Insert Foot: Arcade Fire fans need information, because they have decisions to make

Arcade Fire, Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, William Butler,

Win Butler performs with Arcade Fire during Live 105’s Not So Silent Night concert at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Dec. 7, 2013. Roman Gokhman/STAFF.

I realize life gets confusing, especially when it comes to right and wrong these past few years while Mango Mussolini was flipping the Oval Office and our country’s values upside down.


Rendering: Adam Pardee/STAFF.

There are new sexual misconduct allegations against Win Butler, the singer of a popular – and very good – Canadian band The Arcade Fire. I mention they’re good, because people who like someone’s work are more apt to forgive them. They want to keep liking, and buying, what they’re selling.

Like fascism, for example. The Fruit Fascist apparently changed how we look at sexual misconduct, as you can now basically admit it and still get a good job, at least to half the country. The other half now won’t give you a job if you accidentally admit to once leaning in to kiss your date goodnight without producing signed and notarized documents from three witnesses swearing both sides equally consented.

So, can, and should, Arcade Fire still make a living?

Pitchfork broke news of the allegations on Saturday that frontman Win Butler, allegedly (that’s the keyword) was sexually inappropriate with four people.

Three women, who said they were “devoted” fans of the band, alleged the misconduct happened between 2016 and 2020 when they were between the ages of 18 and 23 and Butler was between 36 and 39. A fourth accuser identifying as gender-fluid said Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015, when they were 21 and he was 34.

Some radio stations have reacted by not playing the band anymore (or as much). Feist reacted by dropping off their current tour as Arcade Fire’s opening act. Supporting act Beck hasn’t quit, as of Saturday evening.

So let the questions fly:

What was the misconduct? Why does it matter the victims were fans? Was Butler cheating on his wife, bandmate Régine Chassagne, or did she approve? Do we need to cancel Arcade Fire now? How does this affect us?

The last one is easy: Because suddenly our chances of seeing and hearing Arcade Fire just got smaller, right or wrong.

This he become more commonplace. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about allegations of abuse against a very popular musician.

The backlash, rightfully, reignited the women’s rights movement while, somehow, also galvanizing the stubborn, white-person, don’t-tell-me-who-I-can’t-treat-like-my-property voters. Gary Hart is 85 and still furiously rocking back and forth on a porch, pissed.

Our values changed and by “changed,” I mean they retreated to the most opposite of ideological corners to give themselves more room to lob rhetorical rockets at each other. Butler and Chassagne reportedly have an open marriage, which is their right. That’s not the issue.

Arcade Fire fans have a right to know what happened because they are literally invested. Like it or not, we need some information as to whether we will continue buying Arcade Fire oven mitts and action figures.

Butler, 42, has been married to Chassagne since 2003. He has denied the allegations and told Pitchfork he had “consensual relationships outside of my marriage.” Butler also described the marriage as “unconventional” and Chassagne said he would never touch a woman without her consent.

In a separate statement, Butler also acknowledged a history of depression and drinking. In case you think that matters.

We do not yet know much about the accusers and their accounts of what happened. So the jury (the fans) can’t really come to any fair conclusions yet. That won’t really stop anyone, but still.

What people don’t get about these arguments about so-called canceling someone is that we weren’t there, there’s usually two sides, and you can only make up your own mind. Unless there’s a wealth of information by which to make a decision over turning away from an artist you like, it’s perfectly fine for members of a jury to try convincing each other of someone’s guilt or innocence.

But they have to go through the trial first.

Follow music critic Tony Hicks at

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *