Boston punk zombie

As someone who books shows at my house in Boston, I’m usually pretty skeptical about who I’ll message my address to via Facebook and Gmail. Like other house show organizers would agree, there’s a perpetual understanding that any rando emailing you for the show address could always potentially be a cop. Yesterday, Boston music writer Luke O’Neil published a piece on Slate actually confirming recent instances where Boston cops have posed as punks on Facebook and Gmail. O’Neil writes:

“Almost everyone in the DIY scene has had an experience with phony police emails, direct messages on Twitter, and interactions on social media. For some it’s become just another part of the promotion business—a game of spot-the-narc in which the loser gets his show shut down. According to one local musician who asked not to be named, the day before a show this past weekend, police showed up at a house in the Allston neighborhood, home of many of these house shows, claiming that they already knew the bands scheduled to play. The cops told the residents of the house that they found out about the show through email, and they bragged about their phony Facebook accounts.

O’Neil confirmed two of these accounts: one is a Gmail user named “Joe Sly,” who was actually a cop searching for addresses of shows to bust. “What’s the address for Saturday Night, love DIY concerts,” the cop wrote in an email, using a “BOSTON PUNK ZOMBIE” avatar with a green mohawk. The other was a Facebook user named Donna Giordano, a fake profile for a college student whose profile has a picture of a mosh pit with the caption, “I love the pit!”

I looked back in my inboxes yesterday and of course, I found messages from both, on the day before a Waxahatchee show that was booked at my house. “Is the show tonight still on?” read the email from “Joe Sly.” We actually ended up canceling the show at my house because we had been robbed that morning. We booked a last-minute bar show, and a set on Harvard’s college radio station, Record Hospital, instead.

It’s creepy as hell, but actually not that surprising. Police have been exerting a lot of energy on shutting down house show venues rapidly over the past few months; see this article I wrote for the Boston Phoenix on “Why Boston Needs House Shows” in November for some context. Running a DIY show space isn’t easy anywhere, and dealing with cops and other insane shit like this is just part of the process. These cases are really, really absurd though. Yo Joe Sly, Donna Giordano, if you’re reading this: maybe you and all of the other cops should think about spending more time and resources on preventing all the house break-ins in our neighborhood lately (and other actual crimes?) instead of just busting house shows. THX.

Comments (12)
  1. Ok so this may be a silly question, but is there actually anything illegal about hosting house shows?

  2. Your tax dollars at work.

  3. The point is, they crack down on house parties, and noise complaints decline. Then groups with more votes who are more vocal and hold more lobbying power than you stop complaining, city hall puts less pressure on the police department, and it’s more likely that incumbent officials like the police commissioner and mayor are re-elected. In general.

    I mean, c’mon, Liz. Haven’t you seen the wire?

    Wanna make an omelette? Gotta crack some eggs. You’re collateral damage, Liz. A casualty of their fuckin’ war.

  4. That is quite ridiculous. You’d think they’d have better things to do. Did Craigslist run out of hookers?

  5. This kind of feels like you bragging about having shows at your house…
    Sorry. I’m a bastard when there’s no downvoting.

    • Lol, exactly. That’s what it feels like, and we gotta get harsher now that noone can downvote us, yet we’re still forced to look at these dumb fuckin ads on the sidelines that end up takin up the whole page often.

      Hate braggy bloggers. C-Lobe could easily drift into that territory, L-Pel is already wading in it. And as much as he brought some good ish to the site, Corbahn was a huge offender. At least the only thing Tom brags about is how much weed he’s smoked with rappers.

      Majority of this article and its tone have no place on this site. But it brought Michael_ back so FTWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Michael_  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2013 0

    So you can have your account deleted by the man up top, but it still logs in just fine it turns out. Makes sense. Any who, I only feel the need to write something here because it’s a situation I am familiar with and have my own alternative perspective to share…

    This has been a topic of conversation on my social media feeds for the past week, and as a former Bostonian years removed from living in the area, I’m a little surprised that it’s become such a hot button talking point just now considering this was going on in the same fashion (police lurking on music message boards and using fake facebook accounts to find house shows out) back in 2007. The major question I pose to those who this impacts is, “What have you been doing since to try to resolve the problem, other than being more careful in who you disclose details to and hoping to be left alone?”

