An arrest leaves people in the music community “feeling pretty betrayed.”
Editor’s note: If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, we encourage you to use the following support resources:
Crisis Text Line
http://www.facebook.com/crisistextline (chat support)
SMS: Text “HERE” to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
To report a missing child or an instance of child pornography, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC):
In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault provides further information on localized resources:
A regular booker of shows in the Madison and Milwaukee areas has been arrested on child pornography possession charges.
Michael R. Burmeister was arrested on Friday, August 11 in Lodi, where he lives. A Facebook post from Lodi police stated that a search warrant was executed Friday at Burmeister’s home and that “additional charges are likely.” State circuit court records updated on Tuesday indicate that Burmeister faces four felony counts of possession of child pornography in Columbia County and has been released on bond. Attorney Derek Brown, listed in court documents as Burmeister’s defense lawyer, did not reply to a request for comment for this story.
Reporters for WKOW and the Lodi Enterprise were able to dig up more detail about the investigation and criminal complaint that led to Burmeister’s arrest. “According to the criminal complaint, the charges stem from a tip received by Lodi Police on Sept. 14, 2022 from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), regarding information received from Facebook of a user suspected of accessing sexually abusive material involving pubescent and prepubescent girls,” the Lodi Enterprise‘s Jonathan Stefonek writes.
Through the fanzine/promotions moniker Adrenaline Armory, Burmeister has hosted shows and meetups at Madison venues including Crucible and BarleyPop Live, and at assorted venues in the Milwaukee area.
Crucible issued a public statement on Saturday afternoon via its Facebook page:
We have recently learned of serious charges against Michael Burmeister, who has worked for us and hosted events at our venue. We are shocked and appalled by this, and are cutting all ties, effective immediately. We will reach out to bands and performers associated with specific events, who we believe to be blameless in this, and there will be changes to the calendar coming.
Burmeister hosted frequent events at Crucible including metal shows, charity events, and burlesque nights and worked the door there intermittently, says Crucible owner Greg Kveberg.
“Everybody is in shock, as far as I can tell,” Kveberg says. “There were a lot of people I’ve known across the spectrum who considered him just a stand-up guy and a friend.”
The accusations would be upsetting in any context, and the shockwaves are particularly stinging for a venue like Crucible. Since its opening in 2018, it’s been a place by and for tight-knit niche scenes, including but not limited to the goth and industrial-music sets. It also hosts regular kink and fetish nights, which means placing a heavy emphasis on safety, consent, discretion, and inclusivity.
“There are a whole bunch of people across the spectrum who are feeling pretty betrayed right now,” Kveberg says. “I think it’s just a situation where communities are gonna re-knit together and are going to heal, and we’re going to move on from this.”
Kveberg says he first heard the news of Burmeister’s arrest on Saturday morning, and until that point had not heard any concerns about Burmeister. “At no point in his public-facing life was there any sign of any kind of inappropriate behavior or anything, and that’s why it comes as so much of a shock,” Kveberg says.
“We’re just going to try to, I don’t know, rebuild communities that are pretty much reeling right now, Kveberg adds. “People are really hurt by this.”
Burmeister is also employed as an IT support staffer for the Department of History at UW-Madison. Department administrators sent an email to staff on Friday that did not name Burmeister, but stated: “You may have recently seen news coverage of a History Department staff member who has been accused of serious criminal misconduct,” and went on to say that the employee in question “has been placed on administrative leave and will not be present in the workplace.”
Burmeister has also booked at several Milwaukee-area venues, which are also distancing themselves. “We only worked with Mike a couple of times on events he reached out to us about, and our willingness to let him host events was based on his existing relationship with established venues in Madison,” says Justin Wexler, co-owner of X-Ray Arcade in Cudahy. Wexler notes that “[X-Ray Arcade] had absolutely no idea about any of this when we let him host events in our space and we will not be working with him ever again.”
Adrenaline Armory has a September show booked at the beloved Cactus Club, in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. Cactus Club owner Kelsey Kaufmann also stressed that the venue didn’t have much of a relationship with Burmeister and that that show would go on without his involvement. “I’ve never met him,” Kaufmann says. “All of the artists booked for that show are also not associated with him.”
While much of the contact info listed on Adrenaline Armory’s website and Facebook pages appear to be connected with Burmeister, there are other people involved in the group. Efforts to reach them for this story were unsuccessful, but the Adrenaline Armory Facebook page did post about the arrest on Saturday, stating, “UNFOLLOW THIS PAGE. DO NOT SUPPORT MIKE.”
Christina Lieffring contributed to reporting for this story.
Help us publish more weird, questing, brilliant, feisty, “only on Tone Madison” stories