Feist leaves Arcade Fire tour after Win Butler sex abuse allegations


Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist says she is leaving an international tour with Arcade Fire after several people accused the band’s frontman, Win Butler, of sexual misconduct.

The allegations, which Butler denies, surfaced in a lengthy investigation by Pitchfork that was published shortly before the start of Arcade Fire’s tour with Feist through Europe and North America. Feist played two dates with the band before deciding to drop out.

“I’ve always written songs to name my own subtle difficulties, aspire to my best self and claim responsibility when I need to,” Feist said in a tweet Thursday. “And I’m claiming my responsibility now and going home.”

Pitchfork’s story detailed the experiences of four young Arcade Fire fans who said Butler took advantage of their gaps in age and power dynamics in a series of unwanted sexual interactions between 2015 and 2020.

Three women said Butler sent them unwanted, sexually explicit messages when he was in his late-30s and they were between 18 and 23. A fourth person who is gender-fluid said Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015, when they were 21 and he was 34.

Pitchfork reported that the fans’ accounts were backed up by screenshots of messages and interviews with friends and family.

Butler, now 42, acknowledged having sexual interactions with the four people but said they were consensual. “It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise,” he told Pitchfork.

Feist said she learned of the allegations after rehearsing with her band for a pair of shows in Dublin. It presented her with a moral dilemma, she said.

“We didn’t have any time to prepare for what was coming let alone a chance to decide not to fly across the ocean into the belly of this situation,” she wrote.

“To stay on tour would symbolize I was either defending or ignoring the harm caused by Win Butler,” she said, “and to leave would imply I was the judge and jury.”

At the first two shows opening for Arcade Fire, Feist donated all merchandise proceeds to Women’s Aid Dublin, an advocacy group that helps domestic violence victims in Ireland.

She decided to quit altogether, she said, after hearing from people close to her who voiced “sympathy for the dichotomy I have been pushed into.”

“This has ignited a conversation that is bigger than me, it’s bigger than my songs and it’s certainly bigger than any rock and roll tour,” Feist wrote.

She added: “It can be a lonely road to make sense of ill treatment. I can’t solve that by quitting, and I can’t solve it by staying. But I can’t continue.”

An Arcade Fire representative could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. In a statement to Pitchfork, the band said it was “sorry to see Leslie go home, but completely understand and respect her decision.”

Arcade Fire’s social media accounts have been silent since Pitchfork first reported the sexual misconduct allegations. The band has won multiple Grammys and its records have been certified gold. Butler’s wife, Régine Chassagne, is a member of the band.

Several radio stations in North America, including Canada’s largest public broadcaster, have pulled the Canadian band’s discography from their rotations in the past week in response to the allegations. Some fans have urged others to boycott the tour and have called on the live entertainment behemoth Ticketmaster to issue refunds for concert tickets.

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