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Warped Tour Adds Artist Accused of Sexual Harassment to Lineup, Artists and Fans React, Ex-GF Speaks

Today, Front Porch Step showed up on the acoustic stage of the Warped Tour. The problem with this is that the man behind FPS, Jake McElfresh, has been accused by multiple girls (some of whom are/were underage) of sexually harassing them via text.

From the all-knowing Wikipedia: "Jake Mcelfresh has been accused by several young people of sexual harassment through mobile phones, including sending nude pictures of himself to underage girls[...]On 3 April 2015, Mcelfresh issued a public statement via Facebook. In it, he described how growing up, he had self esteem issues and "certainly was not a ladies man", and when he finally got his breakthrough with music, he was surprised at how much attention from female fans he received. He admitted that he did indeed correspond with women through text messages, some of which were underage, but reinforced that they were "not as one sided as they seem", also revealing that no charges had been brought up against him. He also stated that even though some of the conversations were sexual in nature, "(he) only had conversations with willing participants". He described how for the past months, when allegations were brought up, he "wondered if (he) wanted to be alive anymore", and took a break from social media after being dropped by his label and removed from all tours, considering it the "greatest thing (he) could have ever done".

When these allegations originally surfaced, Kevin Lyman (i.e. the man behind Warped Tour) confirmed that FPS would not be on the tour this summer.

That appears to have changed. FPS showed up today on the Acoustic Basement stage to play a short set and may or may not be on the rest of Warped Tour. Here's a collection of pictures/tweets about today grabbed from various sites as well as some clips from an excellent op-ed by Kelly Doherty from AbsolutePunk.net on the issue as a whole.

Warped Founder Kevin Lyman's Weak Ass Response
"Lyman met with Mcelfresh's personal counsellor who recommended that performing a set at Warped (the singer now lives in Nashville) would be part of his current therapy. Mcelfresh was not paid for his performance, nor will he be appearing on any other dates of the tour.

"He was only supposed to be here long enough to play his show," Lyman told AP, "but the weather today has been putting us behind schedule. He wasn't added to the tour, so those claims that he was added to sell tickets are completely groundless." Lyman also said only two security guards were near the stage, not five as altpress had reported earlier.

Lyman also stressed that because Mcelfresh has still not been formally charged with any misconduct, he agreed to have him perform. "If he was a legitimate danger to anyone, he simply would not have been here."

Brandon from Handguns:

Just watched the most bullshit set I've ever seen anyone play in my life

— Brandon Pagano (@brandonpagano) July 1, 2015

Watching someone who shouldn't be here get escorted around with 6 security guards and his own golf cart is absolutely insane.

— Brandon Pagano (@brandonpagano) July 1, 2015

Not to mention disheartening because I see people out here working at full potential every day and this mothefuckergets to just hop in?

— Brandon Pagano (@brandonpagano) July 1, 2015

Grey Gordon, performer on the same stage
A few people have asked for my thoughts concerning Front Porch Step's inclusion in the Acoustic Basement Tent today, so I'm going to do my best to address my concerns and ideas about this. As a preface, I want to be clear that Brian Marquis had absolutely no part in the decision to add FPS to today's lineup. The staff at the Basement are nothing but the most hardworking, honest and thoughtful people, and Brian would never facilitate an environment he felt was unsafe for show goers. Sadly, everyone on this tour has someone to answer to, and the final decision simply does not fall on him.

Some of my friends on the stage have decided to not perform today in protest. While I'm not included in that group, I fully support that decision. Personally, I felt obligated to take the stage in order to voice my concern, frustration, sadness and confusion about the situation. In my 25 minutes on the stage, I managed to play about three songs, and took the rest of the time to speak about this matter.

The truly maddening part for me is that this issue is complex. Way more complex than my heart tells me it should be. My heart says that when a person does something as predatory and ethically objectionable as what FPS did, that person should be outed, ostracized and destroyed. That's what I feel in the bottom of my heart. But my brain tells me that I owe myself, the world and the very young kids at this tour a better, more constructive message than that. I wish more than anything that I had the maturity, the presence of mind and the calm to turn this into something positive, but the fact is, I couldn't be more ill equipped to do so.

I don't know how to have a dialogue about this. For as much as I know in my head that there are massive, deeply rooted systemic issues that cause people to act out in these ways, and as much as I'm uncomfortably close to the struggles of teetering mental health, I'm not a big enough person to feel anything but resentment for Jacob for what he did. That doesn't make me right or wrong, it just makes me honest, and I guess what it really means is that I don't feel as if I can contribute to this dialogue in a constructive way. I know what I feel, but I don't think knee jerk reactions and gut instincts should guide what is necessarily a nuanced and multifaceted conversation that needs to be taking place in our culture.

All I can say with certainty is that I'm not a leader and I'm not strong. I don't know how to navigate the intricacies of reconciling my feelings with what I feel I should do. I wish I could add something to this beyond another voice in a chorus of hate, but I don't know how. I know that I did the right thing by playing and by speaking honestly, just as I know my friends are doing the right thing by not playing. I truly hope that, as a community, we can come to a place of peace and healing in this, but I'm not a guiding light on that path. I'm too petty to be that, maybe. I just know that my heart hurts today, and I know that this situation is not right, and I feel deeply conflicted about being on a tour that feels it appropriate to include Jacob on their lineup. I don't know what to do with those feelings, but I know I need to share them. So here I am. I just hope that something better than this desperation that myself and a lot of my compatriots are feeling comes out of this. I really do. I'm sorry that I'm not better at this shit.

