WAR AT WARPED
THEBIGSTORY THE MPST IMPORTANT THING EVER !
If you’re a fan of rock music and you have access to the internet, chances are you will have noticed that the Warped Tour has been making headlines this year… for all the wrong reasons. Last week, punk veterans The Dickies took it upon themselves to verbally assault and degrade a woman during their set.then falling In reverse singer ronnie radke came out in defence of the LA band, in a bizarre and rambling Twitter missive. It was all very bleak.
In the middle of this depressingly retro misogyny exist War on Women, for many the standout band of Warped 2017. In the same space that The Dickies were spewing their hateful rhetoric,war on Women are playing their own brand of punk rock, screaming songs about reproductive rights, surviving abuse and fighting against rampant sexism. Taking that message across America, especially in today’s political climate, is a bold move, but it’s not one that this band shy away from.
“Playing to people that might not want to hear our message is just part of playing in a band that talks about women’s rights,” says vocalist Shawna Potter.“but that’s not just the case on Warped, either. It’s so normal not to give value to women and their struggles, so whatever show we play, no matter who we’re opening for and how cool they might be, we’re still playing to people that don’t want to hear about feminism.”
Warped has a chequered recent history with a series of high-profile allegations of sexual harassment. Many feel such incidents haven’t been dealt with well.yet that was all part of the reason for War on Women joining the tour.
“We didn’t say yes to the offer [for War on Women to play Warped 2017] right away,” Shawna continues.“we had to think about it for a lot of reasons. But eventually we came to the conclusion that we’ve always been a band that are willing to put ourselves in front of potentially hostile or unreceptive audiences.and it takes all kinds; every kind of band is needed. Bands that preach to the choir are absolutely needed because the choir needs to be preached to and need that to relate to, but then you also have to have bands who go out and try to convert. It’s not always easy or pleasant, but we’re happy to be that band right now.
“for a lot of people,warped is their first experience at a show,” the singer says.“i thought if we could set a good example of what punk is really about – which is challenging the status quo – then it was worth doing, especially if we could do it in a more meaningful way, which is why we’re doing more than just playing.”
The band have taken Safer Scenes out onto the tour with them, an initiative co-created by the band and some friends that aims to speak to people about what they can do to help people who have been the victim of assault or harassment at rock shows. “Being able to bring people out with us to talk about this was actually a huge part of our agreeing to play on Warped,” Shawna says. “Almost everyone in our van has been subject to harassment or violence at shows or in public, so that matters a lot to us.we have these two amazing activists out with us who talk to fans at the table throughout the day and tell them what they can do to help when they see something that isn’t right. Most people want to do the right thing, they just don’t want to mess it up, so they’re here to tell people what they can do that will be helpful to the victim and help everyone’s show-going experience to be better.” And what of ronnie radke’s claim that The Dickies’ actions were punk? “I’ve always felt that punk was meant to challenge the status quo,” says Shawna,“and that’s especially true right now, when the status quo is Donald fucking Trump.there’s nothing more status quo than the American president and the people he has around him, and those people hate women and they hate gay people and they hate refugees.what else is there to fight against, but that? If you’re fighting against a woman speaking her truth, you sound exactly like them.”
“Punk is About challenging The status quo…”