Talking to The Pour House about its canceled Black Pussy show | Music
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Talking to The Pour House about its canceled Black Pussy show

Posted by on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 7:13 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTHERN CROSS PR
  • Photo Courtesy of Southern Cross PR
A week ago, the calls started coming for The Pour House owner Adam Lindstaedt. One after another, familiar customers, enraged civilians and even an anonymous person using voice-masking software let him know that they would never return to his club. The Pour House had offended them.

Several weeks before, he’d booked Black Pussy, a Portland, Oregon stoner rock band whose name is more provocative than its musty riffs and tepid tempos. Lindstaedt wasn’t a fan of the band and admits he didn’t ponder their name very long; he simply had an open Wednesday night, and a familiar booking agent was hoping to put a band in his Blount Street space. Lindstaedt said yes and thought little else of it.

But as Black Pussy prepared to release its Magic Mustache LP, the name began to draw distinct lines in the sands of political correctness. An interview with Portland’s Willamette Week became fodder for an amusing and rhetorical column in Australia that translated the band’s white-bro, shrug-it-off answers into commentary about privileges both white and male, artistic and middle-class. That’s about the time the calls began.

Lindstaedt quietly canceled the gig over the weekend, covering the band’s name on show calendars in advance of his St. Patrick’s festivities. But this morning, the band explained the move—their second canceled show due to their name, according to Willamette Weekthrough the website MetalSucks. The announcement has refueled last week’s local debate about who has the right to be offended by such and who, if anyone, has the right to determine that.

Personally, watching the social media tête-à-tête play out has been frustrating, as it seems a lot of people with white cocks care to decide who should or should not be bothered by the name Black Pussy. Being a member of that class myself, I find it disheartening that folks of my ilk have an opinion at all, aside from support for those who feel slighted. Black Pussy is neither a funny name nor a clever one, whether or not it is a nod to Rolling Stones arcana. There’s nothing here to defend, other than the band’s right to have that name and to suffer or enjoy the consequences—including free publicity and canceled shows—as they come.

It’s too bad that threats of violence were made, worse still that they forced Lindstaedt to can the gig. I was hoping that Black Pussy would show up, be greeted by protestors eager to speak their minds and then play to a dozen or so people too stoned to realize that this stoner rock is as fetid as old bongwater.

In the end, the band Black Pussy is mostly Balking Provocation; somehow, this incident has made them seem more significant than they are. Black Pussy are not martyrs for free speech. They are exemplars of obliviousness.

I spoke with Adam Lindstaedt about the cancelation and its consequences.

INDY: When did the threats start happening?
I came in Monday of last week and had voicemails—20 on Monday, maybe five or six of them very threatening. Physical harm was being threatened. The others were many reasonable people expressing their concerns that they’d been longtime customers, and this show was not a good idea. They urged me to think about it and change my mind on bringing the band through.

I replied to very few people, because there was so much of it, and it was so overwhelming and out of left field for me. This show’s been on the books for a couple of months now. Monday morning is usually a fairly casual morning for me, but with being bombarded and being called a “racist fuck,” I had to step back a little bit and not make any snap decisions and say the wrong thing. I just wanted to be sympathetic. I absolutely heard everybody that’s expressed concerns.

Some people said you ignored the complaints.
I was by no means ignoring it. I was just trying to make a final decision before making a statement to anybody. That’s where we are. The show’s been canceled, and I by no means meant to offend anybody or piss anyone off. I’m here to provide great music to the community I love. I present all types of music, and I may have made a mistake with going forward with this. Maybe I didn’t think about it enough, but hindsight’s 20/20. We’re going to replace the show with something else; I’m talking to Kaira Ba about possibly filling that night.

Did the threats come to the club?
The majority were voicemails left at the club. I had one on my personal cell phone, a couple over e-mail. There’s been things constantly posted to Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been taking them down. Until I had a decision made, I didn’t want that to color people’s perspective on what we’re about.

You’ve told me that you don’t like or personally approve of the band name, but you also don’t like threats of violence against you, your family or your club. How do you perceive the balance between having an offensive band name and allowing bands playing your club to have an offensive band name?
There are ton of miserable band names out there. We had Black Girls play six months ago, which is a band of white dudes. No one said anything. I get contacted by bands with terrible names all the time, like Hookers Made Out Of Cocaine, Fetus Spiker, all sorts of stupid shit.

Beyond words and titles, content is king. People don’t pay attention to that as much. I had 2 Live Crew come through in October, and they’ve got fairly offensive lyrics, to the point where the government banned their music. No one said anything. People said, “Hell yes, 2 Live Crew is coming through.” I’ve got The Dwarves coming Wednesday night. They’ve got pretty offensive content and imagery. No one’s said anything about that besides, “Fuck yeah, The Dwarves are coming.” It’s easy to latch on to words that have predetermined meanings in peoples’ minds. I grew up learning that words are words, and that’s been the guiding principle in a position where you’re contacted by thousands of bands a year. You start to become desensitized to the names a little bit.

But it doesn’t affect me the same way it may a middle-aged African-American lady, and I get that. It’s trying to find that balance with pushing the boundaries a little bit, which rock ‘n’ roll has always done. The band themselves are going about it in a very rock ‘n’ roll fashion. All the negative publicity they’re getting, they’re turning that around and saying, “Hell yeah, look at this. I’m pissing off people and causing a debate.” Whether that’s the right way to go about it or not, that’s totally up to them. Everyone has their own routes.

The main request that I got over and over was to cancel the show and to contact the band and convince them to change their name. I can understand canceling the show, because it’s pissing off a huge section of the public, and it’s going to cause riots. But asking them to change their name and change what they do and change their identity, that’s absolutely crazy. It’s Black Pussy’s decision to call themselves that.

And it’s up to the band to deal with the consequences of that decision?
Exactly. And the venues are being pulled into the middle. We book bands. We work with agencies. Something I was considering doing was, on that day, holding some forum and having a public discussion about names and content and what you can do in art, what’s acceptable, what’s going too far, that type of thing. I’m afraid that’s going to create more problems than it’s worth. It just might become a forum for people to speak on their outrage of Black Pussy and ignore the larger issue at hand, because there’s obviously something going on here that needs to be addressed.

You’ve worked hard in the last few years to bring in a wide array of artists that do sometimes go missing in downtown Raleigh, from funk and soul to even hip-hop, to The Pour House. Are you worried that this scenario negates that?
Jazz is my thing. I grew up on punk rock, and once I grew out of punk rock, I fell into jazz. I’ve been in love with it since then. The first show I booked at the Pour House was Snarky Puppy. It was a Tuesday night, booked two weeks out, and 200 people showed up. That was one of those magical nights that explains perfectly, exactly why I do what I do. Of those 200 people, there were 50 rock dudes, 50 guitar nerds, 50 jazz guys and 50 people into R&B and soul. They were all comingling, and it was one of those goosebumps-inducing nights. I’ve been doing a lot of work with The Art of Cool Project to bring the great things they’ve got going on in Durham over to Raleigh and expanding the reach for not only soul music but for them as well.

All these shows that we’re bringing, there’s a crowd that’s super hungry for it, and we love it. They’re some of our best customers. They make up a good fraction of my business now, and that’s not something I was willing to jeopardize just to put one show on. Three years of work versus one night of music? The three years of development is far more important than going forward with one show.

(Correction: Despite the assertion of the band's publicist, this appears to be the second Black Pussy show to be canceled due to the band's name.)   

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