Guitarist Walks Off Stage To Stand Up For Woman In The Crowd

by Christina Marfice
Image via Instagram

Concerts should be safe spaces, and Circa Survive’s Brendan Ekstrom is making sure his are

As an involved member of my local music community, I can attest that there’s little worse than being really into a good show, only to be interrupted by getting felt up or hit on by someone in the crowd. Unwanted attention from men is violating for all women in any setting, but it can be especially disheartening at a concert, since it distracts from the real reason we’re there: to immerse ourselves in music.

Increasingly though, musicians are becoming advocates for the safety of their fans at their shows. Circa Survive’s Brendan Ekstrom is one of those.

Circa Survive played in St. Louis, Missouri, this week, but fans — and the rest of the band — were confused when Ekstrom stopped playing and walked off the stage in the middle of a song. He wasn’t gone long, and when he returned to the stage, he picked up his guitar and started playing again. The band finished the show without any further incident, but fans were understandably still confused about what had happened.

In a tweet thread the following day, Ekstrom explained.

“Quick note to those who were at the show last night. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve never walked of stage during a song before,” he wrote. “For almost a whole song I watched a guy stand a row behind a girl flirting and then trying to kiss her. It was hard to tell what was really happening. At times she seemed ok with his advances but after the second time of watching her push his face and hands away and try to turn back to watch the show I asked the security guard to go check on them. He couldn’t see what I was pointing to and it was still happening I left the stage and walked straight for them, my mind an emotional blur. Security followed me.”

Ekstrom says, “The man seemed dumbfounded when I showed up as if nothing was wrong. I don’t know what happened after. I went back to stage to finish the show. Security took it from there. I didn’t see them again after that. Maybe they were removed or just moved. Maybe they were in a relationship. Maybe they weren’t. Regardless what I saw from stage was disturbing to me and completely removed me from the mindset I need to be on stage. It wasn’t cute. It was alarming. I’m almost forty and flirting doesn’t look like that. Maybe It’s that I have a daughter or that I’m older.”

“I really don’t know but it made me furious to watch a girl forcibly remove someone’s hands from her body multiple times,” he writes. “I still don’t feel great about how I handled this situation. I borderline blacked out in some weird rage mode. It makes me nervous to think about how I would handle situations like this in the future especially if it was with someone I knew or cared about especially if it is my daughter. I don’t really know what to say about it all. I’m sorry to my band for not communicating the situation better and leaving them standing on stage confused. And I’m sorry to fans who were equally confused and saw a bit of an unusual show.”

We still don’t know for sure what happened at Circa Survive’s show, but we do know this: Ekstrom was uncomfortable about what he was seeing, so he stepped in to make sure the woman in question was OK. We hope she was, and if that man was touching her without her consent, we hope the venue’s security personnel appropriately handled the situation. No woman deserves to feel unsafe in any setting, and we’re glad Ekstrom was willing to step up and make sure his concert was a safe space for all fans.