Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dancefloor Diaries: The Fuse is Lit Show



The day was Friday, August 17th 2001. I was at home, in bed with a high fever when the phone rang, shaking me from a deep sleep. Between the fever and the double dose of NyQil, I wasn't very coherent for the first few moments of the call as I babbled gibberish into the phone. The first thing I remember clearly was the caller saying to me "...what? Are you fucking serious? Who is this? You're not making any sense."

I sat up in bed and immediately felt the room spinning around me. "This is Ronny. Who is this?"

The caller was Jon Hennessee, and he was looking for Dave Byrd. He was calling the right number, as I lived with Byrd the first year I moved down to the Washington DC area. All I knew at that time was that Byrd was going to a show that night. I relayed that much to Hennessee.

I always liked Hennessee, so I couldn't figure out why he had suddenly called me out of the blue and was yelling into the phone at me. I didn't take it personally. I knew it was an issue that he had with Byrd, although I didn't know exactly what the issue was.

The last thing Hennessee told me before he hung up was "give Dave this message. The next time I see him, it will come to blows."

The next day I got the full story. Byrd was involved with, some say the ringleader of, an unplanned indoor pyrotechnical display at the Darkest Hour show at St. Andrews Church in College Park the night before. The result was the show got shut down and the venue was closed to hardcore shows for a while.

As I got the story, I remembered Byrd showing me a huge cache of fireworks that he and the Striking Distance boys had picked up a few weeks before when the band was on the southern swing of a tour. It wasn't hard to do the math after that. A few weeks later, Byrd immortalized the night in song, writing the lyrics to "The Fuse is Lit," which would appear on Striking Distance's second EP.

The Fuse is Lit

The time has come tonight we’ll self-destruct
The fuse is lit going to watch it all erupt
The verdict is out, changing sides so fast
Ignorance comes easy now burning bridges collapse

So safe at home
Being on your thrown,
Is all you’ve ever known
We fight the battles your words will never fight

There’s nothing you can do but waive your fuckin flag
No guts with a brain will leave you in your tracks
I’m giving back every word you said
Think you’re alive but all the catchy slogans are dead

So safe at home
Being on your thrown,
Is all you’ve ever known
We live in the trenches
Where the battles are won

(We fight the battles your words will never fight)

Out of sight, out of touch, now you’re the 'Has Been'
Using the scene as a crutch
When words turn to war you’re the first to run
(now everything’s undone)
We fight, and you quit, and your actions
Prove you never really gave a shit
So, 'These are the days'?
Well, at least, not for you.


There was a shady promoter running this venue in College Park, MD called St. Andrews Church. Let me preface by saying that this venue was originally secured by Steve No Justice and another guy who did a few awesome shows there until the shady promoter took the venue from them. How could this be done? Well, he (Mr. Shady) called up the owner and told her that all this bad stuff was going on at their shows and that he would be a better person to control the happenings at the venue (Venues are hard to come by in the DC area, so this was a major scandal). Also, let it be known that this guy had put us on a couple of local shows (not at St. Andrews) and NEVER offered to pay us. In fact, he would leave the show early to avoid us. He starts booking bigger independent bands and the popularity of the venue grows exponentially.

My major problem with the whole situation stems to the simple fact he was making a killing ($7,000-8,000) per show while the bands received much less. I happened to know the venue cost $200 to rent out, plus another $200 for sound. St. Andrews has a capacity of 800 people. He would charge $10 for a show and 800 people would show up which would equate to $8,000 with $400 to 500 in costs. He would pay the bands the minimum amount and pocket the rest, usually leaving with $6,000. He even quit his day job because he was making so much money. So for me, it all came down to fairness and the basic ‘punk rock’ ethic. He didn’t treat bands fairly, and he didn’t treat the DC area people fairly. For me hardcore, punk, or whatever should not be a means to someone’s pocket. I know it happens on a grand scale everyday, but I saw this as something I could change and something that I was an integral part of and very important to me, the DC scene.

So, some friends and I conjured up ways we could put an end to this because we (Jon Hennessee included) were all pretty fed up with what was going on. In all sincerity, we could have just walked into one of his shows, told him it was shut down, and started beating people up to seal the deal (the cops would have shown up…etc). Instead, we thought of something funnier to do, see, we had a shit load of fireworks and thought we would create an apocalyptic scene at an upcoming Darkest Hour show. About 10 of us all had fireworks and we all agreed to light them after the 4th Darkest Hour song (they were headlining band). When the fireworks started going off, most of the kids were into it, but it was the promoter who stopped the show. Some other kids decided to jump one of my friends so we defended him. Jon H. tried to fight me, and we got a lot of shit for doing this by some other ‘friends’ who in the past were critics of this promoter, but took his side. Hypocrites. Brian McTernan criticized us, but didn’t have the sense to call me to ask me what the motivations behind the action were. So basically, that’s what ‘The Fuse is Lit’ is all about. Taking action, getting shit for it, and calling out ‘holier than thou’ friends.

