Last night at Bourbon Street Live in Baltimore was a combination of awesome and tragic. 

Awesome: Zombie Strippers and Beer show on The Quarter side.

It was a show that was reminscent of the good ol' local music days in Baltimore. That was a several-year period in this city when I absolutely loved it here and couldn't imagine wanting to live anywhere else. I've been losing hope that Baltimore will ever go back to that period again any time soon, but then shows like last night happen. Nowadays, it seems like we only have nights like this two or three times a year, which is a huge contrast to back when we had that many amazing things all going on just in one night on an almost-daily basis. So when we do have a show like last night's, it gives people hope and reminds us of the good times. We really appreciate it. The bands were great and so were the people in attendance. Combine that with a great venue and you can't really ask for more. 

 

Joe from Eat Your Neighbors put it together and he did not disappoint. I've known him for several years now and was fortunate enough to be a part of several events he organized back in my Skitzo Calypso days, including some Halloween shows. (Remember The Masquerade Ball at The Vault?) He always puts together great bands for unique events. It's also fun for the bands and people who attend. And he really goes above and beyond what he *has* to do because you can tell he truly loves the Baltimore music scene. He really treats everyone well and gets everyone really pumped for an exciting night. 

Tragic: Stabbing next door at The Ballroom

For those unfamiliar with how Bourbon Street Live is set up, let me explain. The building is divided in half. There's The Quarter side, which is to the right when you're in front of the building. And there's The Ballroom, which is on the left. The two sides are mirror images of each other. For some events, the doors in the middle of the club are open so that people can go back and forth between both sides. More often, the two sides are closed and have separate entrances and covers. Our side was a rock concert. The Ballroom had a Ladies' Night, which I am told is a hip-hop dance party. These events were separate.

It was after 1am last night and I was on The Quarter side, sitting at the bar in the back, listening to Forgive The Fallen, and talking to my friends. Lara was working at that bar. She opened the door to the other side to get some more alcohol. She came back noticably shaken. She said she wasn't serving anymore beer that night because she'd have to go to The Ballroom side for more and a stabbing had just happened. I thought to myself that she couldn't have said stabbing, though she said it very clearly. Someone else then came up to the bar to try to order a beer and she told them the same thing, which instantly made me know that she really did say it and it was serious. When you see the emotion on a person's face and hear it in her voice, it's clear to even the most skeptical person that it's not an April Fool joke. During the next few minutes, people on our side tried to leave to go home. Most of whom were leaving didn't even know what happened, but word quickly got around because we were not allowed to leave. The police outside were making everyone stay inside. A few more minutes went by and the staff turned the sound off to the band and announced that everyone had to leave immediately for our safety. The staff members that I saw were very professional and calm considering what was happening. As soon as we got outside, it was immediately apparant just how serious the situation was. There were countless police and more arriving on the scene. There were many police on horses. Roads were shut down. I could see and hear absolute chaos on the other side while looking through The Ballroom doorway. People were trampled on top of each other. I saw crying, yelling, screaming, hopelessness, and panic. Just like us, people weren't allowed to leave on The Ballroom side at first. But when they were allowed to go, it was chaos. I've seen police react to situations before, but you could definitely tell they had a much different demeanor than those times. It really gave us all a sense of the severity. We stood and watched from the parking lot across the street what was happening. What was weird is that I didn't see anyone leave The Ballroom for the first few minutes because of being trampled on one another, but a police officer came up to our group. She yelled at an African-American man and asked which side of the club he came from. When we all said "The Quarter! He's wearing a Slipknot hoodie!" to her, she left. I'm not sure if he happened to match the description of someone, but I found that odd. I'm not making any accusations here; I'm just telling you what we all saw happen. I want to give the officer the benefit of the doubt, as I know they were dealing with total disorder and a serious, violent crime. But you could tell it made the man feel weird and we all felt odd about it, too. I also noticed police going up to some other African-American men who came from our side. I did not see them go up to anyone else, but I also did not hear what they were saying to them. Those few minutes after the crime resulted in a lot of "What? That didn't just happen, did it?" moments. 

I saw a lot of my friends leave the club safely, so my group of friends and I decided it was time to leave to go to Nam Kang. This was also the time we started finally seeing some people able to leave The Ballroom side. And then we saw more and more come out. My friends decided we needed to leave immediately and as fast as possible. Understandably, the people on the other side were so emotional and trying to leave quickly as well, and we knew that if we waited it would be chaotic. I tried to back out of my parking spot and other cars were just quickly leaving, driving the wrong way and there were many almost-accidents in that lot.  I think a mix of the emotions and the sense of urgency people felt made them not look where they were driving. And this was just with the few first who got out. I imagine it was much worse after more people were leaving.  I can't say I blame them, but we wanted to get out of there ASAP. As we drove to Nam Kang, we saw even more police driving to the scene of the crime.

More awesomeness: Nam Kang

Nam Kang is an awesome Korean restaurant that stays open until 4am and I really appreciated it last night. It was great to be with a group of friends, most of whom were at the show, so we could talk about what just happened in a calm environment.

Here's a photo of us:

My thoughts: Great night overall

When I look back on last night, I will remember what I witnessed, but I think I'll focus more on the great time that I had. Part of me is really happy that we had a great night for the Baltimore music scene and that makes me remember why I loved this city so much. But then another part of me realizes that the crime and negatively affects all of us who live here, even if we aren't directly the victim. Forgive the Fallen's set was cut short. To The Fight were unable to perform at all and I was really looking forward to seeing them. A lot of hard work with great intentions were never seen, and some that were seen and heard only got overshadowed by the tragedy. But I know this all sounds like unnecessary whining, considering what the actual victims went through and what the people in attendance on the other side endured. My condolences go out to the victims, their loved ones, and the people who were stuck on The Ballroom side. I just think of how shaken everyone on our side was and we only witnessed the riotious aftermath. I can only imagine how those who were a part of it and witnessed the stabbing and/or saw the victims felt.

The Baltimore Sun reports that four men were stabbed and one died: Man dead, three others wounded in stabbing at Bourbon Street Live

I want to stress that people shouldn't feel unsafe about attending rock shows at Bourbon Street Live. I've been there many times since shortly after their debut and have never had any issues. I've never seen anyone being violent. The few jerks who were there were handled properly by the staff, and were mostly just angry drunks, from what I had seen. I really cannot comment on any of the dance parties that were there, since I never attended any. My point is that I hope this doesn't make anyone who would otherwise attend a concert there cancel their plans or get the wrong idea about Bourbon Street. The staff and the venue itself are great. 

Eat Your Neighbors are working on a zombie strippers film at the moment. They are casting people, so if you're interested, contact them on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eatyourneighbors. Here's a video that promoted last night's show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np4Gpglwrww

The next great local music show I'm aware of will be the Mobtown Music Fest on April 30th, organized by Kevin of Loving the Lie. Be there.