A “Match Made in Hell”

Last Friday, Great White played the Alrosa Villa here in Columbus.  This is the rock n’ roll equivalent of the ‘perfect storm’, as the Alrosa was the site of 5 shooting deaths in 2004 during the Damageplan show (including guitarist Dimebag Darrell, the shooter Nathan Gale and 3 others) and Great White had the horrible fire started by their own pyrotechnics in 2003 at a show in West Warwick, Rhode Island that killed 100 people and injured almost 200 more.  Clearly, if God had wanted to send some sort of message, he had his opportunity on Friday.  

Industry safety expert Paul Wertheimer called the booking a “match made in Hell” and asked “Why would you would you bring those two negative forces together?”   A valid question, one that I asked myself as I pondered whether to attend the show or not.

Eventually, I chose to not go.  In the turmoil of emotions that this brought, I came to several conclusions.  First, unlike some vocal critics, I don’t blame Rick Cautela (of the Alrosa) for booking the band – he’s trying to run a nightclub and the band would be a good draw.   I’m more undecided about Great White, since if it were my band I would’ve called it quits out of respect to those who died, including guitarist Ty Longley. 

Are they wrong to keep going?  Who can say – somewhere up there Ty might have wished them to continue, to not let that nightmarish night be the last thing that was ever heard from a once great 80’s metal band. There’s something to be said for not letting adversity call the shots, especially since Great White didn’t appear to be promoting this particular appearance any differently than the rest of their 25th anniversary tour.

And no, I didn’t avoid the show out of fear. I’ve been to the Alrosa several times since the Damageplan incident, starting with a candlelight vigil the night after it all happened. I’ve hugged Rick and we’ve talked about the madness of that night – I’m not superstitious that something bad will happen again.

Yes, the venue and the band are sad reminders of events many would wish to forget. But shunning a club, and avoiding a band – neither change anything. Like swearing off flying after 9/11, you only let the negative things win if you show them fear, and let them make your choices for you. Don’t get me wrong, I truly wouldn’t dream of disrepecting the memories of anyone who died on those tragic nights. Or anyone who survived and lives with those memories. But I am glad folks chose to celebrate rock n’ roll, at that place, and even with that band. For me, however, if I’d gone it would’ve been more out of curiousity or getting caught up in the hype – all of which DID seem disrepectful.

Ultimately, I chose to spend the evening with a few friends over more than a few beers. It seemed the best choice for the evening – heck, I was never a huge Great White fan to begin with. And as for the Alrosa, I’ll be back. Mushroomhead’s coming!

And after it’s all said and done, the show went off without a hitch apparently.  Allyson Crawford has an excellent review (complete with setlist) at her site Bring Back Glam which is worth checking out.

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