Rapper George Watsky got a bit carried away at Warped Tour UK this weekend…
There’s been a lot of talk about gig etiquette this year, and in particular stage diving. You’ll likely all be familiar with the Randy Blythe/Lamb Of God trial/acquittal from earlier this year (if not, you can catch up here), so hopefully you’ll also be familiar with his drive to educate people about the dangers of stage diving. Understandable, and yet as far as I’ve heard, he’s also not proselytised to the point of “okay, god, shut up already”; a delicate balance to get right.
On the flip side, The Ocean recently bemoaned the stagediving restrictions at a show on Summer Slaughter, which was the venue’s prerogative, but turned into an interesting debate.
On a related note, a few of us went to see The Dillinger Escape Plan in London the Friday before last. We didn’t review it, but we did make mention of it in a question on our Facebook page last week, and it’s entirely topical, as guitarist Ben Weinman pulled a figurative Jesus and crowdsurfed whilst remaining upright, whilst frontman Greg Puciato climbed up to and leaped into the assembled mass from a first-storey balcony during closer “43% Burnt“.
That second action is particularly pertinent today, as just over a week later and five miles away, London’s famous Alexandra Palace was the venue for a functionally similar but wildly misjudged occurrence took place at the London stop of the Vans Warped Tour this weekend.
The tour is wildly popular with younger fans of rock and the lighter end of metal in the States, where it tours every year, but it’s now gaining traction in Europe. The bill, featuring the likes of Coheed and Cambria, Memphis May Fire and our new favourites Black Dogs, also brought rising U.S. rapper George Watsky back to our fair shores, not six months after he was last here.
Watsky, who is rabidly popular on YouTube, can count me as a big fan, and so to hear what transpired at the end of his set both saddened and surprised me. I’m sure he’s getting that a lot today, because as the following video illustrates, he finished the show by climbing the not inconsiderable lighting rig over the stage and leaped into the crowd. The difference here was that the height was the equivalent to about three storeys, and as such two people ended up getting hurt.
Now, the comments sections of wherever I’ve seen this news have been pretty damning. The incident has caught the attention of the Sky News, The Telegraph, Metro, the Daily mail (eurgh) and others, so you can imagine the volume of backlash. As any Watsky fan will tell you, he’s not the kind of person to recklessly endanger people. His entire demeanour is one of infectious positivity, so it’s more a (seriously) poor lapse in judgement than a stunt indicative of his level intelligence. He started out as a spoken word poet, and some of his material is really smart and introspective, so he certainly doesn’t fit the mould of your stereotypical guns n’ bling rapper.
Soon after the stunt he posted the following lengthy apology on his Facebook page, which explains the incident and the aftermath:
This is news to some, but many of you may have heard about the incident today at Warped Tour London. I jumped off an extremely tall lighting tress during my last song, and was taken to the hospital for examination. I was released, and I’m fine, besides some nicks, bruises, and the shame of endangering the crowd. The fall broke a girl’s arm and hurt another guy. My tour manager Nils and I stayed at the hospital for 6 hours til the visiting period ended, and all I know about the man’s condition at this point is that he has no breaks and the injury seems to be muscular/ bruising. I’ll be going back in the morning to try to apologize, but I wouldn’t blame the guy if he spits in my face. The jump was not awesome, it was not badass, and it was not ballsy. It turned what should have been a great day for the people who got hurt into a nightmare. It was stupid and wildly irresponsible, plain and simple.
I have no excuse for my actions, and the only way I can explain my mindset is that it was a huge overreach in the heat of the moment. No, I was not drunk or on drugs. I used to be a kid who was afraid to do anything physically dangerous– I was scared of the ball in little league, didn’t want to jump into lakes and would never have had the nerve to crowdsurf. But in the last year of touring, I’ve done increasingly risky things, maybe pushing myself by some dumb sense I am conquering my early timidity. I pride myself on trying to put on a good show and always giving 100% energy, but jumping off some high shit doesn’t make someone a good musician or performer. I feel fucking terrible. I made a boneheaded decision that got people hurt, and it’s extremely lucky it wasn’t worse. Putting your own body on the line is one thing, but putting other people in harm’s way is inexcusable. Today I let down my supporters, I let down the Warped Tour and I let down my band and the people who work their asses off behind the scenes to make these shows happen. My #1 priority right now is to somehow make this right for the folks who were hurt.
I will not be canceling the remaining 6 tour dates. I will do the shows, as usual I will meet everyone afterwards, and I will NOT be jumping off anything. I am deeply sorry and I promise to learn from this mistake.
I’m really glad no-one got hurt, and George will obviously learn from this big time. It’s potentially a blessing that this happened in the UK rather than back home, where two costly lawsuits would be a very real and present threat to his burgeoning career.
The differences between Puciato and Watsky essentially come down to experience; Greg has done this a hundred times before, and knows the limits. George clearly didn’t, but does now.
The bottom line for me is that the excitement of live music makes people do stupid things. How many times have you seen the crowd mentality at work, making people do really dumb shit?
So, there’s probably a middle ground to be found here. The “Moral Of The Story” is this: if you think something might be a bad idea, it probably is. Climbing down is just as brave as climbing up. And most of the time, if you’re wise enough to realise when you’ve fucked up and can apologise for it, you probably don’t deserve the worst the YouTube has to throw at you.