Earlier this week, the onstage dispute between Vital Remains’ vocalist Brian Werner and a club owner at The Haven in Orlando went viral. It’s easy to see why. Upon seeing a cross hanging at the venue above the stage, Werner removed it, which prompted the club owner to rush to the stage and grab the cross. While it seemed like that was it and it was over, the woman allegedly didn’t leave the stage until the show ended. Werner shared his thoughts about the incident with Metal Sucks, and from what he says, it doesn’t seem like an isolated incident:
“In regards to the cross incident that happened at The Haven in Orlando I feel as though there was much misinformation floating around that I felt the need to respond. First of all this wasn’t planned, this was a small club show and wasn’t done as some sort of publicity stunt, honestly I didn’t think this would have blown up as much as it did, I figured the incident was over once the show was ended.
“First of all I meant no disrespect to the club, that was never my intention. I was simply going to hold it in front of the crowd, make a joke about it, put it on the drum riser, continue the show, then replace it after we performed. My religious proclivities are quite well known and to be asked to perform under that symbol I find grossly offensive. I didn’t even notice it before the show because I was at the hotel trying to recover form being in the emergency the night before, I didn’t notice it until I was on stage. What if this would have been a Christian band that was asked to perform under a Baphomet or inverted cross? Their protest would be completely validated so why is it different when the roles are reversed? How about respect for us and our beliefs? More importantly how about the respect of our fans (who clearly agreed with us by their FUCK JESUS chants) that choose to buy tickets to see our performance because they know who we are and what we’re about? How about their right to not have the show disrepected and interrupted by a woman charging the stage screaming at them and refusing to leave the stage? Besides this is not the first time she has done this, I remember she stormed the stage during another bands set (Catch Rag) and unplugged their amps in mid performance and threw them out. My inbox has been blowing up from other bands that have had similiar experiences with her, so this wasn’t an isolated incident, it’s a pattern of behavior. Besides if she is so Christian then why were there flyers for ‘Thy Antichrist’ plastered all over the club? Clearly it’s a blatant hypocrisy to stand on a religious soap box while inviting bands like these into their club to pay her bills as long as the fans spend their hard earned money there.
“After the show I was physically ejected by security and they told the fans they were not allowed to purchase merchandise, that didn’t stop us I set up merch right outside. She then punched our new guitarist (who had nothing to do with the situation at all) in the back while he was loading gear. Not that is was threatening at all, but the fact that she was willing to take it to a physical level just shows her level of immaturity and unprofessionalism, not ours.
“In closing was this whole incident stupid? Obviously it was. I meant no disrespect to the club or the promoter, I was simply going to take it down, make a joke out of it and replace it once the show was over. Apparently that was to much to ask from some people who don’t understand the very basic liberty of free speech and religion. Yes there is a time and a place for free speech but if you can’t express your free speech and thought through art then where can you?”
The thing is, The Haven have every right to choose not to book an artist whose beliefs they don’t agree with. That doesn’t make it particularly fair, but it’s within their jurisdiction to do that. The Haven appear not to have done their homework about who they have playing the club, however. A simple Google search would reveal that Werner is a high priest in the Satanic Temple. It seems like they’re perfectly ok with a Satanic band playing, as long as they don’t mention their beliefs. Combine that with the woman assaulting the band, security removing them from the venue, and her disrupting the show, and you’ve got a situation. Perhaps satanic bands might want to avoid the Haven in the future?