-- Dave Byrd

I wasn't a fan of any of the bands playing. The main reason for my going to this show was to get Zao merch for my girlfriend. at the time, she kinda liked them. they're not for me, but whatever. My friend James (singer of Shitfit and fellow school mate) came and picked me up and off we went. On our trip up to the show, he kept telling me something was going to 'go down'. Something about beef with the promoter and some local bands. About 15 minutes later we arrive and we find Carimus, Tru, Eric Mann and some other dudes (possibly Mike Stankovich and Dave Byrd). One of them had a backpack full of fire crackers. Just your standard fare along with 'jumpin' jubilees, ya know, the spinning type things that emit a rainbow of color while having what seems like an epileptic fit. At this point i was pretty giddy cause I love firework like I love cake, but also, I didn't like Darkest Hour. Musically. They're not bad, but as people, I thought they were the worst.

To backtrack here a minute; when i first moved to DC i had met James at a school function for new students. Anyway, we met, and quickly became friends. Not knowing the city, he'd come to my place and then we'd take the metro to shows in DC. About two weeks being in DC we took a metro to U st. for a Black Cat show and on the very train car as ours were the dudes from Darkest Hour. Now, they may be cool people or whatever, and I sincerely don't personally know them, but they came off as the biggest, egotistical jerks ever. They had just signed with Victory (which is a kiss of death for any band) and thought they were the hottest shit since microwaveable pizza. They just gave me a bad vibe, and since then I've had a negative reaction /opinion towards them.

Fast forward to the show; after seeing the goods I couldn't wait to see what was to happen. I don't think we saw one band play, and if memory serves well, i think Zao either cancelled or were to go on after Darkest Hour. Anyway, Darkest Hour sets up and starts playing. About one to two songs in their set, the firecracker and assorted goodies were lit and launched into the crowd. The smell of sulfur was intoxicating for me and accompanying cloud of smoke would of, I guess, been perfect for such a 'metal' band as Darkest Hour. No one in the crowd really knew what was going on.

The band stopped and I guess the promoter got on stage and started screaming into the mic. This is where things get hazy, but if i remember correctly he jumped off the stage to try and stop the melee from going any further, grabbed someone and then somebody else came up behind him (Jamie, the Promoter) and just smashed the dude with a collapsible metal chair like Hulk Hogan would have done to the Iron Sheik. It didn't take long until the dude was on the ground and bleeding.

I don't know if we saw him later that nite. We just hung around for a bit then exited the building in no hurry. Later an ambulance stopped by and I think took the dude of in a stretcher. I'm not real sure what happened to that place after that show, but i think they no longer held anymore events after that.

-- Chris Alpino

Ok, I remember that there was a dedication show that night literally across the street, and I remember that that show ended kinda early, so my friend Pat and I went over to the Darkest Hour show. I don't even know who played, I think a band I may have liked a bit was playing. Those shows were always so well attended, so Pat and I thought that we would just see who was there and say Hi to some friends and leave. Turns out, we got in for free, and I remember it being a decent sized crowd, and I remember Jon Hennesee acting very anxious, and running around to and fro.

I was standing along the side wall talking to Tru, and all of a sudden it was like fucking Apocalypse Now in there. It sounded like machine guns going off. I thought it was maybe part of Darkest Hour's show, but they looked puzzled, too. Kids started rushing for the exits, and I think I a few small fights broke out, too.

The music stopped, and Jamie the promoter yelled "EVERYONE GET THE FUCK OUT!"

Tru and I looked at each other and walked through the chaos and out the back door. I remember people looking really confused, and there was a stink of sulphur in the air. A few days later, jamie called me to ask if I knew anything about what happened. He got the same story I just told you.

-- Gus Bowman

Fireworks, and me running cause I thought it was gunshots. I remember this one girl caught something in the face, and went running out the door to the left of the stage. And I remember John Heneesee being very very very pissed about all of this. That's really all I remember, cause we b-lined out of there and back to American University.

My opinion, and coming from a guy who has never ever made one cent off of 'hardcore' shows, Jaimie Aurthurs had to be stopped in some way, and it came to this...and it worked! This may have ruined a venue in the area, but it ended an even worse monopoly.

-- Danny Third District


If you were at this show as well, and you have anything you'd like to share about the night, please be sure to post a comment below to add to the thread. Please leave your name, or at least a creative or funny psuedo name. I hate seeing the word "annonymous" in the comments section.

I'm also looking to make Dancefloor Diaries a feature on Barebones Hardcore. If you have any interesting shows in mind that you think would make a good story (aside from the obvious ones, like the "Shut Down" show at CBGB's), please get in touch.

Thanks!
Ronny

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