- Ebru Yildiz
- PWR BTTM member Ben Hopkins (right) has been accused of sexual assault.
The change, said Duck Club Presents co-founder and Treefort Music Fest Festival Director Eric Gilbert, was to sync Neurolux with the gender-nonconforming band's inclusive message and make fans feel welcome. Now, PWR BTTM is in free fall after a Facebook post accusing band member Ben Hopkins of being a "known sexual predator."
PWR BTTM's meteoric rise ended abruptly on May 10, two days before the scheduled release of the band's sophomore album, Pageant (Polyvinyl Record Co., Big Scary Monsters Recording Co.) when the accusations against Hopkins went viral.
Additional accounts of Hopkins' behavior surfaced, and Raleigh, N.C.-based Hopscotch Music Festival nixed PWR BTTM from its lineup, associated acts cut ties and, by May 16, PWR BTTM's record label asked that the band's music to be removed from streaming services and digital stores like iTunes.
"It's disappointing to the community at large," said Gilbert, who booked PWR BTTM for its 2016 Boise performance.
In an open letter posted May 11 on Twitter, @PWRBTTMBAND responded to the allegations.
Contributing to the swift, overwhelming backlash was the degree to which PWR BTTM has embraced empowerment and consent, making efforts—like gender-neutral bathrooms at shows—to provide a safe place for fans. As the Village Voice wrote on May 17, "Hopkins' alleged abuses are directly at odds with these values."
"What's interesting is, [because of] how they were positioned in the industry, their fan base was sensitive to this subject," Gilbert said.
The sense of betrayal from fans underscores the idea that it's hard to ever really know a person—much less a band. That can present problems for those who book and promote shows. Watching the rapid retreat from PWR BTTM, Gilbert said, "There's only so much you can vet a band or a human being," adding neither Treefort nor Duck Club have booted a band for content or its members' behavior.
However, negative experiences have led to Gilbert deciding to not re-book a band.
"Sometimes, that's just because they're being a dick," he said.