Front Porch Step Steps Down
Front Porch Step Steps Down
by Jess Swarner
For fans of the Vans Warped Tour, winters are usually filled with an exciting flurry of band announcements and speculations about the headlining acts. This year, however, many are concerned about the alleged sexual harassment carried out by one of last year’s acts and whether or not he will be allowed to participate in the tour again.
Late last fall, rumors began swirling online that Front Porch Step, a Boston one-man punk acoustic act named Jake Mcelfresh, had been involved in inappropriate relationships with female minors. Mcelfresh met several of these girls at his shows and interacted with them at different stops on the 2014 Warped Tour. Girls who accused Mcelfresh of sending them illicit text messages and sexual pictures began posting their stories on the blogging platform Tumblr. Most allegations were small paragraphs claiming that Mcelfresh had texted them and asked for nudes, but at least one lengthy, well-documented story exists that involves screenshots of text messages and pictures.
As 2014 ended, a petition appeared on Change.org calling for Front Porch Step to be removed from the 2015 Warped Tour lineup, reaching 9000 signatures in just a few days. Word reached Kevin Lyman, the founder of Warped Tour, who tweeted that the claims against Front Porch Step would be thoroughly investigated and handled in due time. The buzz surrounding these stories grew so big that Mcelfresh tweeted that he was aware of the allegations and would work to address them and that he was “so sorry this happened.” He has not posted anything new on Twitter since making that statement in December.
A few days into the new year, Front Porch Step cancelled its spring tour, forcing scheduled opening bands Have Mercy, Alcoa, and Head North to reconfigure their upcoming months. Soon after, singer/songwriter Allison Weiss announced that she would not be touring with Front Porch Step in the UK that month. And, Lyman told bands to stop asking him if they could take Front Porch Step’s place on the 2015 Warped Tour lineup, evidence that many already doubt Mcelfresh’s appearance.
We expect to see music magazine Alternative Press continue to update the case since they have been the publication most closely following the story. If the allegations against Mcelfresh are found to be true, Lyman and Warped Tour staff will have to make choices with important consequences for the festival, especially regarding girls’ safety. Would they bar Mcelfresh from appearing on just this summer’s Warped Tour, or future tours as well? And would he ever gain back enough trust to headline an independent tour again?
Hopefully after watching a year of scandals in other industries result in faulty investigations and inadequate punishments, we will finally see a case properly handled and justice served.
Two of the Tumblr accounts containing accusations: