Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Stasiu's Issues Apology For Homophobic Altercation At Jan 25th Baby Guts Show

Baby Guts

Download: Baby Guts - "Staplegun"
Download: A Paper Cup Band - "Better When You're Blue"
Download: Coyotes - "Airplanes"

As a performer, playing in an comfortable and receptive environment is an ideal desire seldom achieved, especially for those groups who are just beginning their musical careers. Audiences can be be unreceptive at times. But at the very least, an unstirred atmosphere can still be a respectful one, where indifference can be expressed by polite applause, shoulder shrugs or simply using the bathroom or ordering a drink at the bar. But what happens when that environment is turned hostile due to the actions of one person?

According to a bulletin sent around by Guilt Ridden Pop head Keith Moran, a Baby Guts/A Paper Cup Band/Coyotes show at Stasiu's on January 25th was cut short due to a series of altercations--one of which described as homophobic in nature.

On Friday the 25th, one of the opening acts, Coyotes, was allegedly heckled with a homophobic slur by a very large gentlemen. When the offender was confronted by the show's soundman, the heckler apparently responded with spitting and shoving. According to Moran, when Baby Guts, the headliner, requested that the heckler be removed, the venue employees refused to do so, claiming that the offender was a friend of the owner, Brad Schutte.

Here now is the message which was posted by Keith Moran, proprietor of Guilt Ridden Pop:

This message should not be viewed as an attempt to fuck over Christy or Charles.

Both are stand up people that I have known for years.

They both deserve a venue better than Stasiu's.

That said I feel it very necessary to inform bands that are booked at the venue, bands considering playing the venue and any person that might consider visiting the venue of what happened Friday night at the Baby Guts show.

Tonight was the first time I have ever advised a band not play a show and leave the venue over an issue that has happened in the venue.

Coyotes (a solo act) was performing on stage when a very large individual came up to the stage and screamed to play some rock and roll music. The performer was then called a faggot. The individual then struck the performer's guitar.

The individual then went behind the bar and hi-fived several employees and friends.

The soundman approached the individual and was promptly shoved and spit on.

Baby Guts and myself requested the individual to removed immediately. This request was denied. The person who identified himself as the owner indicated this person was a friend of his and he was not going to be removed. The person that identified himself as the owner explained as an excuse that this was “northeast” and things are different.

With my encouragement I advised both Baby Guts and A Paper Cut Band to not perform and leave Stasiu's as quickly as possible. Both bands were in agreement.

When contacted about the incident by MFR, all three groups who were at Stasiu's on the 25th confirmed Moran's versions of events. Baby Guts in particular felt the band "had a certain moral responsibility to not play the show" after the heckling had occurred. Singer Laura Larson said that the band "thought it was a completely unprofessional for the owner to excuse this behavior...(Stasiu's owner Brad Schutte) showed us no respect and refused to kick out his 'buddy.' If the situation would have been dealt with instead of ignored, we would have stayed."

As word spread about the alleged altercation, the night's events were passionately discussed on How Was The Show forums, as well as on the Modern Radio Message Board. Castle Greyskull, a house/venue which hosts underground shows in Minneapolis, sent out a MySpace Bulletin urging a boycott of Stasiu's while reprinting Moran's original statement. With pressure mounting and curiosity piqued, it was on the Modern Radio board that Christy Hunt, who plays in the band Ouija Radio and books shows at Stasiu's, issued a brief statement about the incident:

There is a lot more to this story than has been told. It is more complex than any one could think. Yes, it is indeed true that the owner gave this acquaintance a free pass. He was trying to deal with it in a way that he actually thought would be safer than fueling the fire. It wasn't a decision he enjoyed. The owner didn't know that the end result would end in such turmoil over something he thought he could fix personally. Not that any action was right but I can speak on the behalf of the owner and let everyone know this is an isolated incident and in know way would it be handled the same way twice or allowed to happen again. The owner is not homophobic and doesn't condone these kinds of incidents. He has been one of the nicest people I have worked for.

But Andrew Jansen from A Paper Cup Band wasn't necessarily happy with that explanation because, at the time the statement was issued, "There (was)...no apology in writing to Coyotes." Jansen reasons that "There will still be music. I just don't need to play there…the owner wasn't 'man' enough to tell his drunk friend or as they say 'acquaintance' to leave the bar. His 'friend' acted like he owned the place. And that night he did. It was a bad decision by the owner."

Similarly, Miller from Coyotes was skeptical of the original statement, though he maintained some perspective by saying that "I took the incident as it pertained to me to be the actions of a roving idiot and was not really fazed by them as I have had much worse experiences while busking." But, as with all concessional statements, there was a qualifier attached. "Having said that...I believe his actions on the night of the incident to be more of a honest scope regarding his principles. Actions speak louder than words."

By contrast, when asked to elaborate upon her initial statement on the behalf of Stasiu's, Hunt remarked that "Brad is a nice man and I personally don't feel that he was encouraging any harm done that night."

Then, on Jan 31st, Hunt released a more formal, full-length apology and explanation regarding the events of the 25th on the Modern Radio Message board in which she emphatically denies any homophobia on the part of the Stasiu's staff.

"First, I must make it clear that no one in my side of the organization is homophobic. The incident that occurred on Friday has been labeled as a matter of homophobia. Although I wasn't there to witness the matter, I have been informed of what occurred and I will do everything in my ability to stop anything like this from happening again. I will continue to support all cultures and interests in every way possible. This and all prejudice (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc) are ugly and stifle human progression. I do not approve in any of this in any way and I am saddened that it would happen where I am trying to create just the opposite."

Hunt then explained that the actions of Brad Schutte and Stasiu's by saying that the individual was allowed to stay in the bar because "(Brad) felt that he could calm the individual down in a jovial way and cause fewer problems than if the individual was personally escorted from the bar...I do not agree with this decision and have taken the matter to the appropriate people for correction. I submitted a letter of intent to the owner of Stasiu's explaining that I need to have full support from the bar and management to keep incidents like this from occurring or I will have to relocate all shows. They agreed to support."

Furthermore, Hunt quoted the soundman, Mike Selle, who was spat on by the heckler, as as saying "I was pushed but I never felt that I was in any danger...At the most it was 15 minutes of crap compared to how many hours of good shows and good times we've had there. I have no problems with Brad or anyone who works at Stasiu's. They've always treated me well."

Hunt concludes her statement by remarking that "I am amazed by how many people really want to see good things happen out of this..I do not know how long I will be booking shows here but for now I will honor all the great shows I have scheduled and may they be as exciting, if not more, than the ones I have had in the past."

When asked about the statement, Miller said that "It seems appropriate. Christy wrote me an e-mail...in which she apologized (and) I felt it was genuine." On the other hand, Jansen simultaneously put the incident into perspective while maintaining his skepticism about Stasiu's intentions: "I figure I am not going to play there again" Jansen stated. "But I think that the whole ordeal has gone on too long...this wouldn't have gotten to the point it's at if the owner would have apologized and explained his actions personally..."

Moran, however, is more forgiving. On the Modern Radio message board, Moran wrote that "I fully trust that Christy has resolved this with the owner so that nothing like this happens again."

It would seem that all involved is eager to move on as well. Schutte was unavailable for comment when contacted by MFR and all of the shows which were scheduled at Stasiu's are still going forward. So for now, only time will tell whether or not Hunt and Stasiu's promise will hold up.

Baby Guts MySpace Page
Coyotes MySpace Page
A Paper Cup Band MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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