Hedley fan’s Charene Gonschorek, left, and Brandon Krys show their support for the band before the final concert of their current tour in Kelowna on Friday, March 23. (Jeff Bassett/The Canadian Press)

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in Kelowna before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Prospera Place

Hedley’s frontman suggested Friday that the group’s “indefinite hiatus” may not be permanent as the pop-rockers closed out their tour’s final show in Kelowna under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.

“This is goodnight, not goodbye,” Jacob Hoggard told boisterous fans. “So stay in our lives. And Kelowna, I will promise I will stay in yours.”

The floor seats at Prospera Place were mostly filled, but the arena had large empty spaces in the stands.

READ MORE: Hedley withdraws from Junos, plans to discuss ‘how we have let some people down’

READ MORE: Refunds given out for Hedley concerts

The day before the concert, the venue said about 3,000 tickets had sold and shows there tend to hold a maximum of roughly 5,000.

Hoggard has denied ever engaging in non-consensual sexual behaviour, but he admits he has behaved in a way that objectifies women.

The group has been dropped by its management team, blacklisted by scores of radio stations and abandoned by musicians booked as tour openers.

Ahead of the Kelowna show, fans were handing out flyers in support of the band.

Laura Carruthers made 3,000 photocopies asking people to sign a petition urging radio stations to reinstate airplay for the band.

She was in the parking lot outside the arena handing out the pages, which have the phrase #istandforhedley written on them with hearts drawn in red glitter.

“I’ll always be standing by them. Because it’s allegations, it’s not actually a charge yet,” Carruthers said.

Valerie Rivet, who travelled from Ottawa to see her favourite band for the 33rd time, said the accusations against Hoggard haven’t been proven, and if they ever are, she would re-evaluate her love of the band.

“Twitter is not a court of law,” she said. “For now I stand with them.”

Kris Jerstad was standing outside Prospera Place with two $75 floor seats he was hoping to sell.

He said his daughter bought them months ago, but no longer wanted them after the allegations against Hoggard came to light.

“She’s refusing to see them,” he said. “She sticks to what she believes in.”

Minutes before the show started, Jerstad gave away the tickets to a woman for free and left.

Toronto police have said they are investigating Hoggard, but no charges have been laid.

Online accusations began surfacing last month suggesting inappropriate encounters with young fans.

A 24-year-old Ottawa fan of the band alleged to the CBC in February that she was sexually assaulted by Hoggard after chatting with him on the dating app Tinder and agreeing to meet him at a hotel in Toronto.

The CBC published another report weeks later of a Toronto woman who alleges Hoggard tried to force her to do things without her consent during a sexual encounter in 2016.

A Calgary radio host has also alleged that Hoggard groped her and made lewd remarks to her seven years ago.

In announcing he would be putting his career on hold, Hoggard said he would make real changes in his life, seeking guidance from his family and learning from the “amazing women in my life.”

“The way I’ve treated women was reckless and dismissive of their feelings. I understand the significant harm that is caused not only to the women I interacted with, but to all women who are degraded by this type of behaviour,” he wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account Feb. 28.

“I have been careless and indifferent and I have no excuse. For this I am truly sorry.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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