Music

Biden Campaign Takes Down Live Music-Focused Ad After Venue Owner Allegedly Receives Threats

The Biden campaign recently ran an ad featuring Ann Arbor, Michigan venue the Blind Pig and its owner Joe Malcoun. The ad made its debut on Sunday, October 18, during an NFL game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Notably, the ad also featured “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, who do not typically license their music for commercials.

The ad includes photos and footage of concerts at the Blind Pig, which has hosted shows from Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop, John Lennon, Danny Brown, Sufjan Stevens, Pearl Jam, and many others. Snippets of Pixies and Breeders songs were also featured, and it also shows empty barstools, as the venue cannot operate due to COVID-19. In the video, Malcoun says, “This is the reality of Trump’s COVID response. We don’t know how much longer we can survive not having any revenue.”

The Biden campaign video was published on YouTube but has now been taken down, as The New York Times and the Detroit Metro Times report. Bill Russo, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, told The Times that the video was removed because Malcoun and his family were “doxxed, harassed, and threatened after the Trump campaign has sought to smear [Malcoun].”

As Forbes notes, many Trump supporters took exception to the ad. Ken Farnaso, Trump’s Deputy National Press Secretary, described the backlash as “rightful” in an email to the Metro Times, adding that “every day [sic] Americans [are] offended that the Biden team created this ad.” Farnaso also wrote, “In their desperation to pin something else on the President, they fabricated a story in a last ditch effort to lie to voters because nothing else has worked—and they got caught.”

According to The Times, the backlash is apparently due to the origins of Joe Malcoun’s wealth. Malcoun is an “angel investor” who has said he inherited a lot of money from his wife’s grandfather.

Joe Malcoun was part of a group that bought the Blind Pig in 2017. Speaking with Crain’s Business Detroit after the acquisition, Malcoun said the group planned to invest more than $1 million in the venue to ensure attendees can have “the best musical experience.”

The Biden campaign ad, featuring the Blind Pig, is still available to view in the below tweet by social media influencer and former NBA player Rex Chapman. The ad echoes points made by the National Independent Venues Association—a collective arguing that the shutdown of COVID-19 relief talks by the White House and Congress could spark a “mass collapse” of the live music industry.

Pitchfork has emailed the Biden and Trump campaigns for comment and more information.

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