Dancing About Architecture

Rave debacle leaves one dead.

Dancing About Architecture
Photo By John Anderson


Rave Off

I should've known. Whenever local techno entrepreneur Noah Balch of Ark Entertainment tries to put on a rave, something comes along to knock him on his ass. In the case of the Electric Daisy Carnival, all was set to prove that so-called raves are safe, wholesome affairs; Balch and the Austin Nightlife Coalition (ANC) had worked with the various authorities like the APD, DEA, and TABC to ensure a secure environment. Though scheduled for last Saturday, things began going afoul for the EDC in the middle of that week, and by Sunday morning it had been called off, and a 22-year-old man was dead from an apparent Ecstasy overdose. To start at the beginning, Balch says he found out Wednesday morning that his contract with the Travis County Expo Center had been voided, reportedly over insurance and regulations issues. Try as he might, by Friday he realized the Expo location was beyond saving, so he found -- then lost -- an alternative site for the event. In the absence of an official site for the EDC, an impromptu rave sprung up elsewhere late Saturday. Some involved parties claim that Balch had a role in this, but he categorically denies any involvement whatsoever. In any case, that replacement rave culminated in the death of a patron at a warehouse party at a place called Asylum, the event having been announced on the rave bulletin board www.texasbeatz.net. "EDC has not been moved to Asylum, [but] we have opted to buy out a few of the DJs to lesson the blow to Noah and the other investors. This is just another Asylum party." The message added that, "I encourage everyone to go out tonight and show your support -- especially since there is really only one place left to party in Texas." While partying at the Asylum, attendee Jason Scheiring began having seizures and was taken to Brackenridge Hospital, where he died around 4am Sunday. Toxicology results have still not come in, but press reports and the authorities are assuming his death to be drug-related. A post to www.texasbeatz.net on Monday, attributed to Asylum's Dustin Markson (who was otherwise unreachable at press time), stated his views about the tragedy: "We did what we could to keep everything under control, [even though] we only learned of the impending party situation about 10 hours before. We didn't have much time to go from accommodating only about 100 people to accommodating 4,000-plus. So please bear with me, there were some things that take time to get done and that was one thing we were out of. We were inspected by the Travis County Fire Marshal during the day, passed, and [were] given a 1,350-person count for inside, which we never went over. We tried our best to accommodate all that we could hold, but we should not be held responsible for making an event that will be similar to EDC. We know we can't handle anything like that. All we tried to do was help a few thousand people with nowhere to go. There will be a formal statement when we figure out what will be the future of Asylum. Once again drugs have ruined a good thing and a person's life." After that, the Internet flooded with infighting among what seemed to be pretty much all parties involved with the area's dance music community. Ironically, the media and the authorities are now completely up in arms over the death at the Asylum and calling for newer and tougher anti-rave laws, when, as Balch sighs, "The whole point [of the Electric Daisy Carnival] was to show that these events can be done safely and legally." The ANC's Coy West attempted to sum things up with a comment on the Internet, saying, "I still firmly believe that if this event had occurred at the Expo center as planned, Jason Scheiring would still be alive. If you try to prohibit dance music events from occurring at safe, legal venues, people will find other places to host these parties. If these massive gatherings are not structured and planned properly, accidents are bound to happen." Despite all that he's been through, and a presumably darker future for raves ahead, Balch remains undaunted and says that the Electric Daisy Carnival has been rescheduled for this Sunday at Seventh and Trinity, sound permit pending.


Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Michelle Mayfield hasn't exactly been the most high-profile amongst the local scene's female singer-songwriters, but all that changed Aug. 12. The Austin songstress raised a notable fuss when she sent out a letter to her fans regarding certain behaviors at her shows. The missive contained the following passages, which were not taken well by many fans: "At the present time, within my fanbase there is a significant group of people who have alternate sexual preferences. Please know that I appreciate my fanbase no matter who or what they are -- I, in no way, shape, or form am complaining. However, I have had several complaints from bar owners, friends, fans, and potential fans regarding the outwardly show of affection that has taken place at my shows. This type of behavior, right or wrong, reflects on me as the artist who has brought you to that club. It is very important to me to not be stereotyped, pigeonholed, or categorized in a way that will alienate anyone from listening or coming to see my shows. I do not want to become a Melissa Etheridge or a Patrice Pike (although I love them both and respect them very much as artists)." Needless to say, the letter was immediately spread to the press as well as pro-gay groups of all stripes, provoking much response. "All those dykes humping each other's legs to the rhythm of your music and whatnot; it must be terrible," wrote one. "Shall I ask Melissa Etheridge to stop wearing make-up 'cause it makes me uncomfortable or ask Patrice to stop getting tattoos 'cause it offends me?" wondered another. Within three days, Mayfield issued an apology, partially stating that, "I want everyone to know and believe that I never meant to hurt, offend, discriminate against, disrespect, or alienate anyone -- no matter their sexual preference, race, color, or gender." Hopefully, Mayfield subscribes to the notion that any press is good press, because she's certainly gotten her name out there to numerous people who had never heard of her before!


