Entire band quit over “lack of dignity” after mainman Ben attacks audience member following beer-throwing incident at bad-tempered SXSW show
Four members of punk band Screeching Weasel have left the band after frontman Ben Foster attacked an audience member at a bad-tempered show in Texas last week.
Video footage showed Foster, stage name Ben Weasel, losing control in an already tense environment after a woman threw beer at him, followed later by an ice cube. He tried to jump into the crowd to attack her, but was pushed back by security staff before being manhandled by the venue promoter. As a crowd of house crew surrounded him on stage, he waved at the audience and the band left the stage.
Voices have been raised against Foster’s actions at the important South by South West festival in Austin, despite his quick apology. He said: “Whatever my feelings are about fans crossing the line like that, I wish I could have that moment back and deal with it in the same spirit as I did the preceding 60 minutes. Since I can’t, an apology is all I’ve got and I sincerely hope those people will accept it.”
But several bands lined up to play Weasel Fest, an event arranged by Foster on May 29, announced they wouldn’t appear. Now Screeching Weasel bandmates Dan Schafer, Adam Cargin, Justin Perkins and Drew Fredichsen have said they don’t see a future with the singer.
In a statement they say: “The uncalculated act put forth by Ben Foster leading up to and including the violence is seen by the band as shameful and embarrassing. The band has come to the conclusion that we will not be able to muster the dignity to attempt a live performance as Screeching Weasel in the foreseeable future. We all feel deflated following the public spectacle and would be doing the music an injustice if we were to force a performance.
“We are positive that Ben regrets his actions and have no doubt that his apology is sincere. We don’t wish to place any more hardship upon him with our decision, but it is something that cannot be avoided.
“As musicians we feel it’s imperative that the music does the talking. We don’t care to get involved in trying to place blame, other than to say we don’t condone or support any of it.”
The members continue that if Foster chooses to replace them they support his right to do so, although they hope the “wounds can heal” in the future.
Meanwhile, a former bandmate has rushed to Foster’s defence. Jenny Choi, who played with him for a short time, says in her blog: “Ben isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong, and he’s extremely honest. If you’re playing a shit show at a shit festival for shit money, to have an audience member have permission to spit beer in his face – I say permission, because this person was not kicked out immediately – and follow it up with chucking an ice cube at his eye, I do understand why he did what he did.
“I don’t agree with his response, but Ben is not Gandhi or the President of the United States. He’s Ben Weasel.
“I am most horrified by the venue owner and her actions. I’m hoping we can take this opportunity to encourage a constructive and balanced discussion around creating safe spaces between the audience and artists, and how venues and industry people need to ensure that these explosive situations do not happen.”