The Oakland Fire

As some of you may have heard, there was a fire in an artist space in Oakland, California.The fire happened during a performance at the space of live electronic music. Golden Donna, Cherushii, Nackt, Russell Butler, Obsidian Blade, Piano Rain, and RADAR were on the bill.

The fire was severe. As of this writing, thirty bodies have been found, and most of the building has yet to be searched. All of the artists there have lost their homes and possessions. It is a terrible situation.

CNN is tracking the story here:

If there’s even a possiblity that you were anywhere near the fire, please mark yourself safe on this Facebook page:

(Incidentally, this is the first time I heard about Facebook safety check pages, which is a wonderful idea.)

Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has set up a relief fund through YouCaring:

(EDIT: There is a Facebook group that is set up for this tragedy, but apparently it has been taken over by spam nonsense.

I did not know any of the performers personally, but we had lots of friends in common, and this space is exactly the kind of space I would perform at.

My sympathies go out to everyone involved, the people who lost their lives and the artists who are now homeless.

I’m also hoping that this doesn’t become yet another excuse to shut down these types of collective spaces, which have been under attack (especially here in Boston) for years. Artists need these types of spaces; hopefully this will push cities nationwide to make allowances for them, so that they can exist legally and safely, instead of being more aggressive in shutting them down.


2 thoughts on “The Oakland Fire

  1. So, here’s another example of what not to do: exploit the tragedy to promote an anti-Internet, pro-copyright agenda that would have neither prevented the fire, nor helped the artists in any way. Like Marc Ribot did:

    I’ve searched all of the artists’ websites in vain for anything that even vaguely supports his arguments. The only thing that would come close is that Silicon Valley contributed heavily to gentrification in SF and Oakland. But that is happening everywhere, and has nothing at all to do with “Silicon Valley’s trashing of the copyright laws.”

    Weak copyright laws didn’t drive the gentrification of Brooklyn. In Boston, it didn’t cause the ISD to shut down the Berwick performance space (which I witnessed first-hand, after playing in the space several times). In Providence, it didn’t cause the shutdown of Fort Thunder (I also used to see shows there). It hasn’t been driving the recent rash of evictions in places like Denver, Philadelphia, Nashville, or Austin.

    On the other hand, all of the artists involved benefited heavily by “Silicon Valley” companies. They used Facebook to promote the shows, their own projects, and to tell the world they were safe (if they were, which unfortunately, many were not). They put their music up on Soundcloud and sold it through Bandcamp. One of them (Nackt) worked at Pandora.

    Not one of them complained about any of the issues that Ribot talked about.

    It’s frankly disgusting on Ribot’s part. I’m curious why this missive wasn’t posted on the MusiciansACTION site (which he founded). I’m wondering if someone at MusiciansACTION realized how despicable this was, so he had to post it somewhere with lower ethical standards.

    If you do want to learn more about the artists and their community, here are some links, so that you can hear it from the horses’ mouths.

    And, here are links to the artists’ various websites, and interviews with them.

    Golden Donna:


    NACKT (Johnny Igaz): (worked at Pandora)

    Russell E.L. Butler (aka Black Jeans):

    Obsidian Blade (Joey Casio):

    Piano Rain (AJAvision):


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