Jake Mcelfresh, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter who performs under the name Front Porch Step, was assumed to have dropped out of Warped Tour’s traveling lineup after he was accused of sexual misconduct earlier this year.
But during the tour’s stop in Nashville, he performed in the acoustic basement tent, flanked by security. His appearance drew criticism from fellow Warped Tour acts, even causing the Wonder Years’ Dan “Soupy” Campbell to cancel his set. Campbell’s bandmate, Nicholas Steinborn, tweeted, “@Frontporchstep Your arrogance is mindblowing.”
Hayley Williams of Paramore also tweeted in response to a fan. “I still believe in you, scene. Demand better bc you deserve better. No more excuses for boys just ‘being boys,'” she wrote.
“If you have any dignity or respect for this music scene, you should not be watching @Frontporchstep’s set at Warped Tour today in Nashville,” Beartooth’s Taylor Lumley wrote on Twitter. He continued:
During his set in Nashville, fans heckled Mcelfresh with obscenities. He can be heard addressing the crowd in a video taken by SwitchBitchRecords. “Hey, I’m not going to waste my time and play where you don’t want to see me. Listen we have one thing in common. I don’t know a thing about you and you don’t know a thing about me.”
Earlier this year, multiple young women stepped forward and accused McElfresh of sexual misconduct, alleging he sent sexually explicit text messages and exchanged nude photographs with underage women. (Alt Press has a full list of allegations.) McElfresh then responded to the accusations in a lengthy statement on Facebook. “As for the Allegations, they are just that – allegations and not charges,” he wrote. “To be associated with words like child molester, pedophile, and rapist – are disgusting and deplorable and I am neither and NEVER will be.”
A Change.org petition called for the removal of Front Porch Step from Warped Tour’s bill this summer, and tour founder Kevin Lyman seemed to imply on Twitter that he would not appear on the lineup. Lyman did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. In response to a fan’s question on Twitter, however, he did write that Front Porch Step would not appear during the Warped Tour stop in Charlotte on July 7.
This isn’t the first time Warped Tour has had an issue with acts accused of sexual misconduct and assault, as Paul Adler expertly chronicled on Medium.