Days after Antero Hall at Eck’s Saloon canceled a two-night black-metal music festival after anti-fascist activists blasted the bands for having Nazi ties, promoter Metal DP's black-metal shindig Divinus Principium — pared down to one day — took place at the Roxy Theatre in Five Points under the name Metal Show.
Activists got word about the move on Saturday afternoon and spent the weekend slamming the Roxy online, accusing the owner and manager of being Nazi sympathizers and fascists.
General manager and talent buyer Travis Ragan, who says he was at home watching The Lion King with his child when he got wind of the hubbub, read a flurry of tweets accusing him and the venue of being in bed with Nazis.
“They started calling me a fascist. I didn’t even know what the word meant,” recalls Ragan. “I had to Google it.”
The venue, owned by Ivan Ovchinnikov, aka horrorcore artist Scum, has been a home for diverse bands but is best known as a Juggalo hub. The Roxy has hosted drag shows, LGBTQ fundraisers and Black Pride events, Ragan says, and Ragan himself promotes hip-hop and reggae.
“Ivan is Russian and Jewish,” he says. “He lived in the USSR during most of his childhood, and he’s married to a black woman.”
When Ovchinnikov got word about the critiques of the show, he was concerned, he wrote to Westword in a statement. He’s both a longtime black-metal fan and an opponent of Nazism in the music scene.
“After reading the tweets, I immediately reached out to our staff working the event, which included my wife, and asked if there's some kind of a Nazi bash going on, which I wasn't going to tolerate,” he wrote. “They told me it was a typical black-metal show, no Nazi imagery on stage, no Nazi salutes, no racial hate preaching...a lot of the regular metal crowd that come to other metal shows at the Roxy; patrons following the venue rules, and no violence taking place.”
Ovchinnikov explained he would have shut down the show if his staff had told him it was a Nazi rally. But he said that simply wasn’t the case.
“Every time we have a black-metal show, we get told to cancel it because they are all Nazis. When we have a rap show, we get told to cancel it because they are all gangbangers. When we have an EDM show, we get told to cancel it because they are all on drugs,” he wrote. “I believe every genre of music has a right to exist, and if the people want to hear it and follow the venue rules, respect our staff, and our neighborhood, then we as a venue are going to allow it. Anyone that knows me, my background, my family, and my associates knows I’m not a Nazi sympathizer. [I’m] as far from that as it gets. But I personally have been banned from playing venues due to my music's gory imagery, content, fanbase, genre, etc., and didn't appreciate that a bit. We strive not to have that be the case at The Roxy.”
Members of Colorado Springs Antifa, which put out the call to blast the Roxy with critical online reviews, deny being prejudiced against any genre of music. “We are not here to demonize black metal. We love black metal. We hate fascists and everything they stand for. We will do what we can to expose them and keep our communities safe from them, whether that's in a music scene, in the military, or in the streets,” the group wrote in a statement to Westword.
Ovchinnikov called bunk. He’s particularly repulsed by some of the anti-fascist activists sporting Soviet iconography.
“As for the imagery, a lot of you guys use Stalin/Lenin era imagery, so does that make you supporters of genocide in my country?” he asked the activists over Twitter. “That regime killed millions of innocent people...or is it just images?”
None of the protesters contacted him directly about the show before blasting the Roxy as a Nazi venue, Ovchinnikov wrote Westword. Instead, they immediately called for a boycott.
“We had a rental contract, and to break that, I'd need more than some angry, rude and hostile tweets,” he added.
Yet anti-fascist activists maintain that they provided him with more than enough information to cancel the show, if he indeed opposed black-metal bands with Nazi ties.
The lineup of the festival, dubbed Divinus Principium, included Colorado's own Abdusias, Scepter of Eligos, Malum Mortuus and Abysmal Womb, along with touring bands Envenom, Serpentian, House of Atreus, Trench Warfare and Obeisance.
Colorado Springs Antifa wrote an extensive blog post about some of the bands, including headliner Obeisance, which put out an album dubbed Bringers of Black Genocide with the band Necroholocaust that shows Nazi soldiers on its cover. Trench Warfare shared a lineup in Chicago with a band called Holocaust. House of Atreus is on Iron Bonehead Productions, a label accused of having fascist leanings, and has promoted other bands accused of being Nazis. House of Atreus has also been on a compilation with Sturmtiger, which borrows its name from a Nazi tank.
Colorado Springs Antifa’s documentation came in the wake of Metal DP attempting to book the Finnish black-metal band Horna at Silver Spur Saloon and the hi-dive. Those venues, along with many more nationwide, canceled the shows after Antifa blasted them and the band's ties to the Nazi black-metal scene were reported by Metal Sucks and other outlets.
Colorado Springs Antifa added to its post documentation of Metal DP owner Derrick Pettinelli’s social-media connections to a variety of people wearing symbols linked to Nazis and alt-right groups.
“We did some digging on Derek Pettinelli, and while we thought he was just a gullible right-libertarian, it turns out he’s pretty fashy too,” the post reads.
Metal DP, which declined our requests for comment on Antifa’s accusations, took to Facebook after the Roxy show and posted: “Thanks to everyone who came out last night! Thank you to those who played and those who refuse to relent. These liars and their ridiculous accusations against me and my fest could not hold a candle to the obvious truth. Metal always finds a way.”
“Long story short, the show went on,” says Ragan. “The show was great. Everybody there had a good time. I was at home with my son. I followed up on everything. They said everything was great.
"As far as the promoter that rented the Roxy for this event...I don't know to tell you the truth," wrote Ovchinnikov about working with Metal DP again. "The amount of headache this show caused is higher then an average rental should be, but he took care of all his contractual obligations, followed venue rules, and the show went without any violence or major issues. I'd definitely have to research the artists on the bill more if we do another show with him to make sure it's normal metal, not Nazi bands. But I'm also not going to blacklist a promoter because people on Twitter [threatened] property damage, support Stalin and claim the purges in my country that costed millions [of] their lives were a good thing."
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