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public handbags online after The Ocean complained about their show being hamstrung by venue limitations on Summer Slaughter

Summer Slaughter 2013 dates

We normally try not to get involved in disputes between public figures in metal, as it’s a bit tabloidy and let’s face it, we’re all here for the music – but this one is actually quite pertinent, so here’s the skinny:

Something of a spat has made its way online today after Germano-Swiss post-metal band The Ocean had a bit of a go on Facebook last night about their show being hamstrung by venue limitations on Summer Slaughter, of which they are a part.

The Ocean Summer Slaughter Facebook rant

Basically, it seems like they’ve not been allowed to go as crazy as they wanted, and are a bit miffed about it. Fair enough; artistic expression and all that, and their show is very good. Maybe not quite as limb-endangering as the tour’s headliners The Dillinger Escape Plan, but still.

For those unaware, Summer Slaughter is indeed billed as “the most extreme tour of the year”, and is currently making its way around North America. You may not know that it was founded by Sumerian Records head Ash Avildsen, a figure who is no stranger to online wars of words (you may remember the disagreement over Spotify with Metalsucks in 2011).

As such, it was probably an ill-advised rant to be honest, as The Ocean have been called out through official channels by Avildsen. It’s a bit big to screen-cap, but you can find it here.

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I’m a bit offended by The Ocean Collective‘s recent Facebook post jabbing Summer Slaughter and some of the venues that are willing to host it so let me set the record straight.

Summer Slaughter is called “The Most Extreme Tour Of The Year” because of the music. It’s the only tour that puts 10 national acts who play progressive, extreme music all on one stage inside a club during the summer in North America. It’s not called this because of bands doing vintage stage antics.

Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison were jumping off stages in to the crowd before you guys ever picked up an instrument. Jumping off things at a venue doesn’t make you extreme, it makes you dangerous. Sure it’s a cool thing to watch if no one gets hurt, who doesn’t love eye candy? But the reality is people get injured, paralyzed or in rare cases die from this and therefore certain venues at these capacity levels will not allow it. This is usually because of past lawsuits or ones that are still pending verdicts/settlements. It’s not the opening band who’s going to end up footing the bill for the kid when their parents sue for a million dollars for damages, it’s the venue. So next time you start whining about not being allowed to be “extreme” enough on Summer Slaughter, focus on being appreciative of the opportunity you have been given to play your music in front of thousands of people opening for some other great bands instead. If you still really think your music and live performance simply will not be properly conveyed because you can’t jump off shit, then do it where other people don’t have to catch you and risk getting hurt. Land that move and go back on stage to finish your vocal line. That’s extreme. Or maybe you go on tour with Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza and find a new definition for what you consider extreme at a show. I invited you to play because I appreciate your music, so start appreciating the venues and people who are making it possible for you to be here. While you keep taking notes from Dillinger on stage, be sure to take them off stage too. They carry their our own tour/liability insurance. Might want to look in to that bud.

P.S. Mick Foley getting thrown off the top of a steel cage by The Undertaker at Hell In A Cell and taking a 16 foot fall is far more extreme and just as scripted as your next stage dive.

-Ash Avildsen
Summer Slaughter Tour Creator

To me, making this public was both childish and pointless, as it just serves to divide people, who subsequently make snap judgments on either the band or the tour, and probably only hurting both in the process. Then again, will it get people to think about the issue? I’m not sure about that, but others may disagree. Indeed, it might well cause you to point the finger of hypocrisy for giving the exchange publicity in the first place, but I can live with that.

At this point though, it’s essentially a case of “this tour is about as extreme as a wet fart” vs. “yeah, well there are people in the history of music who have done more extreme things than you so whatevs mate”. I’m always of the mindset that offence is taken, not given, and it’s perfectly possible to rise above it, but this option has not been taken.

The thing is, both are sort of missing the point about why this is an issue. Cast your minds back only a couple of months, to when Lamb Of God‘s Randy Blythe was acquitted of a manslaughter in the Czech Republic, a trial predicated by the death of a fan who stage dived at one of their shows in 2010.

Shortly after, Blythe wrote a very poignant piece about stage diving, and whilst it was more to do with fans getting up on stage, it’s just as pertinent towards bands as well. In particular, this segment:

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If you are in a band, remember what has happened to me, to Daniel, and to his family. If you are playing a show, make sure that security is adequate and that barricades are properly placed. A dead fan of my band would still be alive today if those two things had been in place in Prague that night in 2010. I never saw that stage before I set foot on it, and I wish I could go back in time, inspect that nightmare set up, let the people in charge know that they did not fulfill a vital part of the contract we sent out, tell my crew to pull our gear out of there, and leave that town. But I cannot go back in time, I never had the chance to see that stage, Daniel is dead, and I can only warn you band guys and girls to make sure the venue and promoter are holding up their end of the contract. Do not settle for less. This is a matter of life and death, as I can sadly attest.

I think both parties need making aware of this, if they haven’t already seen it. The Ocean are smart guys, but they have to understand that if they’re getting hamstrung by venue policy, that’s the venue’s right. I’ve seen some comments on one or another of the Facebook threads saying that venues are only interested in protecting their backs, which is almost inconceivably retarded. No, they don’t care about people dying; just their insurance premiums. Jesus jumping Christ, guys.

Do you know who ultimately pays these premiums? You. An increase in a venue’s liability insurance premiums is an increase in overheads, and what that means is an increase in ticket prices. You have to ask yourself whether paying another £5 (or whatever) to see a show is worth it, just because a minority want to jump on peoples’ heads who may or may not have asked for it.

Avildsen also mostly prefers to go down the route of defending his “extreme metal” tag, and although I appreciate his attempts to garner appreciation for the venues, it’s not really the main thrust of his argument – something this public could have been put to better use, if it had to be done at all.

Most of the time it’s fine, sure, but venues have to cover themselves, and in the wake of Blythe’s trial and, thankfully for him, acquittal, it’s more than understandable that venues are being more careful.

Fucking. Good.

Metal shows are energetic at best, and violent at worst, and they have to have to make sure everyone is having fun in as safe a manner as possible. Extreme antics should not be the be-all and end-all, and the especially tragic thing with this is that an Ocean show without all the jumping about is still a marvelous experience.

The key modifier is the size of the show. In rooms holding 500 people or fewer, there’s really quite a lot of latitude for that type of behaviour – but above that, the weight of numbers mean that things can get really out of control very quickly indeed. The bigger the crowd, the greater the dehumanising effect on any one individual within that crowd. It’s enough to scare any business owner.

Someone falls over in a pit of 50 people, they’re going to be seen and picked up. A pit of 500, and they could be staying down, especially with the way crowds surge. Summer Slaughter is no mean tour package – we’re talking over 1000 people – so it bears thinking about.

Summer Slaughter only has four more dates (see below), so they won’t have to put up with each other for much longer (if at all). Let’s hope this is as far as it goes.

August 16th – Ogden Theatre, Denver
August 17th - The Complex, Salt Lake City
August 19th - Showbox SODO, Seattle
August 20th – Roseland Ballroom, Potland

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