Totenkopfs, Craft Beers & Death in June: On the Scene at the "Death of the West" Tour

The fans and the scene at the controversial band's Brooklyn performance.

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Sep 23 2013, 3:05pm


Photos by Fred Pessaro.

There were no protesters, antifa presence or sieg heil-ing. In fact, it was a peaceful, whooping audience for legendary and controversial neo-folk/industrial project Death in June at the Bell House in Brooklyn on September 20, part of their larger “Death of The West” tour. The tour had already been challenged with vandalism, show cancellation, and venue changes before making its way to New York, the sort of thing that has plagued the band since the eighties.

Douglas P, the man behind Death In June, is openly gay, has toured Israel, and was a member of peace-punk band Crisis, noted for performing at anti-Nazi rallies during their tenure. Yet he has come under fire for using older symbols repurposed by the Nazi regime. For their logo—for lack of a better term—DIJ use a variant of the totenkopf and the number 6 often upon a rainbow flag. Douglas P. envisions this symbol as the embodiment of death and therefore commitment, and the number 6 simply stands for the sixth month of the year: June. Hopefully you know what a rainbow flag means.

Death in June has been instrumental in my life as a queer girl with a Cuban/Jewish heritage with an oft-misinterpreted Algiz tattoo. I don’t see myself as some staunch advocate for the band or even a proper voice to their vision, but I like their music and think they use challenging imagery in a tasteful, thoughtful, and provocative way. I know where I stand in my support of DIJ, but I had to ask some of the audience about their relationship with the band.

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Death in June, The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY 9/20/13

Name & Age
: Yaddica, 30.

What are you expecting tonight?
The performance is conversational, from what I have heard. I have friends from New York and Boston here. I just got here from Kentucky. It’s going to be a good show. I might not be here to see it but I think it is going to be great.


Name & Age: Mar, 30.

What brought you out tonight?
I’m mostly here to see the carnival. I have no expectations.


Name & Age: Matthew and Harrison, 20s.

What are you expecting tonight, both from the crowd and the performance?

Matthew: I came into tonight's show a long time Death in June fan but this being my first ever neo-folk show, so performance wise I was not sure what to expect. I also came into this show anticipating some sort of protest going on outside or perhaps even a cancellation after the events that happened before Death in June sets in San Francisco and Boston.


Name & Age: Chelsey, 20-something.

What are you expecting tonight?
A lot of Cold Cave shirts. I hope I don’t fall asleep. I like them a lot, but I am really tired and usually listen to them when I am going to sleep.


Name & Age: Alexander, 26.

You must be aware of the controversy that surrounds Death in June. What does it mean to you and did it effect your decision to come here tonight?

I think it is bogus. It is just because he uses provocative imagery and it did not affect anything.


Name & Age: Cody, 26.

You just told us that your opinion is that the controversy tonight is bogus. What would you have done tonight if the show had been cancelled?

Smoked weed at my house.


Name & Age: Matthew, 22.

What are you expecting tonight, both from the crowd and the performance?

I was expecting a lot ANTIFA to be flooding outside, trying to stop the show from happening.

Are you happy that there has not been any sort of reaction like that?

Yeah, it is relieving. When I was on the subway over I was just looking around, feeling uncomfortable wondering if that was going to happen. I was hoping it wouldn’t be like the Cold Cave show with Boyd Rice.


Name & Age: Becka, Old enough.

What would you have done tonight if the show had been cancelled?

Cried in my room or drink a bottle of wine. Sorry, AND. I would have cried in my room AND drank a bottle of wine.


Name & Age: Ryan, 31.

You must be aware of the history of controversy the surrounds Death in June. Did it at all effect your decision to come tonight?

I don’t think that it effected by decision because I appreciate the music and as far as the controversy surrounding it… There is controversy surrounding everything. I’ve seen a lot of shows like 2 Live Crew and stuff like that I feel like a lot of the artists that I like are controversal in one way or another and this is no different. It’s not like it’s Skrewdriver or something like that. There are just rumors and rumors are rumors. Everyone has had a rumor spread about them at some point.

What is your favorite Death in June song?

Overall, All Pigs Must Die is my favorite record.


Name & Age: Alyssa, 36.

You’ve got to be aware of the controversy that surrounds Death in June. What does it mean to you?

I think it is a profound misreading of the iconography that the band uses. I think that it is entirely misplaced and a mistake to read it on the level that it is being read.

What are you expecting tonight, both from the crowd and the performance?

I want to see the famous mask very badly. I think that people love the band; a lot of us have loved them for a long time. I have loved them since high school. I am just excited.