Fox news is reporting that at least 200 people were killed in a nightclub fire in southern Brazil early Sunday morning. There are conflicting reports as to the number of concert goers killed, with some estimates over 250.
Luiza Sousa, a civil police official in Santa Maria, told Reuters the blaze at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria started when a member of the band or its production team ignited a flare, setting fire to the ceiling. The fire spread “in seconds,” Sousa said.
As is usual with a scene of this magnitude, there is some confusion as to the source of the fire. Col. Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defense stated that the acoustical insulation caught fire during the pyrotechnic display, but stopped short of blaming it for the blaze, saying the cause was still under investigation.
Firefighters at the scene were using sledge hammers and axes to knock down exterior walls to open up more exits from the building. In television footage from the scene families and friends could be seen sobbing and searching for information outside a nearby sporting complex, where bodies were taken for identification.
“It was really fast. There was a lot of smoke, really dark smoke,” survivor Aline Santos Silva, 29, told Globonews TV. “We were only able to get out quickly because we were in a VIP area close to the door.”
President Dilma Rousseff cut short a visit to Chile and was returning to Brazil following the blaze, her spokesperson said.
Police described it as the worst tragedy ever to affect Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, Band News said.
Past incidents blamed on the use of pyrotechnics include a 2003 fire at a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island killing 100 people, another fire in 2004 in a Buenos Aires nightclub killing close to 200 people, and in 2009 an explosion killing 100 people in Russia.
The Kiss nightclub is popular with young people in Santa Maria, drawing between 2,000 and 3,000 people a night on the weekends. This weekend students were celebrating the end of summer as students return to school on Monday.
For those of you who may not be familiar with TSO, they are a progressive rock band that incorporates classical, orchestral, symphonic and progressive elements into hard rock and heavy metal. They are famous for their series of rock operas and storytelling.
This was a high-energy show with a combination of lasers, lights, pyrotechnics and video screens all synchronized to TSO’s music.
Dressed in black, the orchestra made their way on stage while chimes were playing. As they were assembling onstage, there were clips of Martin Luther King Jr. from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and others, with each round of new faces drawing applause and cheers. Once onstage they started playing “Who I Am,” with video screens and lights blazing in perfect unison.
The talented storyteller Phillip Brandon started weaving a tale of an angel coming down to Earth on Christmas Eve. Brandon’s phenomenal voice, reminiscent of the famous James Earl Jones, drew the crowd into the tale as a hush came over the audience. After the introduction, the orchestra started playing “An Angel Came Down,” complete with lights and lasers.
As the orchestra began “First Snow,” it actually started to snow in the arena. OK, not really snow, but the pretend kind of snow. You know the
one with tiny bubbles raining down? Couple that with all the video screens filled with snow added to the sensation of real snow. It was quite breathtaking, leaving the audience in complete awe as they listened to an extremely talented line-up of musicians.
One of their screens and lighting units that made a Y shape stretching out above the audience was actually a catwalk. As the show progressed the unit started to descend on top of the audience, leaving people wondering if they should get out of the way. As it slowly made its way down, members of the band ran up it. The catwalk started to rise with band members running towards the back portion of the catwalk providing everyone in the “cheap” seats a prime view of the performance. It was quite impressive.
A new comer to TSO, violinist Asha Mevlana was off the charts rocking it with her purple high tech violin. As she ended a solo routine you could hear the crowd gasp in unison as she grabbed her bow and snapped it in half over her knee, ending the song. This was so much more dramatic than smashing a guitar to smithereens, since it was completely unexpected.
As they wrapped up the story, the orchestra treated the audience to a number of different songs including a mix from one of their albums “Christmas Canon Rock,” at which point they brought out founder, composer, and producer Paul O’Neill.
This was my first exposure to TSO and I have to say they left me wanting more, even after a 2 ½ hour performance.
Armed with an arsenal of talented musicians, singers, and special effects, TSO delivers a high energy, phantasmic kaleidoscope of fun. Oh ““ and some really good music too.