Meet The Safe Gigs for Women Team

Name: Tracey | Where from: Queens Park, West London.

First gig, first festival: My first gig was at Hyde Park watching Bob Dylan, The Who and Eric Clapton. I was 14 I think, so about 1995? (Although honestly it was Kylie Minogue for my 8th birthday). My first festival – Reading festival 2000. Beck tied people to the stage, I got slightly concussed on the last night by someone lobbing a full bottle at my head, which was then not helped by watching a man running around naked with a toilet brush sticking out from his ass.

Top 5 albums: Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible/Everything Must Go. (This counts as one as they tell two parts of the same story. You won’t win having this argument with me). Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart. Or Love, Ire and Song. Idlewild  – 100 Broken Windows. Primal Scream – XTRMNTR

Gah – this is tooo hard! Who set these questions? Erm….. Ben Marwood – Back Down. Or Hole – Live Through This. Or Arcade Fire – Funeral. Or Los Campesinos – Romance is Boring. Or Archive – You All Look the Same To Me. Or Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager.

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: I’ve been going to gigs since I was 14. Over that time I have experienced sexual harassment at gigs and festivals on numerous occasions. In 2015, I travelled to Cardiff to see my absolute favourite band (Manic Street Preachers) play a 20th anniversary set for their seminal album, The Holy Bible. During the last song, a guy lunged at me putting both hands around me, pulling me towards him. Once I’d fought him off, he told me he’d done it because “it’s the last song”.  I cried. After spending the rest of the night blaming myself for going alone/wearing a dress and make up/having one cider, I woke up the next morning a lot calmer and decided to write about what happened. Safe Gigs for Women grew from that blog. I think I just got to the point where I feel so angry that as a woman, why isn’t my love of music taken seriously?

Name – Sarah | Where from: Isle of Man

First gig, first festival: Probably someone’s Dad’s band playing Thin Lizzy covers down the local; Hopfarm 2011.

Top 5 Songs (gave up on albums, too difficult): Perfect Day- Lou Reed, Strangers- The Kinks, Fisherman’s Blues- The Waterboys, Wuthering Heights- Kate Bush, My Kingdom for a Horse- Frank Turner.

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: Because I’m at my most ecstatically happy at a gig, and no-one should have the right to take that away from me or anyone else.

Name – Mel | Where from: This is a very complicated question! I am an American, having lived in 5 US states, but I lived in Australia for 15 years before moving to the UK in 2015. My accent shifts, so if you meet me, you might not pick where I’m from.

First gig, first festival: My first gig was to see Eddie Money in 1981 at a local racetrack. I was 13 years old. My first festival was Day on the Green in San Francisco in 1983.

Top 5 albums: I have put some thought in! Rush, Moving Pictures. Marillion, Misplaced Childhood. Black Flag, Damaged. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle. Frank Turner, Poetry of the Deed.

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: Because as a feminist who goes to so many gigs, I am appalled that there are people who think it is appropriate to treat other gig-goers with such disregard. I want to be the change I want to see, so when I met Tracey (and we got on like a house on fire) I decided I could help. I have legal expertise, which is helpful, and a general willingness to do stuff. Hopefully one day we’re not needed anymore.

Name – David | Where from: Hemel Hempstead

First gig, first festival: Levellers, Watford Colosseum, 1996. Reading Festival 1997.

Top 5 albums: Bob Dylan, Desire. Pearl Jam, Ten. Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run. The Decemberists, Picaresque. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman.

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: I think the question should be why wouldn’t I volunteer for SGFW? When Tracey first started SGFW the reaction from gig venues was ‘this makes complete sense’ and festivals ‘we don’t have a problem’. Building support from gig goers and musicians SGFW is now month-on-month appearing at gigs, venues across the UK and major festivals. There is no longer a ‘denial’ in there being a problem, but a building united call across the industry to take a stand against harassment at music events. This is not a ‘woman’s’ problem, it’s something everybody that cares about live music needs to be part of to make a change, and that’s why I’m part of SGFW.

Name: Anna | Where from: Manchester

First gig, first festival: Coldplay, Glastonbury

Top 5 albums: Carole King – Tapestry. Frank Turner – Love, Ire & Song. Manic Street Preachers – Everything must go. Seth Sentry – This was Tomorrow. Skinny Lister – Down on Deptford Broadway. (This list changes on a daily basis).

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: Music and going to gigs is a huge passion. In particular I’ve met some great friends through Xtra Mile Recordings gigs, where I’ve found a real sense of community. However, I have also been to gigs where I have felt rather uncomfortable. It’s a huge privilege to volunteer for an organisation which strives to raise awareness and facilitate creating a safe environment at gigs. No one should have to tolerate any form of abuse, and hopefully through raising awareness, people feel more comfortable to speak out about their own experience, or to challenge/raise awareness if they observe someone else being abused.

