Threatin: band creates fake fanbase for tour attended by no one
One of the greatest art rock pranks of all time – or a hugely expensive exercise in vanity? That’s the question some music venues across the UK are wrestling with after US-based “band” Threatin came over to Europe to play a string of gigs in well-known venues – to absolutely nobody.
Jered Threatin, the creative force behind Threatin, had an online presence that suggested an active fanbase, and that his act had toured extensively in the US. Venues also appear to have been informed that large numbers of tickets had been pre-sold, which turned out to be untrue.
Venues on the tour included The Underworld in London, Trillians in Newcastle and the Exchange in Bristol. The Underworld posted publicly to Thretin’s Facebook page, saying “What happened to the 291 advanced ticket sales your agent said you’d sold? THREE PEOPLE turned up.”
Artists who have unwittingly been drawn into the story as support acts have been boasting about being part of the experience – Bristol-based artist Sasori, who also drums with the band Kamino, said on social media that he was “feeling pretty special, not everyone gets to say they played on the same bill as Threatin at his sellout show in Bristol”.
But the band themselves made a more serious point in a Facebook post, pointing out that Bristol’s Exchange venue was “fully staffed with two bouncers on the door expecting to deal with a queue”, and that the stunt “has done nothing but fleece several UK venues out of money and time that would be far better spent on genuine artists. People like this deserve to be outed for who they are. Or aren’t.”
As people began to become aware of the story over the weekend, there was briefly a glimmer of possibility that Jered Threatin’s rock star dream might come true. People began to say they would be going to the gigs out of curiosity – but sadly for the would-be rock star, the tour has seemingly now collapsed.
Sunday night’s scheduled Threatin appearance in Belfast was cancelled at the last minute, without explanation. The evening went ahead with appearances by the two support bands who had been arranged to appear locally. The venue said that the booking had been pre-paid by Threatin, and their social media manager couldn’t help having some fun at the band’s expense, tweeting “If you purchased tickets for tonight’s Threatin show, both of you can get refunds from the point of purchase”.
If you purchased tickets for tonight's Threatin show, both of you can get refunds from the point of purchase. pic.twitter.com/hR0FHHFR0L
— Belfast Empire (@belfastEmpire) November 11, 2018
According to another Facebook post, Threatin paid for the booking in cash at the Exchange in Bristol to reassure the venue so that the gig could continue when none of the people who bought the supposedly 180 advanced sold tickets pitched up. Reports now suggest that two of Threatin’s backing band for the live tour – the guitarist and drummer – have left the band.
Threatin’s Facebook page has now been deleted, alongside most of the artist’s website. He had amassed around 38,000 likes on the social media platform, but the suspicion now is that they were all paid for. While his official Twitter account has now been locked and made private, a fan club Twitter account is still active, and disputing the version of events being reported in the media. “Threatin rockin’ a soundcheck before the gig” is how they have responded to one image of the band performing in front of two people.
According to other social media posts, one person was spotted buying a Threatin T-shirt because they felt sorry for the band playing to just a couple of people.
Oh hey, that's me (Mel) and my keyboardist (Tim). 'Promoter' sent us free tix so we came. Actually bought a T-shirt b/c I felt bad they'd come so far to play to 2 people. Didn't know about all the fake stuff til the next day. Fab venue though. I'd never been and will come again. pic.twitter.com/kjN1SMda9O
— Aonia (@Aonia_Band) November 11, 2018
The extent to which Threatin had faked the act’s history have gradually become apparent the more and more people have looked into it. As well as the band itself, research by Vince Neilstein at the Metal Sucks website showed that the bookings appear to have originated with a faked promotion agency, StageRight Bookings, who boast of having many acts on their roster, none of which seem to exist except Threatin.
In addition, Threatin’s music has been released by “Superlative Music Recordings”, a record label whose website claims they have existed since 1964, even at one point trendily re-branding to SMR in the 1980s before returning to a fashionably retro look in the 21st century. The label doesn’t exist anywhere outside the logo appearing on Threatin products.
It’s this intense attention to detail which threatens to elevate the whole affair from the slightly tragic, to an absolute work of art. Yet, just at the moment when Jered Threatin could capitalise on this new-found interest, he has disappeared. Attempts to contact him have been futile.
The events have left a bitter taste with some though. Adam Gostick, drummer with The Unresolved who were booked to support Threatin in Birmingham told Discovered Magazine: “It really annoys me that someone is able to do this. As a band trying to get around and play gigs it’s difficult if promoters feel you have no pull. But then Threatin tours the UK and plays, and has no real following. It annoys me from a promoter point of view too, as I work with a small promotion company, so I know how hard it hits having night’s where nobody comes.”
Having parted with thousands of pounds to play to nobody in the UK, it seems though that there may be some hope for Threatin yet. With all the attention since the story broke, on Sunday someone uploaded a guitar cover version of the “hit single” Living Is Dying to YouTube, and someone else posted a vocal cover version, a sign that social media notoriety may ultimately bring the fame to Threatin that a fake tour could not.
Read more about this from the source.