Toronto festival in jeopardy following promoter’s anti-Kesha Facebook post

After two bands and two venues pulled out of Hi-Fi Musical Adventure, the festival will now go on without its co-founder.

- Feb 29, 2016

UPDATE: Amanda Langton tells Billboard that Hi-Fi Musical Adventure is cancelled and the Silver Dollar and Old Laurel will take over the shows at their own bars. Some of the other shows will go on without the Hi-Fi name.

UPDATE #2: In a new Facebook post, Langton clarifies that the festival "as it was" is done, but the shows at Vinyl, Handlebar, Supermarket Silver Dollar and Old Laurel will still go on without the festival banner.

Hi everyone. Amanda here.You've no doubt heard about the goings on surrounding the festival and yes, the festival as...

Posted by Hi-Fi Musical Adventure on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Toronto promoter Anthony Dell'Orso landed his Hi-Fi Musical Adventure festival in hot water last week after comments he’d made online were reposted to a secret Facebook group for women in Toronto’s music scene (full disclosure: I am also a member of this group).

Dell'Orso co-founded Hi-Fi Musical Adventure, a three day, five venue, 60 band mini-festival running from March 10 to 12, with Amanda Langton. On Tuesday he made a public Facebook post, since deleted, on his personal page, which read: "Fuck Kesha. Talentless hack with a penchant for drama."

The post was repeated, and Dell'Orso named, by Desiree Das Gupta, vocalist in Toronto band Kaleidoscope Horse. Learning that his comments had been shared, Dell'Orso began sending harassing messages to at least two women via Facebook: Das Gupta, and Toronto drummer Jocelyn Conway, who unfriended Dell'Orso after learning about his comments.

After accusing Das Gupta of slander, Dell'Orso’s messages to Conway, who for her part repeatedly asked him to stop communicating with her, included memes, a Hillary Clinton reference, and a link to an article about Kesha’s 2011 statement, made, Kesha now claims, due to threats to her and her family, that producer Dr. Luke never drugged and raped her.

Word spread about Dell'Orso’s actions, and by the end of the week, two venues and at least two bands had backed out of Hi-Fi, and then he didn’t have a festival at all.

Desiree Das Gupta spoke to me about why she shared the original post to the secret group: “I'm trying to make career choices that reflect how I feel, and that includes who I associate with and who I support. I shared it because I didn't know a lot about the guy, I wanted to hear from other women if they thought it was an inappropriate comment and was hoping maybe someone would redeem him, really.”

Toronto band Specifics were the first Hi-Fi act to respond publically, writing: “We can no longer, in good conscience, be associated with an event that is also associated with someone who thinks these are fair, reasonable things to be doing.”

Unfortunately, we've decided not to play during Hi-Fi Musical Adventure on March 10. We've been made aware of a (now...

Posted by Specifics on Friday, February 26, 2016


It was followed by a similar post by Toronto band Sandy Pearlman and Bones, who also announced they would be pulling out of the festival.

We regret to announce that we will no longer be performing at the Hi-Fi Musical Adventure on March 11th. We made the...

Posted by Sandy Pearlman and Bones on Friday, February 26, 2016


Cristina Naccarato of Specifics explains her band’s decision: “When a dude in a scene acts in a way that perpetuates this mentality and thinks it's funny to not take women’s issues seriously, they need to be called out and held accountable."

Two of the venues involved with Hi-Fi, the Silver Dollar Room and the Old Laurel, began reaching out to bands playing their venue, asking them to keep the dates at their venues, but without the Hi-Fi name.

Michelle Puska, booker and sound tech of Old Laurel, explains: “I observed it coming up in discussions amongst females in the music industry, and saw how far it was reaching and becoming a bigger issue when no apologies were made.”

Dan Burke, booker/promoter at Silver Dollar and Old Laurel, tells me he respects Naccarato as an artist and was concerned when he heard she felt threatened. “This is too serious an issue to ignore,” he tells me, “we all have a responsibility to make stands against things that are wrong.”

“Venues most definitely have to make their spaces safe for women,” Puska furthers, “that goes as far as being mindful of what acts you're working with and being associated with.”

Explaining the motivation behind his messages to Das Gupta and Conway, Dell'Orso himself tells me: “I didn't attack anyone 'til after someone sent me that screen capture and my emotions got the best of me.”

Considering Conway a friend, he was also surprised that she took offense to his private messages: “I wouldn't address a stranger like that.”

This is too serious an issue to ignore. We all have a responsibility to make stands against things that are wrong.

Dan Burke, Silver Dollar
Conway, who repeatedly asked Dell'Orso to stop messaging her, didn’t view these messages as friendly: “I'm surprised that he could be so unprofessional,” she tells me. She also sees his original public post as indicative of a greater problem: “It's uninformed and inappropriate for him to call a woman confronting a male abuser 'dramatic.' By saying 'fuck Kesha' he is essentially saying 'I'm angry that this woman is speaking out'... As a woman, I would not want to work with him.”

In a climate where news about abusive behaviours by Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi, Dr. Luke, Heathcliff Berru, and now Michael Gira of Swans are appearing in headlines regularly, it’s no wonder that women — and men — in the entertainment industry are sharing information on community members.

Naccarato explains further frustrations when we talk about the Dell'Orso incidents: “Women in the music industry have to put up with misogynistic bullshit everyday. We have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously.

Dell'Orso, who has previously been a programmer and artist coordinator at Indie Week, hasn’t decided if he’ll issue an apology (it “depends what your article includes,” he tells me), but states, “it’s a sensitive issue, and everyone has the right to feel the way they do about what happened.”

As of this writing, Amanda Langton has taken over Hi-Fi Musical Adventure, so shows may be back on under the festival’s umbrella now that Dell'Orso has stepped down. “Anthony and I have parted ways,” Langton tells me, “and I’m going to do what I can to lessen the blow to the bands being affected by this – they have always been the priority. I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet.”

Burke and Puska plan to add a charity element to the shows at Silver Dollar and Old Laurel which has yet to be announced.

For now, the Silver Dollar event pages are listed without the Hi-Fi banner, including all-female Detroit act The Deadly Vipers on March 11, and a Sisters Of Your Sunshine Vapor gig on March 10 (these sisters appear to all be dudes).

Hi-Fi Musical Adventure has not yet issued any public statement aside from the comments in this article.

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