The bizarre story surrounding US artist Jered Threatin is getting stranger by the minute.
The Los Angeles musician plays under the name Threatin and had been touring the UK, with tickets for the shows seemingly selling well.
However, it’s alleged that Threatin faked a Facebook fan base to entice venues to book him and his band… and, as a result, it’s turned into a chaotic mess with no one showing up at any of his shows.
The NME (opens in new tab) report that The Underworld in Camden posted on Threatin’s Facebook page: “What happened to the 291 advanced ticket sales your agent said you’d sold?
“Three people turned up. Please don’t lie about ticket sales, and please don’t contact us again for a show.”
A similar situation happened at The Exchange in Bristol, where it’s reported that 180 advance tickets had been shifted, but the only people to show up were those on the guest list for support band Ghost Of Machines.
Billy Bingham from Ghost Of Machines told NME that they were told to postpone their set as “the owner of The Exchange had pulled aside Threatin’s tour manager to explain why no one had entered the venue with advance tickets.”
He added: “It turned out that the promoter had lied about tickets sales and all of the confirmed attendees on Facebook were fake accounts based in Brazil.”
Threatin was told to cover the venue costs or the show would be pulled, with Bingham reporting that he agreed to cough up the cash and the show went ahead.
Threatin had been due to play Belfast’s Empire Music Hall on Sunday evening, but at 2pm yesterday, the venue issued a statement saying that Threatin’s management had scrapped the show without offering them an explanation.
Threatin’s Facebook page has been taken down in light of the furore, but his YouTube account remains active – although all comments have been disabled.
And the meltdown shows no signs of letting up as Metal Sucks (opens in new tab) report that guitarist Joe Prunera and drummer Dane Davis have now quit the band and have flown home to the US.
The website say that both musicians were hired for the tour and had no idea about the mess surrounding Threatin, with a source reporting that they had to pay for their own food while on the road.
The fake Facebook likes aren't the only evidence of Threatin's dubious online presence.
The websites associated with Threatin, his manager, booking agent, press agent and record label were all registered at the same domain registrar between June 2016 and March of this year, while the two news sites carrying favourable reviews – Top Rock Press and New York Music Review – were registered within three days of each other in November 2016.
Both sites are populated by content that originally appeared on other websites.
So, was Threatin duped by his promoter? According to Bingham, no.
He tells NME: "I believed [at first], from what I had heard that evening, that it was the promoter who had duped Threatin and I did feel sorry for him.
“It wasn’t until the hours and days after that I realised everything about his online presence is a lie and that he probably knew about everything beforehand – even before booking the tour.
“I feel angry that acts like this exist. Who buy likes, comments and YouTube plays and then book reputable venues and lie about ticket sales?
“It damages the music scene and venues end up out of pocket because of an empty room.”
We’ll leave the last word to a spokesperson from The Exchange in Bristol who says: “No venue could be reasonably expected to anticipate this, because there's no sane or comprehensible reason why anyone would do it.
“It's like if you're planning a birthday party in Hull and you don't have a contingency in case Hulk Hogan turns up and eats all the cake.”