Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme violently kicked Shutterstock photographer Chelsea Lauren in the head at the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas show in Inglewood, California, on Saturday night. If the news that a woman was assaulted at rock show surprises you, it, unfortunately, shouldn’t.
In the initial hours following the assault, Homme released a statement detailing that he had no idea he had kicked Lauren—who sustained injuries serious enough to land her in the ER—in the face. But Lauren’s take of the evening was different. She told Variety that before Homme struck her, he looked her straight in the face.
“I saw him coming over and I was shooting away… The next thing I know his foot connects with my camera and my camera connects with my face, really hard,” she said. “He looked straight at me, swung his leg back pretty hard and full-blown kicked me in the face. He continued performing, I was startled, I kind of stopped looking at him, I just got down and was holding my face because it hurt so badly.”
Following Lauren’s statement, Homme issued a second apology on Instagram and took responsibility for his actions.
“I’d just like to apologize to Chelsea Lauren,” he said. “I don’t have any excuse or reason to justify what I did. I was a total dick.”
As a concert photographer myself, I found the news of Homme’s assault terrifying and disturbing, but not really all that shocking. Many women who attend hard rock or punk concerts regularly can attest that assault and unwanted touching run rampant.
Even female concert photographers deal with these issues. While worrying about your camera getting smashed in a spontaneous mosh pit or doused in beer thrown toward the stage, women also have to worry that men in the audience might take advantage of them while they’re focusing on their job. Now we can add “getting kicked in the face by the lead singer” to a never-ending list of things to worry about.
I don’t get the disrespect. As a Concert photog for over 20 yrs I’ve witnessed & have had musicians spit, spew beer, throw water, flash sexual vulgarities, been ‘bumped’ etc just while doing my job. Our equipment is expensive too, can you imagine if we treated them the same way?
— CowGirlZen (@cowgirlzenphoto) December 11, 2017
I also wasn’t shocked to see trolls or Queens of the Stone Age fans find excuses for Homme, including placing the blame on Lauren or refusing to believe her story.
So you yourself admit that you and her are both reporters? If you’ve been supposedly kicked in the face as hard as everyone has said she was even though it was only her camera then she should’ve gone straight to the hospital. All this seems like to me is a slander campaign.
— Athrodusk (@MissBlue92) December 11, 2017
How many of you claiming that one cannot be lost in performance are musicians? Can you honestly tell me you’ve never been lost in performance? Because, I am and I can’t.
— Darrell Long (@floopjack) December 10, 2017
He has hurt you but you decide to publicly lambast him and file a police report, I get the feeling its not just public sympathy your after $$$$
— rockycoffee (@rockycoffee) December 11, 2017
Was he trying to photograph in the middle? Because they aren’t allowed to do that. Fuckin’ dimwits.
— Karlee Kanz (@KarleeKanz) December 10, 2017
Thankfully, things are changing in the music scene. Some live music communities have embraced campaigns like Girls to the Front—founded by the Riot Grrrl movement in the ‘90s—or more recently, Girls Against, which aims to end sexual assault at concerts. For every misogynist comment thrown at Lauren on Twitter, there seemed to be at least five fans who supported Lauren.
Any man.. repeat any man who physically and verbally attacks a girl or woman needs to be reprimanded.. my thoughts are with you dear and I have a feeling that most of my friends in the music business behind you and Josh needs to man up and get right sized… #jerk
— Glenn Hughes (@glenn_hughes) December 11, 2017
Sending so much love to you @ChelseaLaurenLA, you are such a professional, and so nice, I am so sorry you were kicked by Josh Homme at the show last night while you were doing your job.
If you need anything I’m here, I support you 100%.
— Ted Stryker (@TedStryker) December 10, 2017
Thank you everyone that has reached out with supportive messages. A small update, as I’m being flooded with questions: My neck is a sore, my eyebrow bruised and I’m a bit nauseous. The doctor released me early in the morning. Here are three images. Two of them as Josh looked at me, smiled and then kicked me. The other one is later after he cut his own face with a knife. I was in the pit in tears – and he just stared at me smiling. Assault in any form is not okay, no matter what the reasoning. Alcohol and drugs are no excuse. I was where I was allowed to be, I was not breaking any rules. I was simply trying to do my job. I hold nobody accountable for this but Josh himself. KROQ has nothing to do with this and I will always support them. The irony is someone had thrown an ice cube on to the very slick catwalk before the QOTSA set. I was afraid that one of the band members might slip and hurt themselves so, when the lights went dark, I used my arm to wipe down the runway so nobody would hurt themselves. Thank you to @variety for their immediate concern and care with this matter. As of now, nobody from QOTSA has reached out to me. #queensofthestoneage #QOTSA #JoshHomme
But things can only get better if we continue to call out the assholes in the pit who think their live music experiences are more important than the safety of the women at shows—and that includes musicians like Homme who do it from the stage.
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