Sexual misconduct allegations swirling around Canadian pop band Hedley didn’t prevent many Manitoba fans from heading to see the band perform live at Brandon’s Keystone Centre on Friday night.
The allegations against the Juno award-winning band — comprising Jacob Hoggard, Dave Rosin, Tommy Mac and Jay Benison — gained mainstream attention earlier this week. A flurry of claims were made by anonymous users on Twitter who alleged inappropriate encounters with the band, which the band has called “unsubstantiated.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Many radio stations, including CBC, have stopped playing the band’s music since the allegations surfaced. On Wednesday, the Juno awards cancelled the band’s scheduled performance.
On Friday, the band’s management team, Watchdog Management and the Feldman Agency, announced their business relationships with the band was terminated effective immediately.
Carla Mortensen from Brandon ultimately decided she would still attend the Brandon concert with her niece — who is a young adult — as planned.
“One of the main things is that I do believe in the process of law, that you should be innocent until proven guilty,” Mortensen said in an interview on CBC Manitoba’s Up To Speed. “But I soul searched because there isn’t a really good mechanism for items such as this to go through that process.”
She said the allegations speak to the issue of how society deals with accusations of sexual misconduct in general.
“The pendulum against the victims was stuck for a really long time and now it’s been released and it’s swung, and maybe it’s swung too far. I don’t know,” she said.
“And this is what I’m really struggling with, is that has it gone too far where everybody is convicted the moment there’s an accusation? And we have to wait for the pendulum to come back and sort of give everybody due process.”
‘Innocent until proven guilty’
CBC News spoke to several fans outside the Keystone Centre in Brandon as they made their way to the concert.
Charlotte Grant said she and her daughter discussed the allegations after they came up on the news during the roughly half-hour drive to Brandon from their home in Souris, Man.
Charlotte Grant brought her daughter to see Hedley live on Friday. (Brett Purdy/CBC)
“We talked about that it was just allegations so far and they are innocent until proven guilty and … we’re not going to make judgment until then,” she said.
She said they’ll have another discussion if the allegations are proven.
“I think that it’s important for [my daughter] to know what is right and what is wrong, what her morals are, what good morals are and what bad morals are,” she said.
Kaie Thompson, 16, went to the concert Friday with her mom. (Brett Purdy/CBC)
Sandra Thompson and her daughter Kaie, 16, echoed that sentiment.
“Honestly, I just believe that they’re people saying what they want to say and we don’t know if it’s actually true or not. So until that’s true it doesn’t really affect me that much,” Kaie said.
“We try not to jump to conclusions when we hear rumours so we’re just going to have fun and enjoy the concert,” her mom said.
“I’m here with my daughter so I’m not too worried for her safety or things like that, but I just try to teach her right and hopefully things like this won’t affect her.”
Justin Nernberg of Russell, Man., drove roughly two hours to see the concert Friday. (Brett Purdy/CBC)
Justin Nernberg drove roughly two hours to Brandon from Russell, Man., to see the concert. He said he doesn’t believe the allegations are true.
“I think it’s people just trying to get their moment of fame,” he said. “Lot of that going around lately.”
He said he wasn’t sure what it would take for him to stop supporting the band.
“I don’t know. Nothing, really. They got good music, good attitude,” he said.
Matt Pentecost said he’s seen Hedley perform four times. (Brett Purdy/CBC)
Another fan, Matt Pentecost, said he’s seen Hedley live four times and has attended every concert they’ve played in Brandon.
“I like that they’re kind of an older band but they’re popular for all ages. … They seem down to earth, I guess. Saw them at the outdoor concert that Brandon held in January couple years back and they seemed like a good group of guys,” he said.
He said he’d like to see concrete evidence of the allegations before withdrawing his support for Hedley.
“I’ll be honest, I feel sorry for them. That’s the rock lifestyle, right? It was the same back in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, bands like the Beatles, Rolling Stones. I mean, now with social media, it’s just, everything’s made more aware of that kind of stuff,” he said.
“At the end of the day, they’re allegations, right? Nothing’s been proven. And I mean, I wouldn’t like people thinking that of me without rock-hard proof. I mean, I don’t know.
“It’s a hard topic, right?”
Band responds on Facebook
In a Facebook post from Wednesday, the band wrote members “respect and applaud” the #MeToo movement, and said those conversations are especially important in the music industry. The post called said the allegations are “simply unsubstantiated and have not been validated.”
“We realize the life of a touring band is an unconventional one. While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll clichés. However, there was always a line that we would never cross,” the post reads.