Thursday, February 6, 2014

Killer Show

Killer Show by John Barylick is about the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed one hundred people when a pyrotechnic display ignited foam insulation around the stage as the band Great White began to play.  It's an unsettling book - so many mistakes were made by so many people.  Over the years the building had been remodeled, but inspections didn't take place.  Some exit doors were sealed (so patrons couldn't sneak in or out).  When a neighbor complained about noise, the new owners installed polyurethane foam bought from the neighbor, who - what a coincidence - worked for a foam company.  The foam was flammable.

Pyrotechnics weren't supposed to be used by bands performing at The Station, but they were.  When the fire broke out, some patrons tried to exit the overcrowded club through a door by the stage, but were turned away by a Station bouncer.

The book is well-researched and the author writes movingly about the victims and survivors.  One of the most disturbing things about the Station fire is how quickly it happened.  Within five minutes the building was engulfed.  And because a local news cameraman was on the scene (ironically filming a piece about nightclub safety), you can watch his video on YouTube.  But be prepared - it's horrifying.  And horrifying to think that this was a tragedy that could have been prevented.


  1. Hi Ann,

    Great site... thanks for having me. When this tragedy happened, I was obsessed and read everything about it. Rock and Roll plus Tragedy is one of my favorite mixtures. I got this book when it came out and I was so disappointed. It felt, to me, very dispassionate, very fact/science based, like the author was very removed from his subject.... I wanted to love this book. If folks don't remember this incident it might effect you differently. What a nightmare, what corruption, scapegoating...
    Google wants to sign me in as "LA Woman" a nickname I used for a Jodi Arias trial board. (That circus has been another obsession!) I can't seem to change it here. Oh well..

  2. I wanted to comment on your comment. I thought the book got dispassionate when the author (who was an attorney who worked on the case) got into all the legal things, but I liked the way he made the victims real and sympathetic in the beginning. And boy does Jack White come off as a clueless knucklehead. (And why didn't the video guy put down his damn camera and try to rescue people?)

    The book makes you so angry though - what a waste of all those lives.