Calls for Arcade Fire show refunds after frontman accused of sexual misconduct

·3 min read
Win Butler, lead singer of Arcade Fire, is facing four sexual misconduct allegations. (Amy Harris/Invision/AP - image credit)
Win Butler, lead singer of Arcade Fire, is facing four sexual misconduct allegations. (Amy Harris/Invision/AP - image credit)

WARNING: This article contains content about sexual assault and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

A leader in Montreal's music industry says concertgoers upset by allegations of sexual misconduct against Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler should be allowed to get a refund for the band's upcoming world tour.

The allegations, reported by music news publication Pitchfork, were made by four people against Butler. CBC could not independently verify the allegations as reported by Pitchfork.

One person alleges Butler sexually assaulted them twice when they were 21 and he was 34. Three women accuse Butler of sexual misconduct between 2016 and 2020. The women were between the ages of 18 and 23 while Butler was between 36 and 39 years old.

The allegations range from unsolicited sexual text messages and photos, to forceful touching. The people told Pitchfork the alleged interactions were inappropriate based on age gaps and uneven power dynamics, and they felt they couldn't say no to Butler.

In a statement, Butler denied the allegations and said all encounters were consensual and he never touched a woman against her will. 

He apologized for "the pain I caused" and for not being "more aware and tuned in to the effect I have on people."

He also described dealing with depression and alcohol use when the alleged incidents took place, after his family experienced a miscarriage.

"I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud," said the statement. 

"Most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise."

So far, the band's world tour, due to kick off Tuesday in Dublin, is going ahead as planned.

"Whether they should cancel the tour or not, I think there has to be accountability," said Daniel Seligman, the creative director of the POP Montreal music festival.

The allegations against Butler prompted outcry over the weekend, with people on social media demanding refunds or the cancellation of the tour.

'Toxic' music industry culture shifting

Seligman, who has been part of the Montreal music scene for more than a decade, worked with Arcade Fire several times and said there's a history of toxicity within the industry. He described the allegations as a "wake-up call."

"The kind of cliché of a rockstar sleeping with a groupie, I think we know a lot more about how those power dynamics work and hopefully he has a realization that he can't do that," said Seligman. 

"There's a lot of enabling in this world," said Seligman. "There's people around that allow it to happen, which is upsetting."

Seligman last worked with Arcade Fire at the POP vs. Jock charity basketball game in 2016, where Butler met one of the women who has alleged sexual misconduct. 

He said Butler was disrespectful to POP Montreal staff members — many of whom said they would not work with the band again — and requested the non-profit pay for his expenses related to the event.

"That was not a great experience and to learn that he used that event to kind of prey on a younger woman was difficult to read. It was upsetting for sure," said Seligman.

CARAS/iPhoto
CARAS/iPhoto

Butler's wife and bandmate, Régine Chassagne, also put out a statement in support of her husband.

"I know what is in his heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did," Chassagne said in the statement. "He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together."

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.