A Rock and Roll Disaster
by Timm Carney
 

Great White is a mediocre hair band no one would remember if they hadn’t killed 100 people.  The Station was an old roadhouse in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a poor mill city about 15 minutes outside of Providence. 

In 2003 Great White set off pyrotechnics igniting the Station ending the lives of one hundred people.  This one performance by a completely forgettable band influenced Providence’s music scene forever.  The repercussions were instantaneous.  Every venue was to be thoroughly inspected and those not passing were to be immediately shut down.

Rock clubs rarely are described as nice.  They’re dumps, usually in a bad part of town.  Depending on the show, a venue can draw a huge crowd packing the place.  A packed club is the sign of a hot band.  Most rock clubs are small and the patrons are used to being crammed together.  No one knows where the exits are.  People know where to find the stage and the toilets.  They know where the bar is.  The only ways out most people know is the way they came in.

Great White’s fans/victims saw the pyrotechnic flash and the flames and applauded.  By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late.  The lights went out and full scale panic ensued.  All 300 people in the 200 person capacity club ran to the main entrance to escape.  In the dark and acrid smoke, it seemed the only way out.

The Station burned to the ground in a matter of minutes.  A local news crew happened to be in the club that night capturing much of the fire and mayhem on tape.  One of rock and rolls disasters was broadcast almost live on a national feed.

This could happen to any one of us. How many times have you been to see a band in a way too packed club?  Where’s the exit?  What would you do?

Rhode Island has subsequently enacted the strictest fire codes in America.  The smaller underground clubs took the hardest hit.  Some places had no other option but to shut down.  Sprinkler systems and illuminated exit signs aren’t cheap but they are required.  Seeing a band in Providence is defiantly a much safer experience now; but at what cost.  One hundred people had to die to make think.  We all need to use some common sense.  When you’re in a club you need to know how to get out and if you’re in a band don’t shoot off fireworks in a fucking club.

 

 

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