When I think about my teen years, every month and each year is punctuated by concerts. My wardrobe consisted of band tees and tour shirts. I used ticket stubs as bookmarks and my iTunes library was full of music I found while scouring Myspace and Purevolume. Music and pop-punk bands were my entire life.
I was a depressed and awkward teen and going to concerts and smaller local shows were often the only time I felt truly comfortable in my skin. There, in the darkness of the music venue, with basslines and kick-drums thumping through my chest, surrounded by other misfits, I could isolate all other emotions and focus only on euphoria.
It was sacred. An emo kid’s version of a church service.
This weekend, news broke that Jesse Lacey from Brand New solicited nude photos from a 15- year old girl back when he was 24. And from the Facebook thread I read, it seemed like this wasn’t even the first example of his sexually predatory behavior.
Since the Harvey Weinstein story broke a few weeks ago, my Twitter has been a constant dumpster fire. With every scroll of my timeline, there’s new sexual assault accusation. A different Hollywood scumbag is outed. After the 8th, 9th, 10th man was outed, I thought I’d finally managed to develop a method to process the information.
But, when the news about Jesse dropped…I froze.
Because this time it was different. This time it hit way too close to home.
Like Brand New, I’m from Long Island. Growing up in our local music scene, I heard people frequently extol the virtues of Jesse and his band. In fact, the only reason I started listening to Brand New in the first place was that I was sick of the varying looks of shock and disbelief I’d get when I told people I didn’t also worship them.
Brand New easily rose through the ranks and solidified their place as one of my favorite bands. Your Favorite Weapon was the soundtrack to my entire summer before I went away to college for the first time. Then when while at school, I kept the songs on repeat to stave off homesickness.
Even now, years out of college, when the familiar dread of depression creeps up my spine, I reach for The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me and attempt to delay its arrival.
So many specific events, moments, and feelings of my life had Brand New as the background music and theme song.
I deeply and intimately understand the tendency young girls have to idolize members of their favorite band. I understand because I did it consistently. My bedroom walls and school notebooks were plastered with the faces of lanky band dudes with stringy black hair and kohl-rimmed eyes. I peppered them into conversations with mom, my high school teachers, and really, anyone who would listen.
To know that Jesse Lacey understood the inherent power imbalance that existed between a musician and a fan, and then that he repeatedly exploited that imbalance makes me sick.
To know that people were aware of his abuse and quietly enabled him makes me apoplectic.
A small, selfish part of me fears that Jesse will be the Harvey Weinstein of the music world. That this news will release the floodgates and all of the predatory musicians will be exposed. The men I spent the last decade building up in my head will come crashing down on their asses. I fear each fabric and stitches that held me together back then, will come completely unraveled.
But the larger and more rational part of me wants these men to fucking pay.
It’s not fair that these men are able to play sold out shows and are viewed as rock gods, while there are women out who are still suffering from their trauma every single day.
Looking back, I remember the whispers about the local creeps within my own local music scene. The ones who got a little too friendly. The ones you shouldn’t be along with or get too drunk around.
Those whispers are fucking screams to me now.
So fuck you Jesse Lacey, and fuck all of the other guys in shitty rock bands who have exploited and preyed young fans.
I hope in all your scummy actions are brought to light and I hope your own day of reckoning is just on the horizon.