Amplified Cancels WASP Show Saturday Over Occupancy Issue with Dallas Fire Marshal

Fans of WASP had seen two opening acts on Saturday at Amplified Live when the Fire Marshal determined the venue exceeded its occupacny limits.
Fans of WASP had seen two opening acts on Saturday at Amplified Live when the Fire Marshal determined the venue exceeded its occupacny limits. Stuart Holcomb
Fans of the heavy metal band WASP got to see live performances by Armored Saint and Michael Schenker at Amplified Live, but they never got to the main event.

"There were chants for WASP and [singer and guitarist Blackie Lawless] but the house lights came up and the audience went quiet and you knew it was bad," says Stuart Holcomb, who was in the main crowd for the outdoor patio show. "The chants then turned anti-Amplified and beers were thrown. It was like they just stabbed your tires. The air just went out of the crowd."

Amplified Live general manager Alex Mendonsa says Dallas fire marshal officials told them right before WASP's set that the show could not continue because of overcrowding. The only way it could go on was if a significant portion of the crowd exited the venue.

"The right thing to do was to pull the show and issue everyone a full refund," Mendonsa says. "How do you pick certain people and say you can't come back in now? That's not fair."

Greg Spicoli Reneau, the host of KNON 89.3 FM's Reckless Rock Radio, had tickets to the second-floor balcony overlooking Amplified's patio stage and recorded a video of the crowd as Mendonsa announced over the loudspeaker that the remainder of the show could not go on as scheduled.

"Unfortunately, the occupancy has been deemed to be too high for the patio," Mendonsa says in the video to a booing crowd on Saturday.

Fire officials received a complaint from someone in the crowd at the Technology Boulevard venue on Saturday. Officials responded to the call and counted 400 people in the interior space and more than 800 in the exterior spaces. The certificate of occupancy filed last year with the city's building inspection division has an occupancy limit of 630, but Mendonsa said the capacity level listed on the venue's certificate of occupancy is "inaccurate," and he is working to get it updated. Formerly called Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, the venue rebranded itself last year.

"It's very frustrating to get emails saying, 'I hope you burn in hell' and 'I hope your cat dies,'" Mendonsa says. "It's a drag when you know in your heart of hearts you did everything you could to get the show to play."

A statement released by WASP on the group's WASP Nation website says the show "was shut down Saturday night by the Dallas Fire Department" but the department's pubic information officer Jason Evans says its office did not cancel the show. Mendonsa said he made the decision not to continue with the show and issue full refunds to everyone in attendance.

"Dallas-Fire Rescue supervision informed both the facility manager and the band manager that the occupant loads needed to be brought down to the allowable limits," according to a statement released Monday by the Dallas Fire Marshal's Office.

"We didn't try and nickel and dime anyone," Mendonsa says. "We said we're just gonna bite the bullet because everyone's been inconvenienced and just give everyone a full refund."

Dallas Police were present when guests began to leave, but the exit was orderly and peaceful.

"The crowd dispersed peacefully, but there were a lot of middle fingers and choice words thrown at the venue," Reneau says.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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