What better a day could you imagine than going to a free show at UCSB? The lineup included everything from the popular DP reggae band Rebelution to old-school hip-hop performers the Pharcyde and E-40. I was particularly excited about the Hawaiian band, Pepper, since I have never seen them perform live before. Lately, that seems to be the favorite band for my roommate and me. I appreciate bands with catchy beats, soulful voices and meaningful lyrics. Pepper sings about things most people can relate to in some aspect: infidelity, broken hearts, drinking and partying.
Their songs subjects range from tender to edgier topics of sexuality. I have heard Pepper described as having a Sublime sound with a mixture of ska, reggae, pop, rock and dancehall. With the voices of Kaleo Wassman, Bret Bollinger and drummer Yesod Williams, their sound is infectious and has a good time vibe. It is obvious I dig the band, so why the salty taste in my mouth after the performance?
I am pretty sure it has to do with the degradation of half of the population of students standing there enjoying the band’s music. I think it had to do with the crude and lewd comments the band made during their live show. I personally felt outraged standing there while they so casually demanded and dared women in the crowd to sit on a guy’s shoulders so they could see their titties.
As a few submissively drunk women in the crowd gleefully stood on shoulders to show the band and crowd their titties, I felt sad. Sad for complacent woman who obeyed, sad for the girls in the crowd who felt outraged yet had no way to voice their anger and sad for the singers on stage who decided to use their popularity and influence to whore out the women in the audience.
The most vulgar part of the performance was during the middle of the song “Give It Up.” Bret Bollinger acts out feeling a woman’s punani to see if she’s wet and then giving it a taste and a sniff. I’m sure to most of the guys and some girls, this sick description of a women’s sexuality was amusing – even funny to some – but in actuality, it represented an inaccurate portrayal of women as sex objects, available for the use and disposal of horny men. Even throughout their melodic songs, I was reminded of their anti-feminist opinions by the band and crowd holding up their hands to form a diamond shape above their heads, symbolizing a women’s vagina.
Clearly their song content is not innocent and does have edgy subject matter. However, there was a line that was crossed which demoralized the women of the audience. I personally think performers need to take more responsibility for the messages they are sending to the public. It is irresponsible to send out hateful and hurtful ideas for the fans to absorb.
I have a strong inclination that if the performers were yelling out racist remarks, it would not have been tolerated. For example, if they were to have singled out the African-American community by yelling bigoted comments at the crowd, I firmly believe their actions would have not been accepted by blacks or by any other audience member.
So why don’t we treat this issue with the same sensitivity and concern? Why is the indignity of women entertaining and enjoyed? Just because we as listeners are at the receiving end of the music does not mean we have to accept or ignore inexcusable behavior. Thank you, Pepper, for a great show – kind of.
Hadar Feingold is a third-year communication major.