Barrie backstage VIP meet-and-greet
Barrie backstage VIP meet-and-greet

Fans Stand Tall Behind Hedley: Weekend Concerts SRO

Unsubstantiated allegations against Hedley have led to abandonment by their opening acts, management firm, booking agency, the Juno Awards and as many as 150 radio stations–but concerts over the last three nights in Brandon, Barrie and Ottawa had the band’s fans turning out in droves to show solidarity, and more than a few brandishing hashtag cards reading “# I stand with Hedley.”

Friday night at the 7K-capacity Westman Place in Brandon, Susanne Fayant told the Winnipeg Free Press that she was "broken-hearted" after hearing the allegations, but said unless charges were laid, the band should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"It’s social media," she said. "How much can you believe on social media?"

"It’s not going to hurt our enjoyment of the show," said Kelly Madsen, who came to see Hedley for the first time with her family.

Madsen said, while she could see both sides of the issue, she didn’t know if the accusations were true or not.

Her daughter Mikayla also said the allegations wouldn’t ruin her time there. "If they did, they did," she said, "if they didn’t, they didn’t."

On Saturday at the 4K-capacity Molson Centre in Barrie, Hedley was joined by Toronto four-piece pop act Liteyears. Two members of Liteyears told CBC News they were not doing media and would not say whether they would be joining Hedley for the rest of the tour.

Nearly every seat in the arena was full and there were few signs of the controversy. Even fewer wanted to talk about it.

Those who did stood by the band.

"Whether or not it's true, they already admitted they have a rock star lifestyle [so] whatever," said Erin Power, who travelled over 100 km from Lindsay for the concert.

The same was true last night as thousands of fans turned out Tuesday to support Hedley who played at the capital city’s 9K+capacity TD Place.

Fans like Brittany Mort are supporting the band throughout the controversy.

“In 2018 you’re not innocent until proven guilty by social media and that’s not how it should be,” she said.

In a statement released Monday, the band said it wouldn't be cancelling the shows it has booked through March 23 because "the easy thing to do would be to cancel the tour and hide."

"We want to ensure that everyone understands our collective commitment to change, and to do better, is real. Saying a rock 'n' roll lifestyle was to blame -- or saying certain things happened because we were younger -- isn't good enough. We owe it to our families, our crew, our friends -- and most of all, our fans -- to do and be better," the statement reads, adding that the band will be saying more "in the coming days."

In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday and purportedly shot at Hedley's concert Friday night in Brandon., Hoggard thanked the crowd for "believing in us."

"Thank you for sticking with us through the good times and the bad, the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, you've been there and that's the only reason why we're still here," Hoggard said.

"Thank you for your support, thank you for your love, we need it and it means the world to us."

After the Juno organizers decided to pull the band from its performance slot on the March 24 telecast, Hedley has withdrawn its nominations in the Group, Pop Album and the Fan Choice categories.

As a unit, they said they did not "wish to be a distraction at Canadian music's biggest night" as they continue to face anonymous allegations of sexual impropriety that have been posted by social media users.

A statement posted Sunday on the CARAS website (the official organizing arm of the Junos) asserts that the band’s withdrawal from the awards will not affect ballots.

“With Hedley’s recent decision to withdraw their nominations for the 2018 Juno Awards, the band has been removed from the ballots for Juno Fan Choice (presented by TD), Group of the Year (presented with Apple Music) and Pop Album of the Year. As voting on these categories began on February 9, no alternate nominee will be added to the ballots.”


You may also wish to read Lauren O'Neil's BlogTO post.

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