SSD allegations: six months on in the Newcastle music scene

Evie Lake reports on the recent developments in the SSD allegations

Evie Lake
14th October 2021
In March 2021, SSD Concerts, one of the largest music promoters in the North East, had their Instagram hacked and numerous posts were shared detailing previous employees experiences with the company. The testimonies ranged from never being paid on time to the owner of SSD, Steve Davis, being accused of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment.

Following this, Steve Davis resigned as managing director, pending an investigation into the complaints. However he remains listed as the active director of SSD, as well This is Tomorrow LLT, which runs the Newcastle festival of the same name.

After the accusations, SSDs involvement in the This is Tomorrow festival was withdrawn. However, despite stating they handed the running of the festival over to Kilimanjaro, many claim that SSD was still majorly involved

So, music fans took to This is Tomorrow’s Instagram to enquire about SSDs involvement in the festival. However, any comment mentioning the promoter was deleted and, in some instances, users were blocked entirely. 

Many acts set to play the festival withdrew (Goat Girl, PICNIC), whilst headliners Sam Fender and Nadine Shah decided to play the festival ‘for the fans’, with Shah specifically stating that she ‘believes every woman’ but doesn’t want ‘another female not present on a mainstage’. Fender took to social media to demand an inquiry into the allegations. Fontaines D.C. donated their fee to Women's Aid Newcastle.

An investigation into the allegations was promised immediately following the hacking, but over six months later there has been no such update. And so, music fans are starting to look at the company’s next festival, the venue-based Hit the North.

A tweet by the Geordie band Ten Eighty Trees on Twitter saw them expose that SSD was still heavily involved in the event, despite claiming not to be, with an SSD email address stating tickets for the event had ‘sold really well’. 

Responding to a tag in the Ten Eighty Trees tweet, Black Honey responded: ‘We’ll look into it, but we were told the bad guys were fired? Is that not the case??’

Since these tweets, SSD has themselves posted directly about Hit the North. They have also posted a seemingly dated lineup.

The ongoing saga has left the Newcastle music scene in disarray, with many adamant about boycotting SSDs venues (Riverside, Think Tank, Surf Cafe, Unit 12) and their events such as Hit the North. However, this appears to be impacting artists independent of SSD. 

Notably, indie artist, Orla Gartland tweeted that her gig at Newcastle’s Riverside was her worst-selling show, inciting fans to buy tickets to the show otherwise she ‘will never return’. She has since replied that SSD is not promoting the show, and Riverside remains the venue due to a lack of availability. 

The boycotting and rearrangements pose a threat to the Newcastle music scene. Tits Upon Tyne is a Community Interest Company that has been a dominant force on social media surrounding the allegations. 

“The promoters and agents down south are continuing to give work to SSD, usually under one of their alternative names, totally unaware of the income going directly into their venues and the current community boycott that has taken place as a last resort.”

“Gatekeeping the online conversation from their social media accounts has controlled the narrative elsewhere to an extent; a load of bullshit from the director claiming enough for touring bands to think something has been done but then them going on to their next venture, not actually ensuring the claims have been met or enforced.”

“It is of the utmost importance that bands recognise that choosing to play an SSD show or venue under the guise of it being a new promoter (GNE) is actively putting fans and staff at risk. There has been no communication with the community regarding the private investigation and what proactive steps have been taken to change the deep-rooted issues within the company. To make things worse, the extensive lying has isolated locals within the scene from work outside of the boycott which is further monopolising SSD’s hold”

They concluded: “We want to see change and accountability but the total dismissal of hundreds of voices has been hard, to say the least. It’s at the point now where, as a community, the poor treatment of valid concerns and lack of communication has been insulting and just rude. So much has been brushed under the rug at others expense, it’s getting hard to ignore that now.”

SSD were contacted for a statement.

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