Sexual Harassment in the PDX Music Scene

Gabriel Lund, Reporter

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Harassment in the music industry has been a growing trend within the last few decades. It is often overlooked at times, but a small example of harassment happening in the industry is the Analog Cafe located in the Hawthorne District of Portland. Last year, on May 8, 2018, Donnie Rife, the former owner of the Analog Cafe made a statement in regards to allegations that were made about him and his character. There was an image online that included statements made by him and was being shared around, more and more people, both anonymously and publically, came out to talk about their experience with the former business owner. The survivor’s encounterments varied from sexual assault to verbal abuse, as well as just the abuse of power and privilege. The women who are making the allegations about him have been bartenders, musicians that were playing in town, and even the customers that were just wanting to go to a gig or have a quick meal.


When looking at Google searches for the cafe, and the claims that were made against the owner, one of the first posts that is recommended is performers that had been cancelling their shows after the news broke out. One of the first artists to come out against the venue and the man running it was DJ Anjali and The Incredible Kid, who stated that due to the allegations, they would no longer be performing at the venue. This decision to not only seperate themselves from the cafe, but also making a public statement about it, was a bold and admirable decision.


Though they didn’t have any personal conflict with the owner during the few years they’d been performing at the venue, once they had been told by friends of what had been happening, they knew they couldn’t continue. “We knew that we had to get out, we just knew right away there was no way we were going to be affiliated with the club, at all. Even if we had not been experiencing problems, there were anonymous voices here saying these are the problems that we’d experienced.” Says Stephen Strausbaugh, also known as The Incredible Kid, when talking about the cafe. While talking to him, it was more than obvious that they would not be turning a blind eye with what they’d been hearing about. Listening to the survivors and being aware of what was happening was more important than profiting from the shows.


Sonia Weber from Alien Boy, a local emo punk band, from Portland had something to say about how to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the local music industry. “I think that making everyone aware that people are watching for that kind of behavior is important and I think it’s important for all the band and people running the show take on the responsibility of watching and protecting the show goers. As a community we also need to continue to have hard conversations with people about the ways we can be socialized to do f**ked up things and avoid conversations that are too hard and avoid the time and energy it takes to build systems that can actually make a change one day. It’s all so overwhelming but if we want to really prevent it it’ll take the whole community doing a lot of extra work/emotional labor to truly make some progress” Says Sonia Weber from Alien Boy.


Being aware of what is happening behind the scenes seems to be the most important thing for both the artist and the people attending a show. It is common for things to go unnoticed, or even ignored at shows, but being attentive of the things that are happening can play a big part in stopping harassment in the music industry.