River Sounds director issues statement addressing “sexual harassment incidents” at festival

“You are weak. Your behaviour has no place in society. You're not welcome at my future events”

Ben Lewis, the director of Bellingen-based music festival River Sounds, has released a statement addressing incidents of sexual harassment he heard occurred at the festival’s inaugural edition.

River Sounds ran across the weekend of August 19-22 with a bill topped by Regurgitator, Baker Boy and Alex The Astronaut. In his statement issued last week (September 8), Lewis noted that the festival largely went ahead without a hitch, however incidents of misconduct were brought to his attention after its completion.

According to Lewis, “harassment came from men aged in their early 40s” towards “young females under the age of 18”.

Advertisement

“The actions of these lowlife scum ruined the festival experience for the youths they targeted,” he wrote, expressing sympathy towards “any individual impacted by this appalling behaviour”. The promoter went on to address the perpetrators themselves (as well as their apologists), writing that “if you think it’s OK to harass anyone in society, let alone sexually harass under-aged females, you are the lowest of the low”.

Lewis continued: “You are weak. Your behaviour has no place in society. You’re not welcome at my future events.”

Turning his attention towards bystanders and other punters that attend events like River Sounds, Lewis declared that “it’s time to stand up against the minority scum who continue to act in this way”.

“If you witness this shit, gather your friends and shut it down,” he wrote. “Everyone deserves to be safe, and to have the freedom to do whatever they choose.”

Lewis also apologised to Regurgitator, claiming that the band “received negative feedback about the looped video which played during their set, specifically [in regards to] the graphic of a cartoon figure urinating”. He explained that the clip “was supplied to River Sounds to play during the track ‘I Piss Alone’ – an amazing song which criticises toxic masculinity”, but was “never designed to be looped”.

Advertisement

He acknowledged that “it was River Sounds who looped the video (not Regurgitator), and in hindsight it was a poor choice”, and apologised to concertgoers who may have been offended by it.

Lewis’ statement came days after Raising Their Voices – an independent report and review of sexual harassment within the Australian music industry – was published. A summary of the report, which surveyed over 1,600 workers, found what it deems to be “unacceptable levels of sexual harm, sexual harassment and systemic discrimination in the contemporary music industry in Australia”.

For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in Australia, visit the Australian Government’s Respect service or 1800RESPECT.

Advertisement

TRENDING

Advertisement