For many musicians, an overseas tour is a massive deal. And as Los Angeles-based group Threatin traveled to the United Kingdom to play a number of gigs in November 2018, they may have seemed like a big draw. However, the rock troupe went on to perform at a series of empty venues…
Rock band Threatin are fronted by Jered Threatin, who has been a resident of Los Angeles, California, since 2012. Upon his move to the Golden State, the aspiring star decided to build a band around himself, and to that end he began looking at a number of musicians.
But there was a twist. After all, Jered’s official website describes him as “a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.” Why, then, would someone seemingly capable of striking out on their own be so keen to form a band? Well, the musician would explain his reasons in an interview in 2013.
“I play every instrument you hear on the studio recordings,” Jered claimed during the interview. “But when I perform on stage, I am confined to singing and playing one instrument at a time. So, I am fortunate to have a solid backing band that believes in what I do.”
And from there, Jered’s band – known simply as Threatin – apparently gained some renown in North America, touring across the continent. According to their website, the rock group signed a deal with record label Superlative Music Recordings in 2014. Then, the following year, Jered took to the studio himself to record the group’s debut single.
Titled “Living Is Dying,” the single was allegedly downloaded more than 30,000 times in its first month of release in 2015. Threatin also recorded a music video for the track and uploaded the clip onto his YouTube channel in August 2017 – but one thing about the footage really stood out.
You see, in the video, Threatin certainly appears to be doing his best to live up to his “multi-instrumentalist” tag, as he is seen playing the drums, guitar and bass by himself. And following the release of “Living Is Dying,” things continued to progress for the group – or so they maintained.
According to their website, Threatin embarked upon a larger tour of America and Canada in 2015 before their front-man took a step back. It was at this point that he started working on the band’s “highly anticipated” debut album, called Breaking the World. And in fact he supposedly spent over a year perfecting the record ahead of its release in August 2017.
Breaking the World certainly seemed to be something of a hit, too. “[The album] was well-received by both fans and critics alike,” Threatin’s website trumpeted of the release. Off the back of that apparent triumph, Threatin went on to win the “Top Rock Artist of the Year Award” in 2017, adding to the list of achievements.
Threatin also had a fair amount of support on social media, with the band’s Facebook page earning close to 40,000 likes from online users. And when Jered made a bold decision in the summer of 2018, he used Facebook and Twitter to broadcast the news.
Specifically, Jered took to social media to announce that his band would embark on a European tour throughout November 2018. The first 11 days of the tour were set to take place in the United Kingdom, with three more gigs scheduled in France, Italy and Germany.
So, alongside bandmates Joe Prunera, Gavin Carney and Dane Davis, Jered kicked the tour off in London, England on November 1. The rockers were set to perform in front of nearly 300 people at the Underworld venue in Camden that night, according to their agent. However, things took a very bizarre turn.
As Threatin took to the stage, they weren’t greeted by spectators in their hundreds. Instead, the headcount barely reached single digits – much to the anger of the venue. “What happened to the 291 advanced ticket sales your agent said you’d sold?” the Underworld wrote on the band’s social media page.
“Three people turned up,” the Underworld continued. “Please don’t lie about ticket sales, and please don’t contact us again for a show.” And yet despite the desperately low turnout, the show still went on. The venue’s booking manager would ultimately speak up about the strange turn of events, though.
“[Threatin] played the full show,” Jon Vyner told the BBC in November 2018. “If they’ve paid the hire fee upfront, we’re obliged to see the thing through. The most remarkable thing is that it didn’t seem to bother Threatin. He seemed quite happy to give it his all without an audience.”
Meanwhile, one of Vyner’s colleagues, Patrice Lovelace, spoke further about her experience of Threatin to website Sick Chirpse. “We were contacted by Threatin’s agent Casey Palmer at Stage Right Bookings about the show, and he booked the venue out himself,” Lovelace said in November 2018.
At that point, Lovelace shared the numbers that had left the Underworld fuming. “[Palmer] claimed to have sold 291 tickets on his end, which seemed strange to us as we had only sold three,” she said. “Only three people turned up to the gig, and the support band brought them.”
Lovelace continued, “[Threatin’s] band were all session musicians, and it was a completely awful experience for everyone involved. The bar only made £30 all night, so it was a waste of time for the venue, although at least the venue’s hire-out fee was covered.”
Lovelace would lift the lid on the costs involved in hiring out the Underworld, too. “We would never book an artist like this in-house. It was a hire out, and as we’re not that cheap to hire we assumed the promoter [or] agent was serious,” she told Sick Chirpse.
“[The band] spent… £780 ($984) hiring Underworld for that waste of time!” Lovelace continued. “We’ve never experienced something like this before. We just took the hire money knowing the artist was horrendous but assuming the agent was truthful about how many fans without taste in music he had!”
Since Threatin were just kicking off their European tour, though, the discrepancy in numbers could just have been chalked up to an anomaly or miscommunication. And yet the band arrived in Bristol, England, a few days later, ready to perform in front of close to 200 people at music venue the Exchange – and the same strangeness happened again.
