I barely have words to express the horror and grief. It hits close to home; one of the victims was someone I met this summer in Calgary. Joel from Golden Donna is from Madison, he’s a stalwart of the local arts scene, and he’s a friend. I can’t even imagine the heartbreak Joel’s going through right now – when your life is dedicated to bringing joy to people through music (which his life is, and he did), and then to watch that turn to abject terror…my heart goes out to him.
We’ve played our fair share of eclectic venues over the years, but never have really thought about things like “fire safety” or “exit routes.” We’ve always trusted the promoters and venues to provide a safe and fun experience for patrons and performers; I suspect from now on many artists are going to keep these issues in the back of their mind when booking gigs.
Over the next few weeks people and the media will be looking for someone to blame. Obvious targets will be dance music patrons, and electronic music artists and promoters. Also obvious will be the building owner, and the tenants living there. Less obvious will be the root causes; housing-bubble property values and the devaluation of art that forced artists to choose between obeying zoning laws and just having a place to live and work.
I suspect things are going to get complicated. I also suspect that the wrong people will take the brunt of the punishment; the survivors, the victims, and their families will weather horror after horror and accusation after accusation as society at large fails to look introspectively at the many complex issues that led to tragedy.
Until then, we can only offer comfort to the survivors and the families of the victims.
Peace and sympathy to Oakland.