Boston Police Posing As Punks Online To Bust House Shows: What’s The Point?

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.