From a bitter and hurting heart, much love to everyone.

Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years (who canceled his set in protest):

Nashville: The Wonder Years at 6:30. I won't be a part of the acoustic basement today and I encourage… https://t.co/MfQfve7j6p

— Dan Campbell (@headabovewater) July 1, 2015

Knuckle Puck recommending other bands to watch during FPS' set:

That being said, @ManOverboardNJ& @ThisIsPVRIS play at 1:15 and we urge that you watch one of those bands as long as weather permits.

— Knuckle Puck (@KnucklePuckIL) July 1, 2015

Hayley Williams from Paramore (This is also connected to a Falling in Reverse shirt):

I still believe in you, scene. Demand better bc you deserve better. No more excuses for boys just "being boys". https://t.co/iafnf78Vyw

— hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) July 1, 2015

Confirmed from the press area that @Frontporchstep being allowed to play today was a decision straight from @KevinLyman

— Dead Royal☥y(@ChrisHamptonII) July 1, 2015

I'm counting five security guards at the acoustic basement right now to protect @Frontporchstep from the crowd. #frontporchstep

— Dead Royal☥y(@ChrisHamptonII) July 1, 2015

There is security for @Frontporchstep at the acoustic basement. the crowd is buzzing #frontporchsteppic.twitter.com/M7bl7BPdno

— Dead Royal☥y(@ChrisHamptonII) July 1, 2015

Opening Remarks

“I know who I am and I am fucking very proud of it. Tnx for the ticket money dude, appreciate it” - @Frontporchstephttps://t.co/kSkoGU9o9g

— PropertyOfZack (@PropertyOfZack) July 1, 2015

Anyone who spoke out/tried to interrupt was (respectfully) removed by security. https://t.co/R2Bmcg3bVj

— Brandon Pagano (@brandonpagano) July 1, 2015

.@LeeCoreyOswald is making an effort (every day) to pass out information on rape culture/consent/race issues. https://t.co/mXP30AVdaE

— Brandon Pagano (@brandonpagano) July 1, 2015

Confirmed that there will be an open forum with all @VansWarpedTour bands about @Frontporchstep playing today.

— Dead Royal☥y(@ChrisHamptonII) July 1, 2015

Instagram Promo post from Warped that has since been deleted.

"Today, Front Porch Step is playing the Warped Tour and may possibly play the rest of its run. This comes in the aftermath of Lyman denying (here and here) that he would be playing. This year, rather than simply refuse to represent women accurately and passively engage in systematic patriarchal oppression, Lyman has opted to support an artist who has manipulated the blind trust of his underage female fans for his own sexual gratification. He has given this artist the seal of approval and is willing to attach his name to the actions of Jake McElfresh. By allowing him to play today, Lyman is saying that, on balance, the more important aspect of McElfresh’s character is his ability to play shitty three minute songs as opposed to the active harms he has caused against others."

"Furthermore, this is a message from Lyman that he does not care about your behaviour, no matter how morally reprehensible it may be - you can still get on his stage, he will still look after you. Given the past 12 months and the constant awful behaviour we’ve seen, with multiple figures from the scene either being involved in sexual assault claims or engaging in victim-blaming, this serves to show that if young bands act that way, Lyman will still back them."

"The darkest thing about McElfresh playing Warped, however, isn’t just message based. His actions involved young female fans that he established contact with through shows and festivals: festivals like Warped Tour. Lyman is placing McElfresh straight back into a position where he has access to young girls and could easily start the cycle once again. Whether or not he does, I find it both disgusting and dangerous hat Kevin Lyman is willing to put the young people who fund his festival, and his life, at risk when he knows fully what he is doing."

"It’s time that we stand up and say a resounding ‘fuck you’ to the Warped Tour and all that goes with it. Our mistakes last year came from trying to engage with and ask the likes of Kevin Lyman to change their actions and become fairer and more accepting. That’s never going to happen. Scene culture that goes hand-in-hand with Warped Tour 2015 is never going to change. It has no interest in changing because that would mean those in control would have to loosen their grip."

Taking this out from under the cut because, while it's long, people should really read this:
Jake's ex-girlfriend, Autumn, wrote a very long, very good blog post explaining the extent of her relationship with Jake and the things that she learned. As it's very long, I'm not going to pull too many pieces but one of the reasons why her statement is so important is that is it a first hand account of events. She said that she originally wanted to post it to try and prevent him getting on Warped. She says that Jake appearing on Warped was part of a deal that involved him going to treatment but he has not followed through on his part of the deal, hence her post. She also confirms that many of the alleged incidents with girls, including those that are/were underage, did happen and says that Jake showed concerning behavior (such as stalking) towards them as well as her.

This is disgusting and I hope that they remove him from the tour asap. I'm glad that other bands have/are possibly going to speak up about it.

Huge Source List:

Grey GordonDan CampbellKnuckle PuckHayleyConfirming PlayingSecuritySecurity 2Opening RemarksRemarksBullshitGolf CartHard workSpeaking OutHanding out infoOpen Forum

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