If he wants to avoid the fate of the Disco Biscuits, whose March 19 show at the Lansdowne Street music hall ended abruptly when Boston fire inspectors and police shut the place down after inspectors found band members lighting up back stage and exits partially blocked by beer kegs and a trash barrel.
At the time, band members told nearly 2,200 fans they were ending the show early because of "technical difficulties" (see review), which club officials and police felt would reduce the chances of violence. Even so, band members promptly came under attack from "a barrage of cans and bottles," Det. Raymond Mosher told the Boston Licensing Board this morning.
The shutdown came a month after the facility was cited for letting patrons stand in front of exits and in exit aisles. The licensing board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take. Mosher said police also made several arrests before the concert, of people selling balloons of nitrous oxide, two for $25. He said the city hazmat unit was also called in to pick up six or seven 50-pound tanks of nitrous oxide.
Mosher said he didn't hesitate when inspectors asked him to shut the place down - he said he grew up reading about the Cocoanut Grove fire and recalled worrying the night of the Station nightclub fire that his son was there. But, he added, by that point, patrons "were pretty much partying hardy so I was a little bit fearful of maybe some pushback from the crowd." He said club manager Julie Jordan persuaded him not to go on stage himself to make the announcement and praised House of Blues staffers for their work in getting the crowd out. "It worked out pretty good," he said.
House of Blues attorney Dennis Quilty told the board the hall has taken several steps to address the problems, including hiring a full-time safety worker to ensure compliance with fire codes and painting lines and stripes in front of exits.
Board Chairman Daniel Pokaski said the club might want to go even further. "It amazes me you're not just including this in a contract with these tempermental band and acts that come around, that think they're above the law and can do whatever they want because they're talented or think they're talented, they're artistes," he said.
Jordan said the House of Blues now incorporates clauses in contracts with performers to hold them responsibles for any costs related to safety shutdowns they might cause. "We do have a zero tolerance, she said, adding that includes pat-downs of arriving talent.