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Great White
{ The Station }

Wednesday, March 19, 2003 6:15:06 PM
Where: West Warwick, RI

I just read the interview with the clubs stage manager (http://www.projo.com/extra/2003/stationfire/content/projo_20030226_vanner26.97240.html) and a few things really struck me as odd. 1> It says that Paul Vanner got to the club at 3 PM and that "by the time he arrived at The Station, Great White had set up its 'back line.'" Ok, this is the first thing that caught my eye in a big way because any show I have worked usually you can't even get into the club until the stage manager is there. And even if you do get into the club before than you don't set up until the stage manager or house sound person is there. Secondly what good is it if the Stage Manager is *not* there until after the band has loaded in and already set up? A little further down it says that Vanner did not even talk to the bands road manager until they sat down for dinner that night and then they "only discussed what times the three bands scheduled that night would be on the stage." So am I reading this as Great White pulls into the club, loads in, sets up, soundchecks, breaks down/unplugs their instruments and the like, gets their stuff organized and then sits down for dinner and at no time during any of this did anyone from the band speak to the venues stage manager? Nor did the stage manager speak with them? This seems extremely odd to me. 2> It says that that night "Vanner was manning an auxiliary sound board at the side of the stage" yet he also claims that around 11 PM he was asked for a flashlight by "Dan" (Whom is described as the bands sound person in this aritcle - it actually was Robert Rager, who you can read more about here: http://www.harposconcerttheater.com/id18.htm) and that "he did not consider the request unusual; the stage area is dark as musicians make their way from a tour bus outside into the stage door and onto the stage." So far this sounds logical as I am sure anyone in the industry would agree. But then it says: "Vanner said he thinks someone with Great White set up the pyrotechnics during that darkness." and then he says: "What I surmise is just before they went onstage, the guy set it up." I have a few issues with this because if Vanner was doing monitors at the side of the stage he should have been there as everything was set up and line checks were done and so on, stage and house lights all on. The lights don't go off until the band is ready to actually come onto the stage. What Vanner claims is that in the 60 seconds (maybe?) for the band to walk onto that stage pyro was set up fully - this is including the cable runs from the charge to a box somehwere. And this was done with no other light than a flashlight, in total darkeness - so dark that no one, even someone at the side of the stage, could see this happening. I have never been in a club where it is that dark - so dark you can not see anything anywhere. Yes I can see the actual stage being dark, but even then it is not so dark that you can not see *anything*. I have also not known anyone who could string up any sort of pyro from start to finish in under what I can only guess was a minute or less. It is also strange that someone who says they were at the side of the stage did not see any sign of pyro when I have read interviews with survivors that saw pyro being set up. Read this with me: Vanner = side of stage, saw nothing. Patrons in club = saw pyro being set up, assumedly prior to the lights going off. (Also new photos being released seem to show a box possible containing pyro on a table in the crowd in front of the stage. The label on the box is "IATI 1.4"-DANGEROUS GOODS/ EXPLOSIVES) 3> Vanner is described as the "sound technician and stage manager at the club" so in addition to what I mentioned in number 1, doesn't it seem odd that not only, as the stage manager, he was not around for load in and, as the house sound guy, he seems to have allowed the bands sound person to turn on the house PA, cable and mic everything to the main board and the monitor system AND do a sound check with no word to anyone until dinner time? There is a "rule" of touring - you never walk into a venue and mess with the venues gear or stage until you talk to 1> The stage manager and 2> The house sound and lighting people. Here we seem to have both the stage manager and sound person not being there AND not saying a word to anyone about this. And there is not mention of Vanner being upset that anyone set up or touched anything without talking to him first. I know very few, actually none, sound people or stage managers that would allow this. I also know very few bands or tour managers, let alone touring sound people, who would ever think of doing this. 4> As Vanner is calling himself the clubs 'sound technician' does it not also seem odd that, on the subject of the sound proofing foam, he had nothing to do with it and describes it as "a grayish-black spongy material that sprang back slowly after being depressed."? If you are a house sound guy wouldn't you know a bit more about it? And wouldn't you want to know why it was put in? Wouldn't you also think the house sound person would have been told it was going to be put in? Also being the stage manager wouldn't you also want to know about the fire saftey issue of soemthng being done to 'your' stage? 5> Much talk about fire extiguishers and here is someone who has worked for this club, seemingly, many years saying that he "headed to the main sound board, toward the rear of the club, to get a fire extinguisher mounted there." So am I reading this as the stage manager of this club has seen fit to make sure the closest extinguisher to the stage is near the back of the club near the sound board? Than Vanner seems to determine the fire is out of control and heads for an exit in the kitchen, with said extinguisher in hand, exits the club and then tosses the extinguisher into the woods?!? This on it's own merit might be logical - in a panic and not thinking you have it in your hands and drop it when you leave - but with everything else in this piece that Vanner said this too seems odd. There are other things I find odd as well but sure maybe he never got the stage plot or, as the house sound person, the sound requirements - it could have been in the office or in someones folder or a million other places. Lord knows the amout of times I have advanced shows and been told "Never got the stage plot" or had the promoter tell me "Yep got the rider and the stage/lighting plot" but then pulled into the venue only to have the stage manager say "We never got any stage plot." Sure he could only know the nickname of someone he has supposedly worked with for years ("Scooter" the light guy - maybe he had the bands stage plot and sound/lighting requirements? Doesn't sound like Vanner even bothered to talk things over with the house light tech either) and yeah sure he could have been late getting to the club. But if all of this is true than this guy should never have been allowed to work as a stage manager and house sound person for so long. (And by no means am I trying to take away from the actual use of pyro, just that these comments from a so called 'sound technician and stage manager' seem way out of the norm.) ~Dave


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