of the scene, and create a safe environment for people to enjoy.