UPDATE: shows at both Harmony Bar and Grill in Madison, WI and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, CO have now been cancelled. That means Michelle Shocked’s entire U.S. tour has evaporated within two days of her bigoted anti-gay rant. The list of venues and contact information below has been updated to reflect this latest development.
On Sunday, folk singer and onetime Lilith Fair regular Michelle Shocked stunned a San Francisco audience with a vicious anti-gay tirade.
From the Bay Area Reporter:
…things started to fall apart for the singer during her second set, which she said was “all about reality.” She immediately began a rant that left the audience stunned. She said she was tired of Christians hiding behind the cross.
“When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back,” she said.
Loud gasps were heard from the audience. Many fans walked out.
“I believe the Bible is the word of God,” Shocked continued. More audience gasps were heard. More fans exited and some shouted pro-gay sentiments including “Gays deserve to marry,” “That is a rotten and horrible thing to say,” “Jesus loves people,” and “Don’t bash people for who they are…”
Shocked then reportedly said “You can go on Twitter and say, ‘Michelle Shocked says God hates fags.”
That comment produced more gasps and more departures. Two-thirds of the audience had walked out by this point. Some left the club; others retreated to the club’s bar.
It was then that the show ended.
A Yoshi’s manager announced, “Thank you for coming ladies and gentlemen. This show is over.”
“It’s not over,” Shocked protested and she continued to sing. Management cut off her microphone and shut off the stage lights. Shocked continued to sing for her few remaining fans.
The Twittersphere did react to Shocked’s disgusting comments, and an uproar ensued. The Chicago Tribune reported that the management at SPACE, a venue in Evanston, contacted the San Francisco promoter to verify the story:
SPACE general manager/talent buyer Jake Samuels, who had booked Shocked previously without incident, said he confirmed with the San Francisco promoter that Shocked’s comments were “ugly in nature and not meant to be artistic or satirical in any way … It wasn’t a very hard decision for us.”
After reading that article, I decided to create a petition on Change.org, an online social change platform, to encourage other venues to follow SPACE’s example and cancel Shocked’s upcoming tour dates. (Please sign and share it if you haven’t already!)
And cancel they did. According to a schedule posted on Shocked’s website, the singer started the day yesterday with 11 confirmed concerts from Santa Monica to Madison. This morning, only two scheduled dates remain. (The shows after June are listed as “tentative” on Shocked’s site.) I spoke with one promoter last night who cancelled a show, and he confirmed that it was the deluge of emails he received from the Change.org petition that convinced him and others to show Shocked the door.
Needless to say, I’m proud that the pressure we’re all applying is making a difference. That promoter also reminded me, though, that the venues who are cancelling are taking a huge hit in terms of lost revenue, contracts, etc.; losses for unforeseen events like this can run into the thousands of dollars.
Consequently I’ve decided to include a list of the names, websites, cancellation statements, and social media profiles of all the venues who’ve canned Michelle Shocked. I hope you’ll join me in liking them on Facebook and thanking them for doing the right thing and standing up to anti-gay hate speech despite the substantial costs. And if you live in or traveling near any of them, consider paying a visit and expressing your appreciation in the form of dollars and cents!
- McCabe’s Guitar Shop (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) in Santa Monica, CA cancelled Shocked’s March 23 concert.
- Moe’s Alley (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) in Santa Cruz, CA cancelled a March 28 show.
- HopMonk Tavern (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) in Novato, CA put the kibosh on a Shocked show on March 29.
- Palms Playhouse (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) in Winters, CA nixed Shocked’s April 24 performance.
- Portland, OR’s Alberta Rose Theatre (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) cancelled a Shocked show on April 25.
- Meander’s Kitchen in Seattle (Facebook) deep-sixed Michelle Shocked’s April 26 performance.
- Cozmic in Eugene, OR (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) axed Shocked’s April 27 date.
- eTown Hall in Boulder, CO (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) cancelled Shocked’s May 3 performance.
- SPACE in Evanston, IL (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) called off Michelle’s concert on May 5.
- UPDATE: The Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, CO (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) has removed Shocked’s June 23 concert from their website and replaced her with the Drepung Monks.
- UPDATE: The Triskel Arts Center (Facebook, Twitter, schedule) in Cork, Ireland — one of the European stops on Shocked’s tour and a target of our petition — tweeted today that Michelle’s October 13 show “is no longer going ahead.”
- And Yoshi’s in San Francisco (Facebook, Twitter, schedule), where Shocked delivered her bigoted tirade, told the San Francisco Bay Guardian that she won’t ever be playing there again.
Please thank and generously patronize these pro-equality venues!
NOTE: Madison, WI’s Harmony Bar and Grill is no longer hosting Michelle Shocked on May 4, but a venue representative confirmed to me in a telephone conversation today (and later to Pollstar) that Shocked’s management, not Harmony Bar and Grill themselves, made the decision. In light of that information, I would recommend against calling to thank them (they have no email address or social media presence), as the decision was made for them.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to the folks at Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland. According to their Facebook page, they’re organizing a special benefit concert for Basic Rights Oregon (the statewide LGBT equality organization) on the night Michelle Shocked was scheduled to play.
But we still have work to do. Several European venues have not yet cancelled Michelle Shocked’s scheduled appearances. Please sign and share the petition so we can make this a clean sweep for equality!
Folks, I’m a professional vocal musician, so I’m all about freedom of speech and artistic expression. I know how critically important they are. But Michelle Shocked’s appalling anti-gay screed isn’t about free speech, it’s hate speech. And in a world where LGBT people are bullied from the pulpit, on the playground, and at the polls, anti-gay hate speech can have serious consequences including legitimizing bullying and hate crimes, and increasing victims’ risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Let’s send a strong message to Michelle Shocked and other anti-gay artists that hate speech has no place on the concert stage.