Brassed 0ff! Harmony of the brass band world broken by ' sickening' insults
Latest News | May 11, 2015
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Labour has dubbed the clarification on brass bands a U-turn and criticised the Government over initial proposals Photo: ALAMY
The police are investigating the Mineworkers' Open National Brass Band Festival after rival musicians insulted each other and likened the venue to "Auschwitz".
Audiences usually listen in silence with only the odd titter at a wrong note or quiet applause when it all goes right for the bands competing for the £7,000 prize.
But this year the friendly rivalry spilt over into open hostility – as the banter escalated into "sickening" insults.
It became so bad – with band members being branded "serial rapists" and "paedophiles" – that the organisers have called in the police to investigate.
The situation boiled over at the event last weekend as an audience of more than 6,000 people watched the 100 bands compete for the title at the Butlin's resort in Skegness, Lincs.
As always the brass band website 4barsrest.com was running an online commentary and using Twitter to follow the competition as it unfolded on stage.
But soon the organisers noticed that there was a rival online account making comments about the proceedings from a group in the audience.
At first it was mainly harmless jokes and light ribbing of those on the stage but as the competition went on it became increasingly rude and insulting.
At one time, the group jokingly awarded a tuba player the Dyson Award for making his instrument sound like a vacuum cleaner.
At another, they said one of the players was "wearing his curtains".
By the end of the day sexist, derogatory and homophobic remarks were being made about the appearance of the performers and their ability to play their instruments.
Eventually organisers had to make an announcement for the abuse to stop after the hall was likened to "Auschwitz" and the musicians to "serial killers", "paedophiles" and "Nazis".
Finally, when the event finished the organisers were so upset that a complaint was made to Lincolnshire police which is now investigating.
Brian Eggleshaw, the contest administrator, said it was "sickening".
"I just feel absolutely sick, that a wonderful event that attracted 6,000 people and 100 bands has been marred by this."
Mr Eggleshaw said that the perpetrators were thought to be from a rival band that was not actually taking part in the competition.
He said they have been identified and face sanctions from their own band and will be banned from returning to the competition.
Kenny Crookston, editor of British Bandsman magazine, alerted the contest organisers to the abuse when it was spotted online.
"It was a terrible and ugly incident and one we are just not used to in the brass band world," he said.
"There is a very small minority currently involved in brass banding that seem intent on denigrating the efforts of what are actually very skilled amateur musicians through a medium in which they think they are anonymous."
The account has been deleted since the comments were made during the final day .
Iwan Fox, of online brass branding magazine 4barsrest.com, attended the event, he said: "Brass banding, especially at events, is very family-orientated.
"There's a good rivalry but it's a friendly rivalry between bands and players and performers.
"This was just total stupidity."
A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police said the force was examining the material.