This one hasn’t actually been getting quite as much attention as I thought it would, I guess because everyone was too busy talking about how pleased they were that motherfucking P. Diddy showed up at SXSW or whatever, but during legendary punk band Screaching Weasel’s own SXSW performance at the Scoot Inn & Bier Garten on Friday, frontman Ben Weasel was involved in an ugly altercation that started when a woman near the stage reportedly threw an ice cube at him. Weasel, real name Foster, angrily leapt off the stage and unleashed a wild right-hand punch that clearly, frighteningly, landed squarely on her face. A second woman, reportedly the owner of the venue, quickly stepped in, and then Weasel punched her, too—first in the chest, and then in the side. There is video, of course, and it’s incredibly hard to watch.
The details and backstory are meaningless, obviously, but Weasel was apparently in a foul mood before the show even started, carrying on like a juvenile malcontent in an interview with Aux.TV about his distaste for the festival. “I’m embarrassed to be playing it,” he said, “I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this debacle. It’s a paid vacation for rock critics and industry hacks and we’re the suckers who provide the free entertainment.” He took his dopey schtick to Twitter, too. “I’m about to go play for free for douchey rock critics” was one of my favorites, but there’s plenty of ’em to sort through.
On Sunday, two days after everything went down, Weasel issued an apology via his website, and he mostly comes off like a disgruntled 8-year-old whose parents made him say he was sorry for, like, tripping his younger sister or something. Crazy thing is, and I don’t know if there are legal concerns here or what, but he makes no specific mention of the fact that he was viciously pounding on two women, saying only that he’s sorry “for [his] actions.” And most frustratingly of all, he still seems somewhat bent on letting everyone know he was provoked, albeit with, you know, a fucking ice cube. “Whatever my feelings are about fans crossing the line like that,” he says, I wish I could have that moment back and deal with it in the same spirit as I did the preceding 60 minutes.”
The band cancelled its scheduled performance in San Antonio on Saturday, and there’s not yet been word about their next show, April 7, in Philadelphia. One hopes this story gets a bit more play from some of the bigger music news outlets, and also that the next generation of kids who might be turned on to the many classic pop-punk records Weasel has admittedly been responsible for will place their allegiance elsewhere. May I suggest the Bouncing Souls?