Vandalism At St. Andrews Puts Tension On Local Music Scene

Photo courtesy of Gabby Gagliano

The music scene in New Paltz, while both renowned and beloved, has been struggling the past year to find new venues to ensure its continuation after graduation. However, the slew of sexual assault allegations, sardine-packed shows and, according to an Instgram post made on Feb. 1, reports of vandalism in well-known and respected venues have made the younger New Paltz DIY supporters hesitant to open their spaces for future events. 

Our friends at Doors at Seven, the collective that works to unite the music scenes across the Hudson Valley and Tri-State area, have filled the gaps in these sparse times by making sure the native bands have a place to play. Their most notable residency – the basement of St. Andrews Episcopal Church – has had its own troubles as of late due to noise complaints and scheduling issues, but after their monthly show on Jan. 26 the trouble came from a showgoer who decided to draw a pentagram with the word “HAIL” underneath it in the stall of the bathroom. 

While the pentagram has been used by multiple civilizations across the course of human history like Ancient Babylon and Egypt, and is particularly important to modern Wiccan practices, it has been long dismissed by the Catholic Church for having associations with evil and the devil. 

“It felt deliberate,” said Allison Moore, who has been the Priest in Charge at St. Andrews since Feb. 2020 and a huge supporter of the scene. “I have no problems with Wiccan culture, and this may not have been done by a Wiccan, but it is offensive in the context of the Catholic Church. I really do want the space to be used by the community and I love the fact that we have young music here, but I don’t want something like this to happen again. Whoever this is, you’re going to ruin a good thing.” 

Moore, while dedicated to her faith, understands that Christianity is a highly contested religion that has left many demographics out of its practices. She tries very hard to make sure that minority populations feel included and appreciated at St. Andrews and dedicates her sermons to unity, peace and love for all. 

The Episcopal Church is similar to the Roman Catholic Church in its weekly worship, but its structure differs from many Christian churches in not having a fixed body of doctrine which all Episcopalians must believe. Faith and conscience are formed in community through worship, Scripture, and tradition, and individuals can have widely differing views, coming together around their love of Christ. The Constitution and Canons, which can change in response to changes in culture and understanding, now ordain women and LGBTQIA+ people and allow same-sex marriages.

“The members of Saint Andrews have opened their arms and their space to us to help us provide a SAFE SPACE in town for music for people of all ages to enjoy” read the Doors at Seven instagram post on Feb. 1 that addressed the incident that occurred the previous weekend. “This behavior is not tolerated at our shows and will never be. It isn’t cool to vandalize safe spaces. We respect people of all backgrounds, identities and faith. Music is for everyone and nothing should ever come between that. Situations like this make it hard for us to continue wanting to host shows in New Paltz.” 

Local bands with smaller followings already have a difficult time finding places to play, with Bacchus and Snugs only having a few nights a week for live music and student house venues dwindling. Situations like this threaten the likelihood that these bands will be able to grow their following and find a more secure footing within the scene. 

“This was definitely not a good look for the scene as a whole,” said John Roy, frontman for local ska/punk band O-RAMA and an all-too-familiar face in the mosh pits at local shows. “The people that attend these shows represent the DIY scene. It’s their responsibility to respect places that aren’t theirs, and they shouldn’t be allowed there if they don’t. If people can have an attitude of respect in their friends’ house, they should be able to apply that same respect to public spaces where people are borrowing it for the sake of music.” 

St. Andrews has yet to pull their support for Doors at Seven, and there has been a show there following the vandalism incident with no public issues. Hopefully things can continue in this manner. 

About Gabby Gagliano 52 Articles
Gabby is a third-year, digital media production major. This is her first semester as Sports Editor and her third semester at The Oracle.