For the second time in less than a month, far-right ideological posturing has spilled over into Vancouver’s live music scene.
A metal show at Pub 340 on Dec. 8 was sullied mid-performance when an audience member raised his arms and motioned the Nazi salute towards the band on stage.
“I’m coming up to promoting 80 shows in Vancouver and this is the first time this has happened at one of my shows,” said Journeyman Productions’ Joey Hockin. “I don’t want my shows to be associated with that kind of thing.”
The incident occurred at the end of a song by local band Death Preacher, when metal fans traditionally raise their hands in the sign of devil’s horns to show their appreciation for the performer. The Nazi salute stuck out and was immediately noticed by at least three audience members, one of whom was Hockin’s co-worker. She asked the man to leave but he refused.
A bartender then intervened and escorted the audience member out of the venue. Hockin has since announced that Nazi sympathizers, or anyone promoting hatred or bigotry, will not be permitted into his shows.
That he’s had to even say so publicly has him scratching his head.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there is the issue of free speech, but it’s my show and I’m going to draw the line and say, ‘No Nazis at my shows.’ End of story,” Hockin said. “It was completely out of place. It’s not like the bands are Nazi supporters. He was asking for trouble doing that.”
Though violence wasn’t involved over the weekend, the same can’t be said for an incident that took place at the Astoria just last month. Members of the “Proud Boys” showed up to the Downtown Eastside venue for a gig that doubled as a fundraiser for marginalized women in mid-November. Established by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys group maintains its ideological stance as a “pro-Western fraternal organization.” Members eschew any ties to far-right ideologies, though McInnes himself has been accused of sexism and bigotry.
According to a story in the Vancouver Sun, Astoria staff asked the Proud Boys members to leave shortly after their arrival, but they refused. One of the Proud Boys was then assaulted in the washroom, prompting his cohorts to then verbally assault Astoria staffers.
Like Hockin, Rickshaw owner Mo Tarmohamed has rarely seen overt racism in Vancouver’s live music community. He’s owned the Rickshaw for six years and hasn’t encountered any incidents like the one Hockin was confronted with last week. If it were to happen, the audience member would be ejected, he says.
“I’m all for free speech and people of different opinions… [But] I wouldn’t allow, for example, a Confederate Flag inside,” Tarmohamed said. “If there’s some level of hate, I wouldn’t allow for that to happen.”