Who would have thought private concerts where such a big deal to law enforcement officials? Seem to me they should be spending their resources on more pressing matters.
As anyone who’s watched a single crime story on TV or film knows, undercover detective work is dangerous business. There inevitably comes a moment when the crime boss gets suspicious. Scary, sure, but at least police officers have a working knowledge of the rules of the crime game. They’ve trained their whole lives to pull off this deception.
Passing yourself off as a credible music scenester, on the other hand, is an order of magnitude more difficult. Never mind drug lords—no one can identify a poseur more quickly than a hipster; sniffing out fakes is essentially the entire job description. That’s what Boston police are finding out as their bungling efforts to infiltrate the underground rock scene online are being exposed.
A recently passed nuisance control ordinance has spurred a citywide crackdown on house shows—concerts played in private homes, rather than in clubs. The police, it appears, are taking a particularly modern approach to address the issue: They’re posing as music fans online to ferret out intel on where these DIY shows are going to take place. While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept. It’s a law enforcement technique seemingly cribbed from MTV’s Catfish—but instead of creating a fake persona to ensnare the marks in a romantic internet scam, it’s music fandom that’s being feigned.
Almost everyone in the DIY scene has had an experience with phony police emails, direct messages on Twitter, and interactions on social media. For some it’s become just another part of the promotion business—a game of spot-the-narc in which the loser gets his show shut down. According to one local musician who asked not to be named, the day before a show this past weekend, police showed up at a house in the Allston neighborhood, home of many of these house shows, claiming that they already knew the bands scheduled to play. The cops told the residents of the house that they found out about the show through email, and they bragged about their phony Facebook accounts.