“Last night at the Exchange, a band from L.A. called Threatin played,” read a post on the venue’s Facebook page. “We were expecting it to be a busy night because the promoter had supposedly sold 180 tickets. It was a bit weird to find out the promoter was still in Hollywood instead of being at the gig.”
“[It was] slightly weirder that we hadn’t sold any tickets through the venue at all,” the Exchange’s post continued. “It REALLY seemed weird when the only people to arrive were on the support band’s guestlist. We had to ask Threatin to pay the venue hire [and] staff costs before anyone else played.”
With some apparent reluctance, Threatin duly handed over the required amount before taking the stage. However, as mentioned in the Exchange’s Facebook post, the band played in front of “literally zero people,” barring a few members of a support band. And from there, the story took an even stranger turn.
After detailing the evening’s events, the Bristol venue then made a jaw-dropping accusation. “[As it] turns out, Threatin are essentially a fake band,” read the Exchange’s post. “38,000 likes on Facebook which have ALL been paid for. The 100 or so people attending the event page are all based in Brazil.”
The Exchange’s allegations didn’t end there, though. “Every comment on [Threatin’s] YouTube videos is phony, including ones about how the ‘women’ posting want to lick the sweat off his body,” the post continued. “I’m starting to think they probably didn’t win [the] ‘Top Rock Artist of the Year Award’ like their bio suggests…”
The support band that night was Ghost of Machines, and frontman Billy Bingham would also share his thoughts about what had happened. “After our soundcheck at 6:00 p.m., everything seemed normal like any other show,” he told the NME in November 2018. “We were told 180 tickets had been sold in advance, and we anticipated a great evening.”
“Just before we were about to go onstage at around 8:45 p.m., I was told to postpone,” Bingham continued. “As the owner of the Exchange had pulled aside Threatin’s tour manager to explain why no-one had entered the venue with advance tickets.” Facing the cancelation of his gig, Threatin was compelled to pay the venue upfront before being allowed to take to the stage.
The Ghost of Machines singer also explained why he had felt the need to stay behind and watch the group perform. “After our set, everyone left due to the circumstances of the evening,” Bingham said. “At the time, I believed that the promoter had duped Threatin, so I did feel sorry for him.”
“Therefore, I said to the band that we should stay and watch [Threatin’s] set, as I for one didn’t want him to play to an empty room,” Bingham added. “In light of the events, his session musicians were very good… and Threatin’s performance, despite the empty room, was energetic.”
And as news of Threatin’s poorly attended shows spread across the web, Bingham had a theory that he shared with the BBC. Specifically, the singer believed that Threatin had acted as the band’s manager and promoter and had actually fabricated his record label. Further to that, Bingham also accused his counterpart of posing as “Casey Palmer” in booking Ghost of Machines as the support act for that night.
Meanwhile, the increasingly bizarre tour continued as Threatin played at another empty venue in Manchester, England. And the same peculiarity happened yet again when they traveled down to Birmingham. The support band that night were well prepared, though, as someone from Ghost of Machines had contacted them in advance.
“[Ghost of Machines] said they’d played in Bristol the night before, and no-one was there. But they’d been told it was a sell-out show,” drummer Adam Gostick of The Unresolved told the BBC. “We stayed for four or five songs, when we started packing our gear up into the car. The people who came with us seemed to notice we were packing our stuff up, and they left.”
“In the end, Threatin played to the one person who bought a ticket,” Gostick added. At that point, the band then headed over to Belfast in Northern Ireland for their next gig. However, that event was eventually canceled, as Davis, Prunera and Carney all quit the group.
At around that time, Jered switched all his social media accounts to private. He apparently even went so far as to delete the band’s Facebook account entirely. And while to some the entire story was wryly amusing, Bingham didn’t find it a laughing matter.
The Ghost of Machines singer told the NME, “It wasn’t until the hours and days after [the gig with Threatin] that I started to suspect that everything about [Threatin’s] online presence is a lie.” Bingham added, “[Threatin] probably knew about everything beforehand – even before booking the tour. If so, it damages the music scene, and venues end up out of pocket because of an empty room.”
The frontman then touched upon the other problems that Threatin may have created for other artists. “It also makes it harder for genuine bands like mine – who work hard – to gain live exposure due to the fact that no tickets were actually sold,” Bingham continued. “We ended up out of pocket due to expenses, van hire, etc., as we expected to sell merch at the show.”
And while it’s difficult to say exactly what Jered was trying to get out of the tour, he did nevertheless hit the headlines for his apparent stunt. As a result, more people became aware of the American musician. This exposure did have an upside for him, too: the “Living Is Dying” video now boasts over 1.2 million views on YouTube.
But the mystery behind Jered’s motives may have only deepened when he broke his silence on Twitter. “What is Fake News?” he wrote on the site in November 2018. “I turned an empty room into an international headline. If you are reading this, you are part of the illusion.”
This statement came just a matter of days after Lovelace had commented on Jered to the BBC. And it appeared that she was still rather nonplussed as to the musician’s motivations. “[Jered has] wasted an opportunity, and I don’t think he should have canceled those last shows because I think they would have done quite well,” Lovelace said. “I don’t know what his point was. I thought he wanted fame, and he’s famous now.”