Name: Ivan | Where from: Bolton

First gig, first festival: Carter USM, Reading 1991

Top 5 Albums: Get Up Kids – Something to write home about. Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Texas is the reason – Do you know who you are. Afghan Whigs – Black Love. Refused – Shape of punk to come

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: Creativity be that in music, art, dance, theatre or whatever medium you choose is based on community. If you a performer you wish to be heard, an artist to be seen and in today’s society everyone should be able to feel safe in that community. I am lucky enough to have seen many bands and support live music by going to gigs, promoting them and being part of that community. I want to support that community in making sure it is safe for all and especially safe for women to be able to share in all the creativity that is available. No one should miss out. Everyone should feel safe. As Frank Turner, said it’s ridiculous that we are even having this debate in today’s society, but unfortunately sometimes gigs are not safe and we have to be able to support each other, look out for one another and make sure that gigs are safe.

Sarah | Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

First Gig: My first gig was seeing Catatonia at Northumbria Uni in 2000. Cerys was amazing! I thought the floor was going to cave in from the crowd jumping.

Top 5 Albums: I am a Bird Now – Antony and the Johnsons; The Bones of What We Believe – Chvrches; O – Damien Rice; This is my Truth Tell Me Yours – Manic Street Preachers; Diamond Mine – King Creosote and Jon Hopkins

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: Having seen and experienced assault and inappropriate behaviour at gigs over the years, I decided to get involved and try to make a difference by raising awareness of the issue. I’d just like people to know there are organisations out there who can support them, and that you don’t need to put up with behaviour in a gig that wouldn’t be accepted in other aspects of our lives. I love live music, and want everyone to feel safe to be wherever they want to be in an audience and whatever gig they choose, so they can enjoy it as much as anyone else.

Name: Sarah | Taunton, Somerset.

First gig: Oh dear, this is where any street cred I pretend to have evaporates instantly. Altered Images-Exeter University. I think I was 14.

First Festival: Hmmm, I think it was the V Festival in 1996, but that was a day ticket. My first ever stay over was 2000 trees last year, and fulfilled a burning ambition I’d fostered since 2013.

Top 5 Albums: Are you kidding! I tend to play albums to death and fall out of love with them. Off the top of my head in no particular order. 1) Arrival – ABBA don’t mock, it’s a master class in pop song writing. 2) Tape Deck Heart – Frank Turner, because it changed my life. 3) Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager – Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly. Because Sam is a genius. 4) Besta Venya – Nick Parker because I think Nick is one of the best singer songwriters out there today. 5) Nimrod – Greenday because even though I played it to death I still love it.

There are heaps of others, but these where the first to spring to mind! Mostly XtraMile artists!

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: Quite simply I was inspired by Tracey, I’d no idea that the problem was so prevalent and was deeply shocked. I only started gigging again in 2013 since becoming disabled in 2008. It was, and still is, part of my therapy! Many years ago I was assaulted by a man on a packed train and this meant that I could identify strongly with the cause. I am also passionate about live music and believe it should be a safe space for everyone. We are a community after all!

Name: Josh | Swindon but currently residing in Dundee, Scotland

First gig, first festival: Christ, my first gig was a friend of a friend’s band called Duct Tape in some dive bar in the middle of the wrong part of town. I must’ve been about 14 (it was 2004 ish) and experienced my first ever mosh pit in which I was smacked in the head with a digeridoo. Despite being nearly concussed, I still walked away loving live music and haven’t stopped gigging since! My first festival was Glastonbury in which a good friend told me that there were tickets up for resale in March after a large number of people decided Jay Z wasn’t worth seeing (they were completely wrong). We picked up tickets and went into our first festival pretty blind, I remember not packing wellies and then immediately losing a shoe in the mud. Was an amazing introduction to the festival scene, Glastonbury is very special and if you’ve never been, you should try at least once. Kings of Leon blew me away, we discovered a bunch of then small unknown acts like Florence and the Machine and ended up walking away with memories that made us want to go back every year.

Top 5 albums: These change from week to week because favourites are hard. 1) Toxicity – System of a down, 2) Tape Deck Heart – Frank Turner, 3) White Butterfly – Inme, 4) Anthem – Less Than Jake, 5) Youth and Young Manhood – Kings of Leon

Why do you volunteer for SGFW: I’ve always heard little bits and bobs over the years about sexual harassment happening at gigs. Remember one incident as a very young gig goer seeing someone get hugged from behind and watching this guy get batted away and just thinking it was normal. I kind of just shrugged and carried on with my life without concentrating too hard about it because Zebrahead were on the stage and I needed to sing my lungs out. It was only when I became a bit more mature and started listening and reading stories about these things happening that I started to learn that this wasn’t on. As a guy I may never understand what it’s like to be in that position and I think that plays a large part in why it took me so long for the pin to drop. So now I keep a close eye out about this sort of stuff and I’m much more crowd aware than I used to be. I make sure the people around me are looked after and if I see or hear something going down, I’ll call it out or act as a human barrier if necessary. Nobody should have a gig experience dampened because someone thought another person was their object to do with as they please and I will do everything I can to help the cause/educate others about the cause. It sucks that this charity has to exist, but since it does, it’s a wonderful cause and I’m so proud of Tracey and the other volunteers for the hard work that they do.