On Saturday, more than 3,000 people attended That Damn Show, a full day of performances by rock and punk bands like Bad Religion, Tiger Army, and The Faint at Mesa Amphitheatre.
But according to several attendees, the outdoor concert -- which was co-promoted by New Times and local online alt-rock radio station KUKQ -- also hosted an Arizona vendor whose T-shirts appear to feature white supremacist and Nazi-like iconography.
Tucson-based clothing company and screen-printer Vitality Ink (which also does business as Hardcore Teez) was one of several local vendors doing business at the event. The company's website and Tumblr say variously that its clothes and art represent "all aspects [of] riding as well as the bad boys and dirty girl" and the "extreme lifestyle." Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez also creates and sells apparel and artwork with Dia de los Muertos-style imagery.
In the hours following That Damn Show, a number of concertgoers shared photos on Facebook of the company's vendor trailer -- particularly shirts it was selling at the event that attendees construed to be racist or white supremacist in nature. The photos (posted here and here) focus on several T-shirts using the phrases "White Boy" and "Support Your Local White Boy," as well as shirts featuring the Confederate flag. Another blurrier image purportedly shows a Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez shirt depicting what appears to be modified version of the Nazi Reichsadler (or coat of arms) featuring an Iron Eagle, albeit without a swastika.
New Times called the Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez store in Tucson for comment on the Facebook photos depicting shirts sold at That Damn Show and featured on their Tumblr. A female employee who refused to give her name said that the "White Boy" T-shirts the company sells are not affiliated with racism or the white supremacist movement.
"Nowhere do [the shirts] say 'white supremacists,'" she says. "All they say is 'White Boy.' I guess people can take it the way they want, but our shirts are not white supremacist."
She also stated that Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez's owner, whom she didn't name, is "definitely not part of that movement or related at all to that movement," nor are any of the other employees at the store.
A Google search for "Support Your Local White Boy" reveals the phrase has been used in conjunction with Nazi symbols and iconography, such as the SS symbol, on T-shirts, clothing, and ephemera sold by white supremacists.
None of the shirts Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez sold at That Damn Show appear to have combined that phrase with any such explicitly racist or Nazi imagery. But the Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez Tumblr account features a "Support Your Local White Boy" shirt that did include references to Neo-Nazi and skinhead culture -- including the terms "1488" and "Peckerwood" -- as well as another shirt depicting the Iron Eagle from the Reichsadler.
When asked about the Reichsadler and Confederate imagery on the shirts in the Facebook photos taken at That Damn Show, the Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez employee reiterated her earlier statements. "Regardless of what our T-shirts say, we are not affiliated with that movement at all."
So who booked Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez's vendor gig at That Damn Show? New Times publisher Kurtis Barton stated in an e-mail on Monday that the paper's marketing and retail advertising departments, which co-promoted the event with KUKQ, were not involved.
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"That particular vendor was sold, booked, and vetted by KUKQ," Barton stated.
On Facebook early Monday morning, KUKQ disc jockey Craven Moorehead posted that he was unsure which company had given Vitality Ink/Hardcore Teez the green light to vend at That Damn Show. He also apologized on KUKQ's behalf, stating that it was "really embarrassing" and the result of a "small local online radio station...trying to book a big event for the first time."
An excerpt from his statement follows:
There is no excuse but I will try to offer some insight as to how something like this can happen. The main reason I believe this could go un-noticed on KUKQ's end is that we are a small local on-line radio station that was trying a big event for the first time. There was not a single KUKQ staff member who did not have to work their tail of for that entire show just to get from gates to close. The only reason I point this out is because I am sure no one on our small staff was running around shopping the vendors and those that did probably did not really have time to take everything in the way someone attending the show would. Being at a show like this and working it are two entirely different things. We don't really take in the sights and sounds like someone seeing the show we are just hustling trying pull it off without any problems.
But this is a problem and one that slipped by us.
For the few of us on staff who have worked big festivals like this for many years all I can say is that nothing like this has ever happened. We have not researched companies who buy vendor spots because there has never been an issue like this before. So this is very eye opening from that standpoint. I am really as shocked as you are that this guy was on sight [sic] selling this stuff. We should have known and for that I once again apologize. It is not at all what KUKQ is about which is why we book and support bands like Bad Religion. This has no place at a Bad Religion show and I am truly disappointed that it happened. I cannot speak for the New Times but my understanding of the history of that publication is that Racism is not something that they endorse in any way shape or form. My re-collection is that they have been pretty out spoken against it.