Following a surge of support from the online community in what has been labelled ‘#ampgate”, Melbourne favourites The Smith Street Band have recovered the gear stolen from them at a show over the weekend at The Old Bar in Fitzroy.
After crooks at the venue made off with an amplifier belonging to the band in the early hours of Sunday morning, frontman Wil Wagner took to the band’s Facebook and Twitter to explain the incident, calling for fans to help identify the criminals caught on CCTV footage as they set about reclaiming the pinched equipment.
“On Saturday night (technically Sunday morning), at around 2.30am someone stole my Fender combo amp off the stage at The Old Bar,” wrote the 22-year-old songwriter online. “If you saw anything or know someone that did please let us know. I would much rather just get the amp back than get police involved but I will if I have to because we leave for tour in 10 days and I’d kind of like to use an amp,” wrote Wagner, referring to this month’s extensive headline tour and upcoming international dates.
After sharing images taken from the venue’s CCTV footage that shows two males allegedly involved in the theft, a groundswell of online support eventually led to one of the men pictured – dubbed #fedoraguy by Wagner – to contact the frontman about returning his stolen amp to him.
What came next was a series of bizarre negotiations between the Smith Street Band frontman and the anonymous robber, with Wagner keeping fans up to speed on #ampgate and #fedoragay with live updates on their social media accounts, which quickly went viral.
Following refusing to give up the details of his friend (the non-hat wearing ‘scumbag’ in the above images) with the stolen amp (“they are bargaining with me internet!! This is amazing,” wrote Wagner), there were further exchanges with the Smith Street Band frontman upholding his promise not to turn in the crooks to police if they ensured the return of his stolen Fender combo.
Eventually the anonymous thief “agreed to return the amp by taxi to a mutual location,” wrote Wagner last night, “I will be the first to know when it arrives, you all will be next,” he added.
Eventually Wagner confirmed that “The Eagle Has Landed!” before posting the following image showing that the amp was back in his rightful hands.
Wagner described the #ampgate saga as “the highlight of my musical career,” while thanking fans and media for the support in tracking down the culprits, calling it “ultimately a victory but fells like a bit of a shitty end to what has been an incredible saga,” he writes.
Adding that: “I still don’t know anything about the actual bloke who took it and as frustrated as I am that he’s sort of got away with doing a shitty, shitty thing, all I really wanted to do was tell him that he did a shitty, shitty thing and to never fucking do it again and I reckon he’s learnt his lesson.”
The Smith Street band will now embark on a tour in support of their new EP Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams, released this week, which was named after another awful gig-going incident in which a member of fellow Melbourne band The Bennies was hospitalised after being stabbed with a broken whiskey bottle by an intoxicated punter at an all-ages show where they supported the Smith Street Band.
Guitarist Julien ‘Jules’ Rozenbergs was the victim of the stabbing at Byron Bay’s The Shed earlier this year, after he attempted to calm down an aggravated gig-goer before attempting to restrain him outside the venue in a scuffle that resulted in the guitarist receiving a “20cm by 20cm” gash in his armpit.
“Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams was something Jules said during the incident, and that kind of became a motto for the rest of the tour,” Wagner explains. “We want to make a positive change in the world and we want to create the happiest, best party environments for our shows and we are not going to let the dickheads win!”
The Smith Street Band 2013 Australian Tour
with Joyce Manor (USA) and Cheap Girls (USA)
Tix on sale now at www.thesmithstreetband.com
Thu Aug 22 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA*
Fri Aug 23 – Prince of Wales, Bunbury WA*
Sat Aug 24 – Adelaide Unibar, Adelaide SA*
Sun Aug 25 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC*
Wed Aug 28 – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS*
Thu Aug 29 – The Zoo, Brisbane QLD
Fri Aug 30 – Hotel Great Northern, Newcastle NSW
Sat Aug 31 – Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW
Wed Sep 04 – Transit Bar, Canberra ACT
Sat Sep 07 – Poison City Weekender – Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT!)
Check out The Smith Street Band UK/European dates HERE.