Earlier this week, Paramore played two sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Gardens. Following the first night (May 30), footage of Hayley Williams kicking two fans out of the venue went viral.
The incident happened while the band were performing ‘Figure 8’, with the fans apparently pushing to get to the front of the venue. “What is happening?” asked Williams while the crowd pointed at two fans. “Yes, I will embarrass both of you. Both of you need to find somewhere else to take care of that shit because that’s not happening here tonight, this is our house,” she added as she kicked them out of the show.
— Andrew Harts (@AndrewHarts) May 31, 2023
However, Williams has now taken to the band’s discord to share a lengthy statement about how she reacted to the confrontation.
She started by saying she’s “really not proud” of the how events unfolded, before talking about how important it was to find a sense of “belonging” when she was younger, which is why she joined Paramore. “It makes a lot of sense now why I found my way into a type of music that was all about community. Joining a band was the best thing to ever happen to little me. I suppose the same is true for current me,” she wrote.
She went on to describe how, at MSG, the audience made her aware of two people causing a problem. “Without the opportunity for a proper back and forth (and with a looming, strict show-curfew in the back of my mind), I bared my teeth like a mother wolf,” Williams explained. “I embarrassed the hell out of these two people, without truly knowing what the situation was. Then, as a group – all 25,000 of us or so – exiled these people from the show in record time.”
Williams went on to say how she didn’t process the events for several days and, after watching footage back, revealed that it “didn’t look like the fight I thought I was stopping”.
“I have not been able to shake the feeling that I abused my responsibility and my platform in that moment [and] that I hurt those two in a way that will outlast the momentary discomfort of their poor concert etiquette.”
“I do think it’s a worthy cause to set firm boundaries for how we want the environment at our shows to feel [and] maybe those two weren’t gonna get it any other way. But we should all try to imagine getting ridiculed and kicked out of a show in front of 10’s of thousands of people,” she said. “When I saw their faces in the video, I didn’t see the smug smiles that some commenters criticised them for. I saw embarrassment and I cried for them. I’m telling you, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.”
Williams went on to apologise for “whatever shame or embarrassment I may have caused you” but added that there’s no space for ignorance or entitlement at a Paramore show. “I’m sorry that I handled the whole situation like the arbiter of the same type of cancel culture that doesn’t often teach or lead in any productive way,” she continued.
“Does anyone really learn from the kind of public shaming I gave the 2 I had kicked out from the show that night? I don’t know but I don’t think so. And that really gives me a lot to think about in terms of our culture at large,” Williams added.
a message from hayley on the discord regarding the situation at MSG Night One pic.twitter.com/m2T87UQ3Iu
— jen (@YELYAHG00N) June 3, 2023
“If you’re coming to a show on this tour I am practically on my knees typing, begging you to be open to the idea that every person at your show needs it as much as you do.”
“I don’t want us to have to stop a show for physical aggression ever again. Rest assured, I will still have a person removed if necessary. I’ll just try with all my heart not to make it seem like some biblical era public execution next time.”
While playing at a festival last weekend, Williams told the crowd: “I’m very fucking comfortable talking politics, and if you vote for [Republican presidential candidate] Ron DeSantis, you’re fucking dead to me.”
Reflecting on the incident in her Discord statement, Williams said: “I hate that the only thing I really know to say to people I deem racist or bigoted in any way is ‘you’re dead to me’ when I know that message isn’t the kind that’s going to change a hateful heart.“