"Hey there, local P native here. What is the Address for the local music show tonight?" That's one of the more egregious messages quoted in a riveting and amusing Slate piece today documenting Boston police's alleged attempts to infiltrate the city's do-it-yourself rock shows. "P," as the article points out, was probably supposed to be "JP," short for the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
According to Slate, the city has redoubled its efforts to shut down concerts played in homes rather than clubs after the recent approval of a new nuisance control ordinance. And that effort is reportedly playing out online: The article says dodging phony social-media contacts from suspected cops has basically become routine for local DIY musicians and show promoters. (The Boston Police Department wasn't quoted in the article, and a spokeswoman told SPIN she hadn't heard of such efforts.)
What really makes the story memorable, though, are the alleged catfishers themselves. St. Louis band Spelling Bee, for instance, posted a screenshot of e-mails they suspect came from police before a Boston gig lately. "Joe Sly" allegedly wrote them: "Too bad you were not here this weekend," “Joe Sly” wrote. “Patty's day is a mad house I am still pissing green beer. The cops do break balls something wicked here. What's the address for Saturday Night, love DIY concerts." Who among us doesn't love DIY concerts?
"Sly" also contacted the other band on the bill, Do No Harm, the Massachusetts-based group tweeted. And Slate flags the absurdly generic Facebook account of "Donna Giordano." Local promoters reportedly say they've been receiving messages from her, but officials at the school she lists are quoted as saying there's no record of her under that name. And, um, she tagged an innocent-seeming photo with the names of Slipknot's drummer and a Bollywood actress.
It's not all just social-media weirdness, though. Matt Altieri, who used to stage concerts at his home using the venue name Wacky Kastle, told Slate that shortly before he stopped in November, the police were arriving early with full knowledge of the night's plans. A venue called the Butcher Shoppe has also reportedly shut down under police pressure. And a 2012 survey of more than 1,200 law-enforcement agencies found 80 percent said they do use social media in their investigations.
"I love the Pit!" Giordano's Facebook account says, next to a generic-looking photo of a mosh pit. Does she?