A crowd of people gathered on the front patio of Independent Bar & Kitchen's Regal Room in Deep Ellum as Medicine Man Revival neared the end of its set Saturday night. Suddenly, band manager Peter Klayman sprinted out the front door clutching a fire extinguisher and ran around the corner toward the back entrance of the building.
Minutes later, however, the crowd on the patio was swarmed as people, coughing and covering their mouths with their shirts, fled from the smoke billowing out from the Regal Room.
Inside, an electric piano had caught fire midsong. The band never stopped playing.
The piano, a 1974 Rhodes, was a recent purchase. It had been sitting in storage for decades. The band hadn't played it until earlier in the afternoon when Daniel Creamer of the Texas Gentlemen used it for a solo set at Medicine Man's Daytime Medicine showcase.
"Little did we know there was some loose ground wiring," Jason Burt, Medicine Man's guitarist, says. "Hadn't even been turned on in 30 years."
By the time Medicine Man reached the climax of its set with its new single, "Bittersweet," and closed out Daytime Medicine, the Rhodes overheated and began to smoke. Klayman was standing next to sound man and photographer Cal Quinn when it happened.
"Cal immediately went for the power source on the Rhodes," recalls Klayman, who made his way through the crowded room of dancing people to retrieve the fire extinguisher from the hostess. "I ran back the same way and looked inside the cab of the Rhodes. I saw flames behind the grill cloth, so I pulled the pin and sprayed the cab for about three seconds."
Disaster was quickly averted, and Quinn — who somehow found time to shoot video of the fire — and a couple of other bystanders removed the smoldering instrument from the stage and out the back door. Even Marcus "Mav" Roberts continued to play the Rhodes after it caught fire.
"Mavtraxx held his keyboard with one hand while playing with the other until someone gave him a keyboard stand to rest his keys on," Klayman says. "The music never stopped."
Burt was standing a few feet away from the fire when it broke out.
"From my side, there was no doubt we weren't gonna stop," he says. "In fact, I cued [the rest of the band] that we loop the outro while it was being done so there was no lull in the action."
The room, already hot and difficult to breathe in from the humidity and dancers, was full of smoke, and the area around the stage was covered in fire extinguisher powder. But while a large portion of the room made a hasty exit, those who stayed continued dancing right up front, through the smoke and powder.
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"So memorable, especially since all the people in the front gave zero fucks!" Burt says. "You either evacuated cause you were scared/smart or you kept in with us full throttle."
Soon enough, the evacuees made their way back inside for the end of the show. The episode seems only to have spurred on the members of Medicine Man.
The group played its first live show on New Year's, and it has arguably the buzziest band in Dallas this spring, packing out a series of guerrilla-style shows like the Daytime Medicine series, at places like Belmont Hotel and at the opening night of Midnight at the Nasher. It has even appeared on 91.7 KXT's Live Sessions and has a new single due to be released in July.
"No lie, the first thing I thought was that it was all perfect," Medicine Man's singer, Keite Young, says. "That's when I knew we'd leveled up. Air full of phosphate and a flaming Rhodes couldn't stop the show. Like I said, perfect."