A deadly fire that ripped through a makeshift venue at a warehouse in Oakland and left as many as 40 victims dead has the Bay Area music community reeling.
Many of those killed or still missing in the fire were Bay Area music regulars, including several who worked at venues around San Francisco and Oakland. Popular sound engineer and music tech Barrett Clark is among the missing. Clark worked sound at a number of venues in the Bay Area, including the Independent. the DNA Lounge, 1015 Folsom, Bimbo’s 365 and the Bottom of the Hill.
Matthew Smith with the UC Theater told Amplify that Clark also booked the New Parish in Oakland, a venue that lost several regular patrons in the fire.
“This thing is just a horrible tragedy,” he said. “We lost a great colleague and a bunch of music fans from the venue I used to book. We’re all very sad.”
Clark was “a true pillar of the Bay Area DIY music scene for many, many years,” another friend who asked to remain anonymous said. “He was a professional sound engineer who worked at venues across the Bay Area and often far beyond, including Bottom of the Hill, Mezzanine, The Independent, 1015 Folsom and many others — but also and perhaps more importantly at too many underground events to name, from across the Bay Area to deep in the forests of the Sierra. Barrett is the kind of person who would hurt himself lugging the best mobile sound system you ever heard to your show just to make it sound incredible.”
Also missing is Griffin Madden, who had graduated from Cal and had accepted a job at Cal Performances’s Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley earlier this year as a house manager. Video Tech Jonathan Bernbaum is also believed to among those who died. Bernbaum had recently worked on EDM artist Markus Schulz’s Scream 2 tour.
Jonathan Bernbaum and Griffin Madden
Also missing in the fire are two recording artists for the label 100% Silk, who were playing the Oakland warehouse party. Artists Cherushii (Chelsea Faith Dolan) and Nackt (Johnny Igaz), remain unaccounted for although another 100% Silk artist, Joel Shanahan, who performs under the name Golden Donna, escaped unharmed.
As attention to the fire shifts from recovery efforts to a potential criminal investigation, many are looking at building operator Derick Ion Almena, who ran the Ghost Ship and Satya Yugi Collective. Alemena allegedly ignored repeated safety and fire warnings about the building, which had no sprinklers or smoke alarms and was reportedly cluttered with debris and a makeshift staircase that made escape from the deadly fire nearly impossible for dozens of victims stuck at the building.
Amplify spoke with artist Kyrsten Bean, who played at the venue last year with her punk band.
“When I posted the photo from the event, a friend who attended said ‘I will be so sad when that place bursts into flames.’ He left after we played, seeing candles downstairs. My bandmate was very concerned when he saw a few people smoking, as it was all made of wood — I mean everything.”
Bean recalls having to haul her band gear up “the only stairs leading up to the wood platform,” adding “the build-out on the second floor where we performed, were extremely scary to me but the manager Derick assured me they were safe.”
“We had to haul our gear up manually and it took a long time. I couldn’t wait to get it all out at the end and was kind of relieved when the show was over. They did not seem to be set up for a show, this was new to them from what I was gathering. That being said, it was a lovely audience and extremely sweet group of people who watched us play and it was probably the best show we ever played as far as vibe.”