Members of Seattle indie music group Who Is She? expressed disappointment Monday at the Kraken implying that consumption of alcohol and unprofessional behavior led to a decision to “disinvite” them to play after last week’s first night of a planned three-game performance.
The three-member band played sets before and during Wednesday’s Kraken win over the Vancouver Canucks at Climate Pledge Arena. In one set, during the game’s second intermission, the band played a song with modified lyrics stating Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was “a total jerk” and responsible for shutting down local bookstores.
Amazon holds naming rights for the arena, and its CEO, Andy Jassy, is a minority Kraken owner.
After the group posted on social media about the Kraken disinviting them from “Jeff Bezos’ Climate Pledge Arena,” the team — which has paid for various “house bands” to perform pregame and during intermissions since last season — issued a statement:
“The Seattle Kraken welcomes a variety of artists to play at our games and we do not believe in censoring those artists, as is reflected by the variety of acts who perform at Climate Pledge Arena.
“However, we reserve the right to part ways early with an act if their behavior does not meet the professional standards we expect. We also must ensure that the act is appropriate for the family audience that attend our games.
“This decision was not related to the band’s choice of song. We require that our artists are professional, punctual and avoid consuming alcohol during their performance. As such, who is she? did not play the following two games. We wish you well.”
Who Is She? is comprised of Julia Shapiro, Bree McKenna and Robin Edwards from indie bands Tacocat, Chastity Belt and Lisa Prank and has a significant local following. A fourth musician, singer Emily Nokes of Tacocat, was also performing harmonies during the arena engagement.
All four musicians responded jointly in writing to questions by The Seattle Times on Monday, saying: “A Kraken employee pulled us aside after our second set where we played that song. That’s when they told us we weren’t welcome back. They didn’t give us any specific reason except that we ‘weren’t a good fit for hockey.’ When we asked if it was the Bezos line, they said “that didn’t help.”
They denied being intoxicated.
“We weren’t drunk, and saying that we were would be a lie,” they said. “We imagine that’s why the Kraken’s carefully worded PR statement only implies that we were rather than actually accusing us.
“We will admit, however, that after we were fired, we did drink the 5 Coors Lights we had previously avoided in the ‘green room’ fridge.”
The Bezos lyrics used that night were part of a modified version of the 1999 song “My My Metrocard” by Le Tigre, which had poked fun at then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The modified song played Wednesday was changed to a localized “My My Orca Card” with the Bezos lyrics added.
The lyrics stated:
a total jerk
all the bookstores
do not work
“Since it’s a cover song, our intent was to come up with a good couple lines to replace the 1999 Le Tigre lyrics to make it more specific to Seattle,” the group said. “Replacing Rudy Giuliani’s name with Jeff Bezos made sense to us and his arena seemed like a great place to say it. We thought it was funny and well-received. We doubt an actual billionaire — or anyone who is paid or sponsored by said billionaire — feels that 4 women playing a cover song that contained a tame joke is capable of doing any damage whatsoever.”
The group added: “We even cut out the few curse words from our set despite the fact that we were never asked to. I think something to keep in mind is that we were really excited to play these shows, practiced a ton leading up to them, changed some of our lyrics to be about hockey, invited friends, and a band member’s parents were flying in for the Saturday games.”
They said they’ve all been professional musicians for more than a decade, playing festivals from Bumbershoot to Coachella and touring the US, Europe and Australia. They’ve also played at Sounders games and Husky Stadium and added that last week “was one of the most off-putting experiences we’ve had.”
They said communication from Kraken staffers that night was “disorganized at best,” but they tried to roll with “changing expectations” where they could. They said their onstage persona is of “women who laugh a lot and like to have fun” and added that portraying that as inebriation or a lack of professionalism amounts to the type of “coded, sexist language” they’d dealt with earlier in their careers and thought they’d moved beyond.
They certainly aren’t laughing now.
“We’re not sure why anyone having a drink at a hockey game of all places would be such an issue in the first place,” they said, “but the fact that we truly weren’t inebriated, at all, just makes defending ourselves that much more exhausting.”