A Denver venue has canceled a November 15 and 16 music festival organized by Metal DP, a Colorado-based independent music promoter that has booked bands that use neo-Nazi iconography, revel in the Holocaust and affiliate with labels that have been blasted for fascist and white supremacist ties.
On Monday night, venue owner Ken Morris — who has spent this year trying to save the Lakewood bar and club most recently called the Silver Spur Saloon — came across a string of bad reviews online of his venue, which he's renamed Antero Hall at Eck's Saloon. However, they weren't run-of-the-mill "the joint's dirty, the sound's bad and the staff's unfriendly" jabs. Reviewers accused the venue of being a hub for Nazis and fascists.
Morris says he was taken aback. He claims he lost friends after he hung a sign, not long after reopening the venue, asking patrons who encounter racism, sexism, homophobia or harassment to notify staff immediately.
On Tuesday morning he spoke with one of his critics, who pointed to Colorado Springs Antifa's documentation of the fascist ties of the bands Metal DP had booked for the festival, which was dubbed Divinus Principium and would have hosted a roster of black-metal groups.
When Colorado Springs Antifa caught wind of the show, the activists dug into the bands' histories and documented how the groups affiliated with fascist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and racist ideas, symbols and causes.
Resale Concert Tickets
Colorado Symphony Orchestra: Bertie Baigent - A Colorado Christmas
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019 / 1:00pm @ Boettcher Concert Hall 1245 Champa Street Denver CO 802041245 Champa Street, Denver CO 80204
There was the headliner Deiphago, which describes itself as "arguably the most violent band on the planet" and issued a record with the band Necroholocaust called Gods of Holocaust. The Philippines-based group had already been taken off the lineup by Metal DP after the U.S. government declined to allow its members into the country. The other headliner, Obeisance, also released an album with Necroholocaust, called Bringers of Black Genocide, that had Nazi soldiers on its cover.
Activists encouraged others to blast Antero Hall with negative reviews until the owner canceled the show. Morris ultimately conceded — partially because he hadn't secured a liquor license from the city, so he couldn't sell alcohol, and also because he didn't want the debate to continue over his bar.
He wrote on Facebook:
It's come to my attention the show scheduled this weekend has controversial acts in it and social justice warriors have been posting a barrage of negative reviews of my place over the last few hours, although I've never met any of them, and thus far only one has taken the time to speak to me.
The show has been canceled, and for more reasons than woke people taking it upon themselves to decide what others should see, do, or listen to.
In no way shape or form do I or the people I associate with condone hate speech or acts of violence against anyone, for any reason.
This said, I also believe freedom of speech entitles everyone to say whatever they want... but they have to live with the consequences of it.
This was not the first time Morris had worked with Metal DP or the first time he canceled one of the promoter's concerts. When Metal DP attempted to bring the band Horna, whose members have ties to National Socialist Black Metal, Morris booked but later ditched the group over its alleged fascist affiliations. The band was also slated to perform at the hi-dive, which also canceled.
When Morris scrapped that show, he says he promised Metal DP's head Derek Pettinelli that when he wanted to plan another concert — with a band that didn't have Nazi ties — the promoter would be more than welcome to use the club. When Pettinelli approached him about Divinus Principium, Morris asked if the festival would be controversial. "I got assurances it was not," he says.
Morris explains that bringing the venue up to code distracted him and he hadn't paid attention to the lineup or researched the bands. But after getting wind of their neo-Nazi ties and being slammed on social media, he called Pettinelli and canceled the show. Morris says the promoter took the news surprisingly well. (Pettinelli declined to comment for this story.)
A Denver musician who asked to go by the name of Ross H. for this story and who rallied online for the show to be canceled provided us with the following statement:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Of course I'm glad that Ken Morris/Antero Hall eventually made the correct decision to cancel the shows. The headliner, Deiphago put out a split LP with Necroholocaust titled 'Gods of Holocaust'. Deiphago not being allowed into the US might have something to do with their guitarist punching a woman in the face backstage in 2015. The next headliner, Obeisance, put out a fascistic split with Necroholocaust titled Bringers of Black Genocide, featuring Nazi soldiers on the cover. The next headliner is House of Atreus, who is signed to Iron Bonehead Productions, and can be seen promoting nazi metal bands such as Arghoslent, among others. The list goes on. None of these bands should be given a platform to spew their hate speech in Colorado.
What's made clear by this situation is two things: Absolutely no venue should work with booking agency/promoter Derek Pettinelli and Metal DP (who have now been shut down twice for booking nazi trash) and venue owners MUST start doing their due diligence when working with promoters and booking bands. Morris seems more outraged that people publicly responded to his decision to book shows with known fascists/racists/bigots than the fact that he was tricked into hosting them. If venues don't properly vet who they work with, they can expect the same results when they "accidentally" book a bill full of violent fascists.
After Morris canceled the show, activists removed the negative reviews and promised to write positive ones. But Morris says he only wants sincere reviews, whether they're positive or negative.
He says he'll never work with Metal DP again.
"Both sides are idiots for different reasons. I'd rather not play with either of them," he says of Metal DP and Antifa, adding, "I got caught in the crossfires of something I didn't know was brewing."