SXSW 2011: Screeching Weasel singer apologizes for Friday altercation
Screeching Weasel frontman Ben Weasel (real name: Ben Foster) has issued a statement apologizing for a Friday evening altercation with a fan in Austin, Texas. "I wish to say that I am sorry to the fan and any others who were involved," Weasel said in a statement posted on his official website. "As a husband, father, and a musician on the public stage, I understand that it is my duty to always take responsibility for my actions in a socially acceptable way, and most especially in the face of confrontation."
As previously reported, Screeching Weasel's performance as part of the South by Southwest conference and festival came to an abrupt end. Weasel had spent much of the night railing against the media, SXSW and even those in attendance. During a particularly long rant, Weasel was hit with either a cup of water or beer by a female fan, and moments later the same fan was believed to have been the one who threw an ice cube that hit Weasel near the eye.
In the days since the concert, numerous YouTube videos document what happened next, with Weasel lunging off the stage and throwing a punch at the offending female audience member. Police were called to the venue, Austin's Scoot Inn, but no action was taken Friday night as all parties involved in the fracas had left the scene.
"Whatever my feelings are about fans crossing the line like that, I wish I could have that moment back and deal with it in the same spirit as I did the preceding 60 minutes," Weasel said in the statement. "Since I can’t, an apology is all I’ve got, and I sincerely hope those people will accept it."
Earlier, this blog noted it had called Weasel and did not hear back. While an attempt to speak to Weasel was made by myself and WBEZ blogger/Sound Opinions co-host Jim DeRogatis, who also documented Friday's events, information was later relayed to the two of us that the cellphone number dialed to reach Weasel was one the artist was no longer using.
The band was to perform Saturday night in San Antonio, but the concert was canceled. In addition, DeRogatis noticed that "at least one band" has removed itself from Screeching Weasel's two-night event, dubbed Weaselfest, at the end of May in Chicago. The act, the Chinese Telepones, said in a statement on their site that "recent events in Austin" persuaded them to drop off the Weaselfest bill.
What follows is the full statement from Weasel:
I want to apologize to both the club owner and audience member involved for my actions during our show at SXSW on Friday night. While their actions were outside of my control, my regretful reaction is wholly my responsibility. Whatever my feelings are about fans crossing the line like that, I wish I could have that moment back and deal with it in the same spirit as I did the preceding 60 minutes. Since I can’t, an apology is all I’ve got, and I sincerely hope those people will accept it. Up front, I wish to say that I am sorry to the fan and any others who were involved. As a husband, father, and a musician on the public stage, I understand that it is my duty to always take responsibility for my actions in a socially acceptable way, and most especially in the face of confrontation.
I want to apologize to the San Antonio fans, also, for having to cancel that show. I hope we can make it up down the road. I’ve obviously already talked to my band about it, but I also want to publicly apologize for putting them in a bad position, as well as my manager, booking agent, label, and the support bands. My actions were unprofessional and unfair to the people I work with.
Suburban Chicago's Screeching Weasel is currently on the comeback trail, having released its first album in 11 years. The much-adored act is lauded for taking the urban rush of the Ramones and bringing it to the 'burbs, ultimately paving the way for the likes of Green Day and Blink-182. The band appeared in Los Angeles in the latter half of 2010, a show that was reviewed by The Times.
-- Todd Martens
Photo: Screeching Weasel in Los Angeles in late 2010. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times