FREMANTLE music icon Mojo’s is in crisis, with a swag of bands cancelling gigs and dozens of regulars vowing a boycott over the conduct of co-owner Andrew Ryan.
Last Friday night the North Freo bar posted a note on its Facebook page saying Mr Ryan, who books bands, would be “ceasing all operational duties … in light of recent events”.
“He has acknowledged that prior conduct has caused others to feel uncomfortable. He is taking time to reflect and better himself. Mojo’s will support him as he works through this,” the statement said.
But the latter line went down like a lead balloon, with several posters likening it to the Morrison government’s stumbling response to sexism within its ranks. Others said it didn’t go far enough and they wouldn’t return while Mr Ryan was still earning money from the venue.
Fellow owner Scott Bowman later tried to walk back the comment, saying the company was “trying to get across that we want to help positive actions occur”.
But that didn’t prevent a swag of bands pulling out, with the Herald noticing a similarity in sentiment which suggested an orchestrated campaign.
“We will no longer be playing at Mojo’s Bar on April 17th, as part of our single launch tour,” indi rockers Bloom posted on their own Facebook page on Wednesday while announcing a switch to Jack Rabbit Slims.
“We made the decision to cancel this show, as we want everyone to feel safe at the venues we play.”
Last Quokka postponed their April 10 gig to later this year: “We believe in creating a just and inclusive music community and we do not wish to hold this event if any of our friends and supporters would not feel comfortable attending.”
“It is essential to us that the evening is held in a welcoming, safe and inclusive setting that is enjoyable and comfortable for absolutely everybody,” Michael Dunstan posted of his venue change to milkbar in Inglewood.
The bar itself was due to be closed until yesterday (Friday April 9).
The Herald contacted Mr Bowman on Thursday afternoon for an update on Mojo’s position, but he said they were still working their way through: “We are actively trying to work out a solution, but until we have something concrete to announce, we can’t announce anything.”
The Herald spoke to a former staffer of Mr Ryan who’d assisted him in booking bands, and while not wanting to be named, said she’d never witnessed any poor behaviour and had been surprised by the vitriol aimed at him online.
We also contacted a couple of other music promoters and performers, but with discussion about potential defamation suits still fresh in the comments below Mojo’s initial statement, none wanted to go on the record.
The controversy also roped in community radio station RTRFM where Mr Ryan was a long-term presenter and his business Cool Perth Nights a sponsor, with the board and management posting that it was aware of the
“hurt, frustration and anger” and was not running sponsorship announcement for Mojo’s or Cool Perth Nights.