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NOFX, punk band, under fire for joking about Las Vegas shooting at local music fest

June 15, 2018 GMT

NOFX, a popular punk band, is facing backlash after its members made light of last year’s deadly Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting during an outdoor performance in Las Vegas over the weekend, mere miles from the site of the massacre.

Members of NOFX joked about the rampage during their set at the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival in downtown Las Vegas on Sunday, drawing rebuke from attendees, organizers and sponsors alike, and costing the band its slot at its own festival this weekend.

“We played a song about Muslims and we didn’t get shot, alright!” NOFX frontman “Fat” Mike Burkett said during their set.

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“I guess you only get shot in Vegas if you’re in a country band,” reacted NOFX guitarist Eric Melvin.

“I mean that sucked,” the singer said of the massacre, “but at least they were country fans and not punk rock fans.”

Audience members can be heard recoiling from the comments in video footage uploaded of the band’s set.

“Did I offend somebody?” Mr. Burkett asked the crowd afterwards. “I can’t [expletive] believe it.”

Indeed, organizers of the punk festival issued a statement afterwards condemning the band’s comments and apologizing to those affected.

“Las Vegas is home to the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival, and we do not condone the statements made from our stage on Sunday night. We take the safety of our festival goers seriously and want to relay that there is nothing funny about people being shot and murdered, ever,” the statement said.

Outage over the band’s comments continued Wednesday when Stone Brewing, a southern California beer company, said it would stop sponsoring the band’s upcoming Punk In Drublic festival tour and cease production of its “Punk In Drublic Hoppy Lager.”

“We at Stone Brewing are aware of NOFX’s insensitive and indefensible statements this past weekend. As a result, we are severing all our ties with NOFX, including festival sponsorship and the production of our collaboration beer,” the company said.

Proceeds from the lager will be donated to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation, Stone Brewing said.

“We apologize to the fans of the beer itself, but know that we make this decision out of respect to all,” the statement said. “Punk rock is cool. These callous comments were the furthest thing from it.”

Mr. Burkett addressed the outrage Thursday morning and said the band intended to issue an official statement apologizing for the remarks.

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“I can’t sleep, no one in my band can,” the singer said through his social media account. “What we said in Vegas was [expletive] and insensitive and we are all mortified at our remarks. So we decided we should all get together to discuss and prepare an in depth, sincere, and honest apology because that’s what the people we offended and hurt deserve.”

Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds injured on Oct. 1 when a gunman opened fire from a hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip overlooking the outdoor Route 91 Harvest Festival during a performance by country musician Jason Aldean and his band. The shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, committed suicide afterwards, according to authorities.

NOFX was formed in Los Angeles in 1983 and has released more than a dozen studio albums in the decades since. The band had been slated to perform in Ohio this Saturday when its Camp Punk in Drublic fest rolls through this weekend sans Stone Brewing’s support, but both NOFX and another group featuring Mr. Burkett, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, were replaced Thursday amid the backlash.

“While NOFX is known for their dark, uncomfortable humor, the festival producers of Camp Punk in Drublic are shocked and disappointed by the band’s recent statements about the Route 91 Harvest Festival victims and country music fans. These statements do not reflect the feelings or views of the Camp Punk in Drublic festival, its staff and its sponsors,” the festival organizers said in a statement.

Punk bands Descendents and The Vandals will perform in the group’s place, the statement said.

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