Busdriver Encounters Racist Soundman at Harpers Ferry in MA

Racism nowadays tends to articulate itself in racist manifestations, rather than through overt racism. The psychological effects of centuries of racial subjugation and discrimination can't easily be washed away through legislation or by policing oneself to withhold racist thoughts, so it's often the case that racism acts increasingly on a subconscious level and is then expressed in more subtle ways. But with a weak enough education system and a culture that often reinforces rather than defies stereotypes, it's no wonder that an Allston, MA soundman's racist remarks could offend rapper Busdriver to the point of immediately leaving Harpers Ferry, the venue in which he was scheduled to perform on November 13.

Regan Farquhar, a.k.a. Busdriver, told the following story to The Phoenix:

Here’s how it started. I settled into the venue and, yeah, I was tired from driving all day. So the soundman approaches me and asks me what’s on the tech rider — you know, what we’re going to need for cords and microphones. I gave him a lose explanation and then sent him to my tech guy, Matt Alsberg also known as Antimc, who did a [tour diary for TMT earlier this year]. And I went upstairs to have something to eat. My tech guy tells him what we’re going to need and the soundman turns to him and says ‘Good thing there’s a white guy on your crew.’ Or something like that.

[After asking Alsberg for the quote again] He actually said, ‘That’s why you gotta have a white guy on your crew.’ Matt asked him to repeat it, and he repeated it. He even went on to say that they had hired like six blacks or something, but that they couldn’t hack it so they had to let them go. I mean, he was implying that because of the color of their skin, they couldn’t wrap their minds around anything technical. So Matt texted me all this and that was it. We walked in, packed up, and left. The manager seemed to feel bad but the point is that this sound guy didn’t see anything wrong with what he said. And that was the problem.

In a letter to Busdriver, Antimc, and Daedelus (the three acts scheduled to perform that night), Harpers Ferry's general manager Andrew Dolan apologized and reiterated the club's zero-tolerance policy for "such behavior." The soundman was apparently fired the next morning and a staff meeting was held the following week regarding "racial sensitivity and appropriate behavior." He ended the letter by saying "words cannot describe how sorry I am and I hope that you do not think ill upon Harpers Ferry as I can assure that what happened is not us and who we are as a club and staff. I welcome you guys back any time in the future to show you what a great venue and staff that we do have here."

Speaking to TMT, Antimc/Matt Alsberg wanted to point out that, despite what happened at this particular venue, they have good friends and have played good shows in Boston. "We hope it isn't something that prevents us from going back there. Hopefully we'll be back through in the future and everyone can come through and have a good time"

Meanwhile, Busdriver, Antimc, and Daedelus each have a handful of separate shows scheduled for December, but will meet up once again for a show at the Troubadour on December 21. Show some support!

Busdriver dates:
12.06.07 - Marseille, France - La Friche Belle de Mai
12.08.07 - Paris, France - Aquaboulvard
12.11.07 - Geneva, Switzerland - L'Usine
12.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (with Antimc and Daedelus)

Antimc dates:
12.16.07 - Eagle Rock, CA - Eagle Rock Center - LA Record X-Mas Party
12.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (with Busdriver and Daedelus)

Daedelus dates:
12.06.07 - Miami, FL - Upper Eastside Garden
12.08.07 - Athens, GA - Next to Last Fast
12.14.07 - Phoenix, AZ - Stray Cat Lounge
12.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (with Busdriver and Antimc)

Photo: Abe Deyo, from [Busdriver's MySpace]

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