The industrial rock band Filter was slated to perform at Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso last week, however, the venue called-off the gig after the band posted an anti-Trump joke on Facebook to promote the show.
Ahead of the gig, vocalist Richard Patrick posted a short video to the band’s Facebook page which showed the group at soundcheck.
“This is sound check!” the post read. “We’re playing El Paso! Get here later and it will be packed! A lot of Trump bashing!” It went on to ask: “does anyone now Beto? Bring Beto!”, pointing to the former El Paso democratic representative Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, who used to play in a punk-rock band.
The show was reportedly cancelled because the venue told Filter they were receiving “threatening phone calls and bomb threats from Texans” because of the anti-Trump post. The band claims that their tour manager was woken up from a pre-show nap in the green room to 30 security guards and the general manager “shouting expletives and telling the band they were not welcome at the venue.”
“This is a dire emergency! This country is totally jacked up!” Patrick notes in a Facebook post. “This is my right to artistic expression. If they are going to tell me that I am un-American for saying that about the President, I’d ask them if they have been to Iraq or Afghanistan. I have been over there and love and respect the job that our troops are doing over there – fighting to ensure our rights to say what we like.
“As a matter of fact – I was asked recently what FILTER stands for and THIS IS IT – our freedom of expression!”
Speaking Rock Entertainment Center general manager Karl A. Maahs told Billboard that the band wanted the venue to post the upside-down American flag image as a video backdrop and “desecrate it with different markings and everything else,” but their staff “didn’t feel comfortable doing that.”
“We told him he could sing the songs, but we’re not gonna stop in the middle of the show, put an American flag upside-down and desecrate it so we could turn a rock show into a political rally,” Maahs said.
Additionally, they told Patrick it was “illegal” to display the flag upside down in their video, pointing to Title 4, US Code “The flag should never be displayed with union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”
Patrick said that he told the production manager they would not use the image of the flag upside down and he “swallowed his pride” because he really wanted to perform. However, after the Facebook post, “all hell broke loose.” He believes Maahs is “straight-up lying” about why they really cancelled the show.
“If you’re getting bomb threats, why wouldn’t you call the police, FBI or Homeland Security? I think he’s fully lying,” Patrick said.
Patrick told Billboard he is “gutted” that the show was cancelled, noting that the venue had the best sound and a great staff.
“This country is so polarized,” Patrick went on to say. “This isn’t the America that my family fought for. This is some guy trying to make a quick buck while he’s in the White House for a couple of years. Carl Bernstein said: ‘It’s not the first time that half of America has hated a president, but it’s the first president that’s hated half of America.’
“And I agree with him. And I think no matter what, people should be able to speak their minds. And you know what? You can serve your country without ever putting on a uniform by exercising your First Amendment rights.”
Currently, Patrick is working on a follow-up to the band’s 1995 debut record, Short Bus. The new LP, which he is working on with his original songwriting partner Brian Liesegang, is tentatively called ReBus.