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Joywave and Japanese Breakfast will boycott Main Street Armory over ReAwaken America tour

The Main Street Armory
Max Schulte
The Main Street Armory

The controversy over the ReAwaken America Tour’s scheduled appearance at the Main Street Armory is spreading.

Indie pop-rock band Japanese Breakfast, nominated for Best New Artist at this spring’s Grammy Awards, has canceled its Sept. 27 show at the Armory. And Rochester indie rockers Joywave, who have just completed a national tour and have played the venue in the past, said they will not appear at the Main Street Armory again if it goes through with ReAwaken America.

Michelle Zauner, who fronts Japanese Breakfast, announced its cancellation Thursday morning on Twitter:

Japanese Breakfast played a show earlier this year at Anthology on East Avenue.

The ReAwaken Tour features far-right speakers who advocate on behalf of conspiracies that have been thoroughly debunked, including claims that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax.

White nationalism is also a plank in the ReAwaken Tour platform. Zauner is of Korean-American heritage.

The extensive roster of speakers scheduled for the Rochester shows include former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who called on Trump to declare martial law and “temporarily suspend the Constitution” after Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

Trump whisperer Roger Stone is also scheduled to appear. In 2019, he was sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to Congress, obstructing a House probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump 2016 campaign and witness tampering. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence.

The ReAwaken Tour lineup also boasts of a handful of people labeled “Pastor” and “Doctor,” and “The Burns Family.”

The ReAwaken Tour is still selling tickets to its Aug. 12 and 13 events through its website. But the Main Street Armory website does not list the event.

Scott Donaldson, the owner of the Main Street Armory, 900 E. Main St., did not respond to a request for comment.

Joywave lead singer and songwriter Daniel Armbruster says he also contacted the Armory to express his concerns, but did not receive a response.

Armbruster also posted on Twitter: “Have heard a few agents behind the scenes feel the same about booking their artists there as well.”

A huckster aura accompanies ReAwaken America. Over the course of its tour, it has featured vendors peddling wares such as Miracle Mineral Solution, an elixir that its makers claim will cure all of your medical ailments … forever.

Faux doctors tell their audiences that COVID vaccines alter the DNA and lead to sterilization. And 5G frequencies emitted by their phones will open the door to HIV infection. QAnon conspiracy authorities place the blame for such imaginary ills at the feet of what it calls Deep State demonic cults.

Rochester city leaders have been calling for the Armory to cancel the event, as does a petition being circulated locally via social media.

The Democratic Caucus of Monroe County issued a press release stating, “This tour features speakers who support extremism, including QAnon conspiracy theories, Christian nationalism, the Big Lie, violent insurrection, attacks on LGTBQ rights, and anti-vaccine falsehoods. The tour promotes exactly the hateful rhetoric that has been used by mass murderers to justify heinous attacks on innocent people – most recently against our neighbors in Buffalo.”

The release also included a statement from Legislator Mercedes Vazquez Simmons, who said, “Hate has no home in Rochester. It’s outrageous and offensive for this tour to come to a Black and Brown neighborhood. We urge the owner of the Main Street Armory to cancel this booking for the safety and well-being of the community.”

Added Minority Leader Yversha Roman: “We support free speech. We do not support hate speech. The Main Street Armory is under no obligation to host extremists. We ask Scott Donaldson to put the ReAwaken America Tour to sleep in Rochester.”

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle.