Wayne Kennedy, organizer and frequent performer at the $2 Punk Shows hosted at The Spill, has recently come under a lot of heat for a couple of reasons.
Three main complaints have come against Kennedy and the punk shows, by a variety of sources.
First, people were concerned with his lack of female punk artists at his shows and the misogynistic undertone that it creates.
Secondly, building off of said sexist concerns was the fact that many people, specifically females, have stated that not only do they not feel safe at these punk shows, but also some actually have been touched, grabbed or hit on in a way that constitutes sexual assault.
Finally, the third complaint has to do with Kennedy’s original name for his record label, ‘Folk You in the Face,’ and the concern that such a name promotes, or at the very least, reinforces rape culture.
All of these problems, although not necessarily fixed easily, can be fixed.
However, Kennedy’s initial reaction was to cancel the shows all together. A Facebook status stating all of the problems was posted, but no solutions were proposed.
Rather than attempting to change the culture for the good, Kennedy’s initial reaction was to simply succumb to any problem by not addressing it and canceling any good that the punk shows were doing.
Before we go any further, let’s address the fact that although these problems occurred within the scope of the two dollar punk shows, the punk shows had, in fact, been doing good.
The monthly event brought people together in an environment that allowed for emotions to be released. Every month a dying music genre was presented to anybody that wanted to attend.
The cost of two dollars also allowed for people on a low budget, or no budget at all to attend with very little difficulty.
Many Peterborough events costs upwards of five dollars, but Kennedy made sure that every one of his punk shows cost two dollars.
He also always advocated for people to donate canned goods to various Peterborough food drives.
This created not only an environment for Peterborough music to grow, but also a place where fans could accumulate in their appreciation for this genre of music.
However, all of the good vibes were made dim by the accusation that the punk shows were a place that sexism and assault occurred.
At least initially, Kennedy provided no support to the problem and reacted in an illogical manner.
Responses to this were mixed. Many people were frustrated with the punk shows being cancelled. Some placed the blame on Wayne himself; others placed the blame on so-called ‘PC culture.’
Others were happy with the cancelling of the shows, as this would make sure that no one else is harmed, at least in the context of the two dollar punk shows.
After a few days of deliberation, multiple Facebook posts regarding the future of the shows and Kennedy’s position on the continuation of the shows, he stated that he would be carrying on with the shows.
However, more emphasis would be put on finding female bands to perform. To be honest, this problem, however very evident is not solely Kennedy’s fault.
There is a lack of female bands in the punk scene. He can only make so many phone calls before he has to begin to fill spots regardless of gender.
That is not to make an excuse for Kennedy, but to point out that certain things happen based out of necessity.
I can also say with the utmost confidence that none of these unfortunate circumstances happened deliberately.
This also applies to the even more serious situation that is sexual assault and safe spaces. The Spill is one of the safest bars in Peterborough.
Unfortunately due to the nature of punk rock (aggressive), it is not out of the realm of possibility that negative things can occur.
Punk rock and its aggressiveness tend to draw in masculine douchebags, and sometimes these people act on their masculine douchebag tendencies.
Most of the time these things can get caught and acted on. I have seen many people thrown out of the bar for sexist or homophobic remarks, and acts of general douchebaggery.
Due to the number of people that attend the punk shows, not everything gets noticed or acted on. Kennedy’s statement on the continuation of the punk shows addressed this, and he has said that he will make an increased effort to pay attention to, and make an example of, anything negative that happens at these shows. Furthermore, Kennedy’s record label has been changed from the uncomfortable name of ‘Folk You in the Face’ records to that of ‘Vacant Music.’
I know that many of these problems are troubling to a lot of people, and I know Kennedy does have some fault in this.
However, as of right now, the right things have been put into place in order to fix said problems.
The punk shows have their problems, but they also have created a lot of good in the community. Kennedy has taken the right steps, and now the onus is on the punk community. People in the punk scene have the obligation placed upon them.
If we want to truly keep these punk shows going, each person that attends needs to be on the lookout for any assholes causing or looking for trouble.
If the scene, as a whole, works together to create a safer space, then punk will thrive. If we fail in doing so, punk, at least in one sense, will be no more.