He Said/They Said Gun Controversy In Pennsylvania

Reverb, a 1,300-capacity club in Reading, Pa., is defending itself and its staff in response to claims by alternative punk band GutterLIFE that a gun was pulled on the group by security at Nov. 11’s Shredsgiving show. The club released a statement saying the band was “completely out of control, causing a threat to the safety of a security guard, the promoter and potentially patrons” and that rather than brandishing a gun, the security guard merely showed his weapon and said he would call police.

The statement added that the venue supports the security guard’s belief that the situation “had escalated enough to show his weapon. … No physical harm or threat to actually use his weapon took place. This situation had absolutely nothing to do with a band being late. It had everything to do with the threats sent beforehand by the singer and the threats that continued when they showed up.”

The conflict that led to the incident outside Reverb apparently stemmed from a text message exchange between GutterLIFE vocalist Matthew Van Rossem and the show’s promoter, Cody Frain of Recovery Promotions, that got heated regarding load in times.

Reverb also provided a statement to Pollstar that was written by the security guard at the Shredsgiving Fest show. The guard claimed that Van Rossem smacked Frain’s hand when he tried to shake hands and ended up shoving the promoter.

“I stepped up and told [Van Rossem] to step back and calm down,” the security guard said. “He continued to say that we didn’t know where he was from. Where he was from they handle people and situations like this and that they would fuck us and the venue up. … Acting in defense of our patrons already in the building and trying to come in I exposed my weapon and told them that we would not be having any violence here tonight and they needed to take a step back. They were given the choice of calming down and playing the show, leaving or if they continued to be aggressive, that we could call the police and let them handle things. … At no point did I point my weapon at anyone nor would I.”

The band has another perspective on the matter. GutterLIFE’s tour manager, Alexis Nicole, posted a message on Facebook Nov. 12 that began by saying she was appalled that “people can type a statement that includes so. Many. Lies.”

Nicole acknowledged that Van Rossem and the promoter argued before the show, but said that “No one ever said we’re going to ‘fuck this club up.’… This is straight up bull.” She added, “No hands were laid on the promoter. No hands at all. … Matt would not shake hands with him. Why? Because he has us set up when we got there with security waiting for us because he was nervous we were going to do something to him for his attitude in his messages.”

She went on to say, “The gun was pulled when the promoter started smiling or laughing ( I couldn’t see) and Matt took off his hat and said don’t smile/laugh about this. Because that’s mockery. You have us set up with 3 security guards waiting for us and you’re going to stand there and laugh? Cmon dude. Then guess what. A gun was pulled. That’s the story. Full truth.”

The band made it clear that it doesn’t blame the venue, with a post on Facebook noting that GutterLIFE holds “no ill will towards Reverb or the owner. We were not personally addressed by any owners/founders of this venue. We are solely addressing the security guard or whomever it was that cocked their gun at us.”

The situation, which may or may not have been worthy of national interest, nonetheless caught the attention of various media outlets, with at least one party accusing the coverage of being sensational.

Although both Reverb and GutterLIFE continue to defend their stories, communication with both sides indicate the venue and the band wish to leave this incident in the past. Pollstar also reached out to the promoter for comment.