Spelling Bee Outs "Joe Sly," Alleged Undercover Cop Posing as Punk Fan
St. Louis's own Spelling Bee has apparently outed an undercover police operation in Boston. The cops' goal: Breaking up DIY punk shows by posing as fans.
"Basically I think the cops should have something better to do," says drummer and vocalist Joseph Hess.
Before we go an inch further we should mention that both members of Spelling Bee have a relationship with Riverfront Times -- Mabel Suen is our intrepid clubs editor and a contributing writer, and Hess writes for the music section. None of that changes the fact that what just happened to them is 100 percent insane.
Spelling Bee is currently on tour, playing at various bars and venues, but also at DIY shows. For the uninitiated, these are typically at friend's homes, they ask for donations at the door to help pay the bands. That takes a big bite out of the band's overhead and creates, according to Suen, a cozy little community of fans.
Theo R. Welling Joseph Hess and Mabel Suen -- undercover cop busters!
"It's funny that the cops have such a harsh idea of what it is. Really it's just a bunch of positive people," says Suen. "The worst thing that could happen is a noise complaint."
Last Saturday, Spelling Bee was set to play in a friend's basement in the Allston neighborhood of Boston along with another band. Because Boston is already notorious for its unfriendly attitude toward DIY shows, the location was kept secret. The only way to find out where to go was to contact someone in the know. Someone like Suen or Hess.
"Multiple people asked us for the address. We got like six emails all at once," says Hess. "We just responded to everybody."
They thought nothing of giving out the address until Boston police knocked on the door of the venue the day before the show. The homeowner answered the door and got some suspiciously pointed questions from the officers.
"They said something to the effect of, 'You can't have this show here now,'" says Suen. "The most threatening and weird thing we heard they said was, 'It would be a shame if your friends from St. Louis came all the way down here to play a show and have their equipment confiscated.'"
Hess says that the police claimed to have gotten the home's address on Facebook, but that there's no way that could have happened. When the band looked back through their email messages they noticed something very suspicious about a supposed fan named "Joe Sly."