    A few of you have summed up what a house show is, and it’s basically the equivalent of a house party with a band playing, albeit probably more organized. Yet, they impinge upon noise ordinances, fire codes and permits to act as a venue for live music, and no matter how you spin it in the name of art and DIY, the fact is that you are breaking the law. If you’ve ever been a teenager, you know that any party worth going to ended up with some neighbor making a complaint about too many people heading into one spot and how the noise level was bothering them. At what point do you look in the mirror and say, “This isn’t working. We need to do something that works for us without bringing the police to our door.”

    The authorities’ actions are indeed petty and comical, but I have to imagine that it’s just so easy to phish for info from a laptop without having to leave HQ, and make the easy bust as show time approaches. Keep in mind that while the violations are small and against relatively harmless people, a bust is a bust. Police have ticket quotas to meet from my understanding, and when their higher ups look at how they’ve asserted their authority, this is no different really than the cops who sit on the stretch of the highway during my drive home from work like clockwork at the end of each month, pulling over five cars at a time for going 65 in a 60 mph zone. You could probably get away with going 65 a week earlier, but if Officer Zombie Punk is running low on tossing out violations, he’s going to go for the easy score, and that’s what house shows sound like to Boston cops.

    I’m too old to be attending house shows, but the articles I have read come from members of the music community well past their college years. I attended enough basement and house shows during my high school and college years to say I know what they’re about, but I guess I am curious to know why anyone beyond the age of 21 would put themselves in a position to possibly be fined or arrested, assuming you care about your criminal record and how it might impact things such as your professional reputation years down the road. Maybe I take for granted that I’ve always been far more reasonable and responsible in this regard. (Sorry to all the DIY punk bands I write about if I sound like a square you’d never want at your show right now. Ergo, this is my admission to being a square, but then again, I do respect culture of it, but would rather see consensus met between house show throwers rather than find out Liz Pelly wound up in the clink for holing up Merchandise at her apartment. That would suck.)

    Above all, Boston has an obvious history of anti-punk measures. Just last year, they banned moshing at proper venues and the last time I was in the city for a show (last summer, Gaslight Anthem at the Middle East,) four people got thrown out for not adhering to it. Even frontman Brian Fallon stopped songs mid-way through upon spotting stage divers who he was none to happy with.

    So again, the question I pose to Boston’s music community is what have you been doing since I left to remedy this problem within the DIY music community? It differs based on location, but I have a neighbor who has a full blown polka rager each summer. Both sides of the street as well as lawns are covered with cars, chairs and crowds, and you can hear the music being played a half mile away. Yet, the police never bother them because they get a permit beforehand to hold the event at their house and clear the event with neighbors. On the other hand, Thurston Moore’s Chelsea Light Moving basement show in Northampton almost got canned by the cops, because of noise complaints by neighbors. Obviously, no one is above the law, even if you aren’t doing something dastardly. Can something as simple as a temporary permit system be instituted, however? Maybe it’s time to put those organization skills to greater use.

    And I get it. There are tons of great bands in and around Boston who benefit from house shows, whether it be making slightly more off a house show’s small door charge than they would by playing an actual club, not having to deal with douchey bouncers or simply the community aspect of it. In the time I have left Boston, however, the number of venues has grown immensely, and I do see many of the DIY-ish bands getting booked at spaces as large as those handled by Bowery Boston opening for national acts, or venues such as the Democracy Center being near-equivalents to a fully independent environment. The other side of the state barely gets any decent shows these days because of this, and it’s hard for me to be too sympathetic to a scene that has all but put the nail in the coffin to its sister side of the state.

    You can hold your punk grudge all you want, but I don’t think mocking authorities is the solution. I’m not saying throw in the towel, but something hasn’t been working here for quite some time, and there has to be a fix. You have to give a little to get a little in return sometimes.

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