Megaweapon is an indie art punk band, for the lack of a better identifier. Their music kicks with the punk spirit, introducing ambiance at times with synths and dueling vocals. This is all heard on their latest EP, Behind Glass Walls. Megaweapon are not scared to tell it how it is with fiery lyrics on “Strictly 80s Joel.” It is a track that sees through the bullshit of people, ringing out with gnashing chord progressions that dance to a snappy groove. Then there is “The United Shakes Of America,” which plays like an anxious love song, finding Megaweapon capturing the feelings perfectly. With such an awareness of their music on Behind Glass Walls, the band offered ways to feel safe at a show and/or the local music scene in general.
“Anyone who has been to a local show knows that the security is often pretty minimal and 9/10 times the venue has alcohol. Alcohol plus darkness plus people pushing against each other isn’t exactly a recipe for feelings of comfort and safety. As someone who has studied child psychology and worked in the childcare field for many years as a nanny, I’ve learned a lot about helping others be safe and feel safe. As a band, it has always been our most forward goal that people can forget their troubles and have fun with us. While we are in no way blaming victims for what happens to them at shows, we aim to create awareness for safety at our shows for all attendees – especially those with mental illnesses, disabilities, women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. Here are some of my top tips for being safe and having a good time.”
1) Never Take Advantage of Feeling Safe
Here you are at the local bar where you attend shows more than once a month. Is that you? It starts to feel like your home the more often you are there, and you start to let your guard down. Don’t.
Each show you attend has different people in the audience – some of these people are not going to like you for a slew of reasons; from the way you’re dressed to the color of your skin or holding your boyfriend’s hand. They are going to try to make you feel uncomfortable because they feel uncomfortable for your existence. Don’t. You have every right to be there and exist as yourself.
If someone starts acting in a way that is openly aggressive or even microaggressive, try putting out a vibe of friendliness if you can. For some people this might not work, especially if you’re a woman and the person acting aggressively toward you believes you’re flirting. If they don’t recognize the humanity in your friendliness, move as far away from them as possible. In a big enough venue, move closer to a security guard or towards the band into the light if possible.
2) Use the Buddy System
Remember during field trips when everyone had someone they had to pair off with so no one got left behind or lost? According to the books The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker, an expert on predicting violence, predators who are out to victimize others (molesters, rapists, and racists) are more likely to attack someone who is alone and seems unlikely speak up for themselves. Not only are you going to have more fun if you bring several friends, you also have a support team. If you have friends with you, stay together as best you can. If you have friends with you and you see a girl, a differently abled, trans, or person of color alone, go out of your way to say hello to them so they don’t feel alone.
Don’t have a friend that can come with you? Have a buddy to text – someone who knows where you are by address, when you get there, and when you leave. When you walk to the car, train, or bus, call them.
3) Actively Seek Out Bands Whose Views Lineup with Yours!
For every band full of white straight men playing music, there are bands with people who are gay, trans, differently abled, and people of color who are not being supported within different scenes for a slew of reasons; mostly because you haven’t heard of them yet. Since they’re not going to find you, you have to find them. A good place to find them? Twitter and Instagram!
I never heard of PWR BTTM before I entered the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I saw Ben on the panel of judges and from that band I’ve learned and heard of so many more bands that foster a safe environment. PWR BTTM specifically makes sure that every venue they play has gender-neutral bathrooms (also asking fans not to mosh or get rowdy for the safety of others). Speedy Ortiz has a hotline you can call if someone is harassing you or you are feeling unsafe at their shows.
4) Attending, Promoting, and Performing at Charity and Benefits
This one pretty much goes with the last one about finding people with similar views, but if you want to reach out and let people know you care about them and want them to feel safe at your shows working towards a goal together is one way to make that happen! With Megaweapon. I have played benefits for the American Suicide Prevention Foundation, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. We had a fundraiser to support the families of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting with our friends in Bad Mary to try to do our part to help a community we both love.
Attending these events, you will find bands that care about the same things you do. It’s also punk as heck to put these events together because you want to stick it to the people who are putting down others for being different. When you take a strong stand on something you believe in, you will find other people who believe in it strongly and it’s very important to create a community that way. For Megaweapon. creating a community of love and safety is so very important to us.
5) Supporting DIY Venues
Some of the best places to attend shows are the places that you’re not expecting shows to happen – in someone’s garage, basement, backyard, a library, parking lot, record store. These places are going to be less focused on how much money pulls through at the bar and more concerned about you having a good time. Be careful, however. At some house shows people bring alcohol and will get too drunk to enjoy music. Where we live on Long Island, house shows don’t seem to last – our houses are just so close to each other that it doesn’t really get a chance to work and the police break up almost all of the shows. However, shows are thrown in the bowling alley, libraries, coffeehouses, and in record stores.
One of our favorite shows as a band was at the Prattsville Art Center, whose foray into DIY shows is still a new one but punk as ever. The show itself was a sober one, but they fed us (homemade bread even!) and had coffee. We didn’t play in front of that many people but the people who came danced and talked to us. We have been in touch with the people at that show often since then too! The people who worked there truly loved what they were doing and were patrons of the arts. The Director of the Center said something very inspiring too; that rock and roll had gotten us through Vietnam, through the 80s, and it will too get us through the injustices of today.
What she said is so true. We need to stick together so that people see the love of our community to support music and the arts growing.