We in bands invest our time and dwindling finances into music and playing live, because it provides us with the rarest of spaces where no one in the room votes Tory or cares about which type of bathroom you happen to feel more comfortable in. Spaces where burly metalheads will instinctively dive in to rescue someone who’s fallen over in a pit and will defend strangers from violence. We praise bands and colleagues who understand how important these spaces are in a climate that stinks of Thatcherism, Cold War paranoia and the hammer falling hardest on those most vulnerable in our society. A climate that doesn’t see the point in what we do and would crush our communities given half the chance, except for the bit where The Beatles magically bring in “tourism money” or something.
The temptation to pluck all the low hanging fruit from this Cabbage incident is tantalising. Touring with Kasabian is a punchline all to itself. The diluted Fat White Family posturing. That jumping on the tired old industry hype wagon makes the band more of a neoliberal wet dream than genuine agitators. It is cathartic to see it all spill out on Twitter but the central concern needs to be emphasised again and again, and stripped of any context that might diminish the fact that a human being was assaulted and humiliated.
Doesn’t it strike you now that, for all their debauchery, self-abuse and their love affair with substances, the Fat Whites have never been in a similar position? That Frank Carter goes out of his way to ensure that his (always very rowdy) gigs remain free of violence? That a band like Idles can, despite being five scary white blokes, routinely take the piss out of male bravado? People have moved on from machismo in guitar music. Despite it having been declared dead a billion times, it carries on because these examples have kept pace with our shifting societal values. People always assume that guitar music is on life support because it runs the risk of being derivative - this isn’t true. Guitar music survives and thrives because of the positive actions of many, not the few, and how we are able to come together in calling out the actions of an individual.
Despite my years of hard won cynicism in music, I’m confident that this incident will receive a swift and decisive condemnation and that appropriate action will be taken. A grovelling “Sorry if you were offended, but…” will not be good enough. An excuse predicated around the fact that “I was smashed” will also not suffice. Any excuse, come to think of it, will not suffice. With one selfish and privileged act of male aggression, Lee Broadbent, you might not have just scuppered a six figure marketing budget, dashed a feverish industry team’s projected sales targets, and the potential to “rescue guitar music”, but, more importantly, you have lowered us all.
What’s disappointing is that the blind defence of Cabbage online has already begun: “They’re horrible to everyone! It doesn’t prove anything!” and “Could easily be fake lol” both particularly touched a nerve. There’s a line between being controversial and being a prick that has quite clearly been crossed here and, as people who care about music, it is our duty to defend audiences and offer our support to whoever is placed in a position of vulnerability.
While Lee Broadbent will most likely be nursing a sore head in Cabbage’s tour van at the moment, he doesn’t need defending. Until he is able to adequately refute the claims from last night he is indefensible. Young people, the arts and culture are already getting roundly screwed by a government that will, seemingly, outlast us all. We certainly don’t need it to come from our stages - the place we go to escape this drudgery.
(Words: TJ Mobbs)
(TJ plays bass in a punk band - Table Scraps - who have as of yet, managed to not assault anyone)