Formed in the San Fernando Valley in 1977, The Dickies come from a school of punk rock whose guiding principle is to offend hippies and squares alike. Their music is your standard Ramones-style pop-punk buzz, leaving it to frontman Leonard Grave Phillips to make the band stand out. He does so with over-the-top crude, juvenile humor—the man performs with a penis puppet, for Christ’s sake—a shtick that’s been successful enough to keep the band going for the past 40 years.
That’s basically all the background you need for a story that ran in LA Weekly and about a million other outlets this week about a recent onstage in which Phillips went off on a woman from the feminist advocacy group Safer Scenes who was touring with the festival at a Warped Tour date in Denver. The woman, who was reportedly offended by Phillips’ onstage banter during earlier stops on the tour, stood in the crowd during The Dickies’ set holding a sign that said, “Teen girls deserve respect, not gross jokes from disgusting old men! Punk shouldn’t be predatory!”
And because Phillips can dish it out, but he can’t take it, he responded with a string of misogynistic obscenities that began with him yelling, “I’ve fucked farm animals that were prettier than you, you fucking hog!” Here’s the video, complete with fans in the crowd cheering Phillips on:
So anyway, since this is 2017 and not 1977—or even 1997—this particular bit of bottle-rocket-in-the-ass juvenilia was met with controversy. Lines were drawn between the old-school punk rockers who argue that to be punk is to court controversy, even (or especially) if that means hearing something offensive at a show, and younger fans—many of whom grew up with riot grrrl and the DIY scenes of the ‘90s and ‘00s—who argue that calling a woman sexist names is exactly what The Man we’re all supposed to be uniting against would do.
In the aftermath of the obscene incident, The Dickies wrapped up their run on Warped Tour, which, ironically enough, brought in Safer Spaces in response to criticism over booking an act that had been accused of sexual misconduct. Founder Kevin Lyman called for peace in a statement asking anyone offended by a Warped Tour act “to come sit under my tent with me and express their views diplomatically.” Meanwhile, Phillips released a cheeky non-apology that reads, in part, “I understand the word “cunt” is inflammatory and that many women have been abused by this word. I should have called her an ‘asshole.’ It wasn’t my proudest moment … but neither was the time I urinated on the audience.”
For their part, The Dickies’ peers are also split, with The Adolescents frontman Tony Cadena speaking out against Phillips’ rant—and shutting down his Facebook page after being inundated with verbal abuse from Phillips’ supporters as a result. Meanwhile, The Offspring guitarist Noodles—who recently tweeted that misogyny in America ”might [be] worse” than ever—and Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes have spoken out in support of Phillips and his right to offend, Consequence Of Sound reports. You can read both of those below.