The bands Wax Idols and King Woman were very excited to be opening for Pentagram on their recent tour, and then it began and shit hit the fan. The first date ended up being cancelled, and the second date almost didn't happen, but frontman Bobby Liebling eventually showed up.
All of this was chronicled in a new piece over at Noisey in a must-read interview with the frontwomen of both bands, Hether Fortune (Wax Idols) and Kristina Esfandiari (King Woman). In the interview, they explain the reasoning for dropping out, mostly due to inappropriate comments from Liebling:
What sorts of comments were Bobby and others making?
Fortune: Bobby made several absurdly gross, inappropriate comments to all of the women on the tour, but the worst thing was that a fan told us that she left the Pentagram show and was super disgusted because he was making rape jokes onstage. And he was. He did. He makes jokes onstage about how the legal age of consent is only 16, and I don’t know what the rape joke was this time, because I wasn’t even watching them. At that point, I didn’t watch them anymore. But people were writing to us and King Woman expressing their disgust with the shit that he was saying onstage about rape. So I was like, “Alright, I can’t do this. It’s just too much.”
Esfandiari: I didn’t personally hear it, but fans were emailing me, and I was like, “Oh, shit. I didn’t know it was like that.”
Fortune: We were also told that Bobby said the only reason he green-lighted the tour with us and King Woman was so that he could have “a lot of options with women.” And the way we were treated, and the things that Bobby was saying to us, reinforced that. And made it pretty easy to believe that was true, because that was the way he treated us. I personally never felt unsafe or violated. I just felt grossed out and disrespected. My other bandmates, however, were often basically hiding from Pentagram. They wouldn’t go in the green room, they would hide in the van—they didn’t want to be around at all because they were that uncomfortable.
The two go on to say that promoters were telling them they weren't getting their fair share of money and hospitality, and when they tried to confront Pentagram's tour manager, they might as well have been speaking to a wall:
How did the tour manager treat you when you brought that to him?
Fortune: I said, “You don’t know anything about what’s going on in the contracts about how you’re supposed to be distributing buyouts to us.” He said, “I don’t know anything about that.” And I was like, “So, you don’t think in any way that package payouts include our band?” And he said, “Oh, you think you’re owed something, I guess.” I was like, “Man, this is bullshit. We’ve been treated like shit this whole tour and all I’m trying to do is be treated with a basic amount of respect and do my job.” And he was like, “How have you been treated like shit?” And I listed all of the ways, and that included all of the stuff Bobby and other people in their camp were doing. And he just laughed in my face and smirked and said, “Well maybe you’re not cut out for this.” I was like, “Ohh. Fuck. You.”
“Maybe you’re not cut out for this.”
Fortune: I’ve been in touring bands for ten years—in bands with men and women, on tours with all men, and on tours with girls. I’ve worked with men and women. And I have never in my life been treated this badly on a tour by anyone. Never. It was shocking. I know I’m not a famous rock star or something, but I have been doing this long enough to know what I’m doing, and to know how things should be run in a professional, respectful manner, and that is not how this tour was run. It was a joke.
To make matters worse, Pentagram's management released this completely tone-deaf statement:
We’ve been professionally performing and recording music for close to 50 yrs [sic] and this is one of the most unfounded and grossly opportunistic situations that we’ve ever encountered. These bands didn’t communicate to Pentagram or the tour manager about wanting to leave the tour. A few nights into the tour, they simply disappeared, posted negatively about us on social media and then headed over to the show that was previously set up for them that very night.
Our mutual agent had set up a separate deal with the promoters for the opening acts. Pentagram’s contract and all inclusions/exclusions were between Pentagram and the promoter.
Bobby Liebling offended someone from one of the opening bands. He said something to the effect of, “I approve of you being on the tour because I want options.” Pentagram as a band sincerely apologized for Bobby’s comment. Bobby verbally hit on this girl, that’s as far as it got. It’s no secret that he’s attracted to women and that’s not a crime. He’s a single man. He may have been uncouth but there was no touching. We tried to be nice but these openers gave us no real chance to interact, avoided us at all costs and made us feel uncomfortable on our own tour.
I could sit here and explain all the things wrong with this statement, but Krieg's Neil Jameson already did such a bang up job with it, I don't need to.
Bobby Liebling is no saint, it's been very well documented, but just because you invite a band with women on tour, it does not give you the right to treat them like a piece of meat. Sure, he comes from a different era, but he's touring today…in 2016, and you have to show respect to your tourmates.