Support the Local Ministry

You never see him around, and he hasn't caused any trouble lately (that I know of, anyhow), but Al Jourgensen is still an Austinite, believe it or not. His Ministry partner Paul Barker still lives here too, and the pair of them are currently in El Paso of all places, recording a new Ministry disc due January 2003 on Sanctuary Records. When he's finished with that, Jourgensen says he has studio time booked in New York to finally record the Buck Satan album he's threatened -- er, promised -- for as long as most folks can remember. We're talking about a gimmick he's had in mind since at least back in 1994 when he played a Liberty Lunch gig under that name with Fabulous Thunderbird Preston Hubbard along for the ride, no less. Don't expect such special guests when BS makes it to the racks of your local CD shop, however. The straight-country album, which will include covers of Buck Owens and Willie Nelson tunes along with trail-pounding originals, will feature big Al on all instruments, from the steel guitar on down.


Mixed Notes

The Austin Music Commission has a new Web site, put together in order to have a way for people to contact their representatives on the commission concerning different issues facing the local music community. There's a listing of issues, along with members to contact, the minutes from past meetings, and a schedule of upcoming meetings. www.austinmusiccommission.org... The Hard Rock Cafe in Austin is seeking unsigned local bands to compete in "A Shot at the Cabo Wabo" band competition, a 12-city talent search that starts this Sunday, Aug. 25, and features four bands competing every Sunday through the finals on Sept. 15. The deadline is today, Thursday, at 8pm to submit entries. The grand prize is an all-expense paid trip to play the Cabo Wabo Mexican Meltdown with Sammy Hagar and Smashmouth, Oct. 3-6, 2002 in Cabo San Lucas Mexico. To enter, submit CD and promotional materials in person at Hard Rock Cafe, 222 E. 6th at San Jacinto. For official rules see www.hardrock.com... If you've wondered what ever happened to Juliana Sheffield since she ran off to L.A. a couple of years ago, check her out this Saturday at Stubb's as she reaches the apex of a short Austin visit... The Texas Psych folks (groups.yahoo.com/group/ TexasPsych/) are working on a Roky Erickson charity tribute CD, and they're looking for bands to contribute tracks to the limited-edition disc. The CD's will collect a $3 "gift" fee per disc for Roky, and you can contact cageorgiadis@yahoo.com to submit tracks. Meanwhile, the final lineup for Roky's birthday benefit this Sunday at the Mercury is ST 37, Knife in the Water, Lee Ann Cameron, Coffee Sergeants, Primordial Undermind, Golden Dawn, Shawn Sahm & Dave Derrick, Jad Fair & Adult Rodeo, Winslow, and Spoon...Scott McKenzie of Happy Guitars is anything but jolly, as landlord trouble continues for the business. He describes the shop as "locked out, not closed," and says that people with equipment there should contact him at 452-6239. Meanwhile, there's a benefit for Happy Guitars on Sunday at Room 710, with Tia Carrera, Jane Bond, TXTKO (feat. Hunt Sales), Dave Bone & the Troublemakers, Electric Cock, U.S.S. Friendship, and Stupid Humans... This Saturday from 9am-4pm at La Zona Rosa is the 8th Annual Hearts for the Arts Blood Drive. The Ash Family Band, McKay Brothers, Brobdingnagian Bards, and Sarah Sharpe will perform during the drive, and all blood collected goes into a fund designated for Austin musicians, other performers, those employed in entertainment support industries and their immediate families... Drowning Pool singer Dave Williams was found dead on the band's tour bus last week in Manassas, Va. The quartet from Dallas had been performing on the main stage of Ozzfest. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

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