Square Room Resistance

Aside from a few late-night sets that started behind schedule, the only glitch during Big Ears was the last-minute change of venue for Saturday night’s show by Baltimore electronic duo Matmos. Originally scheduled for the Square Room, the set was moved to the Catalyst in the Old City after someone at the Square Room objected to a brief image of a nude man in a video to be displayed on a screen behind the stage during the show.

“Martin and I try not to take what we do too seriously, but we are serious about our work when the chips are down, and there was no question for us of altering our show to fit someone else’s standards,” wrote Drew Daniel of Matmos in an e-mail after the festival. “Sadly, this kind of resistance to a sexual minority ... confirmed the worst stereotypes about a bigoted, narrow, and, if I may be blunt, culturally retarded and backwards mindset that snobby coastal types tend to think pervades the Deep South; it was exactly the sort of thing that surely this festival, with its inclusive programming of Antony and other queer voices, so beautifully counteracted. But luckily, the owner of the Square Room does not speak for Knoxville.”

Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment says the move was unfortunate, but it turned out well in the end. “I have to take full responsibility for Matmos being booked to play the Square Room,” he wrote on Knox Blab on Tuesday. “In retrospect, I perhaps should have known better but I just didn’t think through it very well. I chose the Square Room because I think it’s a great space to hear live music and that it would be a great space for this show.... I stand behind [the Square Room’s] right, as a private business, to determine what they do and do not wish to present in their venue. Similarly, I also stand behind Matmos and their right as artists to present the work that they wish to present. In truth, this issue was quickly resolved and Matmos was able to present their show in front of a capacity crowd at the Catalyst...as well as participate in the Baltimore Round Robin later that evening. Things worked out well and everyone was happy.”

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Comments » 7

D3 writes:

I don't think the Square Room did anything wrong and I don't believe they acted out of homophobia.

PoyntKownterPoynt writes:

Shame on the Metro Pulse and writer Matthew Everett. If you are going to write an article then let’s be truthful with all the facts. Spinning the version of a story to create sensationalism is easy. You wrote that the venue was moved because "...someone at the Square Room objected to a brief image of a nude man in a video to be displayed on a screen..." Have you watched the entire video? (Easily found on You Tube) It times out at 3:32 where the "nude man" self pleasures himself more than 1/3 of the video. No less,it is very photographically descriptive and in my opinion, inappropriate for most general audiences. Let’s get real Matthew,or let's not play at all. The owners of any private business have equal rights to choose content. "Brief nudity" as you write is one thing; sexually graphic "public sex" images are another. I say, "Way to live up for your "Values" Square Room". The Truth always Prevails.

meverett writes:

The video posted on YouTube from a London performance—similar, by all accounts, to the one used during the Big Ears performance—is suggestive but not explicit. It's a potentially offensive sequence, but it's not, as far as I can tell, obscene or pornographic, making the description adequate.

MareoSpeedwagon1 writes:

But luckily, the owner of the Square Room does not speak for Knoxville.”

Thank you, owner of the Square Room, for not allowing some idiot to jerk off in your establishment, though it was "only on a screen" and not live. If I had went into your Square Room and saw that video on the stage, I would have walked out and never went back into your establishment. I do not go to the Carousel and I do not want to be influenced by that type of mentality. This is America and I think I should have the Government's guarenteed rights to choose the type of entertainment that I see and hear. There is a line between artistry and infringement. I choose not to watch someone jerking off on a stage in front of me and if it is being done in an establishment without a sign notifying me that the show would be X rated, I consider that an infringement of my right to choose.
Mathew Everett and Metro Pules owe Knoxville an apology to print that that type of infringement is OK. All of Good Old Knocksfull is not perverted.

Jay writes:

This was an all ages festival. I appreciate The Square Room not promoting that in front of the kids. Sexual acts on screen aren't really appropriate in that setting. MetroPulse seems to only tell part of the story here.


I've also heard they've kept bands from playing certain songs that they did not approve of. I find that disturbing. I've never been to a venue in Knoxville where the band was told that they can not play "this" song or "that" song. I hope this is just a rumor. If not, it's sad.

davakins writes:

It's more of an issue of taste, or lack of.
It sounded like some kid playing a video game. An annoying video game.

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