Savages Call For Greater Disabled Access & Respect At Live Music Venues

7 September 2015 | 1:12 pm | Staff Writer

"Why this man wasn't accommodated when he arrived is beyond us and truly unacceptable"

Stalwart British post-punk/rock outfit Savages have taken to social media calling on live-music venue owners to step up their game with respect to ensuring adequate disabled access and space at their businesses after an experience with a fan in a wheelchair drove home the shortfall in standards for the band and their crew.

Speaking on Facebook early this morning (AEST), Savages members Jehnny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton recounted a story from their recent tour of the west coast of the United States, during which they performed at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. As the band explained in their post:

"During the show, our producer, Johnny Hostile, noticed a man in a wheelchair leaving the premises after one song. At first he thought maybe the man disliked the band or was just disappointed, but after a few minutes he realised he must have left because he couldn't see the show!

"The room was sold out and he was at the back, of course he couldn't see anything! Johnny ran outside to look for him, grabbed members of the venue's staff with him, and found the man waiting for his bus at the corner of the street. 'This is America right there my friend, they couldn't give a fuck about us!' the man said angrily — and rightly so.

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"But Johnny didn't give up. He explained that he was with the band and said he won't let this happen. He convinced him to come back and made him special guest of the band so he could watch the show next to the stage behind the monitor desk.

"So here is our message to all venues and everyone (in America and around the world): PLEASE MAKE SURE PEOPLE IN WHEELCHAIRS WHO PAID A FULL PRICE ARE ABLE TO WATCH THE SHOWS!!!"

Not wishing to single out the venue in San Fran, the band acknowledge that the Great American Music Hall is "a great venue", and they "had an amazing show there — but why this man wasn't accommodated when he arrived is beyond us and truly unacceptable".

As well-intentioned (and overdue) as such a push may be, the reality of live music — in the United Kingdom, particularly — is sufficiently challenging as to already be overloaded with urgent areas of attention. In fact, according to The Guardian, it'll be a miracle if there's a live music scene at all to benefit from any such positive changes, as a rise in noise complaints is presently threatening the country's £1.6 billion (about $3.5 billion) industry.

As The Guardian reports, new figures from UK music protection body the Music Venue Trust estimate that the number of live venues in London has almost halved — from 430 to 245 — in the past eight years, with large-scale redevelopments claiming several well-known venues including Princess Charlotte, Duchess Of York, JB's, Madame Jo Jo's, the Astoria, the Purple Turtle, the Stillery and many more, in diverse areas from Camden and Oxford Street to Southampton, Tunbridge Wells, Exeter, Hull and Manchester.

"The thing about rock music is that there needs to be a place for people to experiment, people to get up on a stage and try things out," Music Venue Trust patron and respected folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner told the paper. "The large successful acts of this world, Coldplay or Ed Sheeran or whoever, they didn’t pop fully formed into this world. These are skills and talents that have to be honed somewhere.

"If we’re careless about the places where this sort of culture can evolve, then it won’t exist. The only thing you will be left with at the top of the food chain is Simon Cowell."

You can see Savages' full post in relation to their experience at the Great American Music Hall below.


This August we traveled to the US West Coast for a small run of shows. We stopped at San Francisco to play the Great...

Posted by Savages on Sunday, September 6, 2015