Pin It

Day 5: South By Southwest 2011 - DFA 1979 Madness 

Death From Above 1979 reunion show ends in near riot

Day 4, part 2 recaps and a full day of Day 5 recaps and interviews are on the way, but first, I have to sum up what had to be the craziest end to a South By Southwest festival I've ever witnessed.

It starts when a journalist friend, Dave Jaffer of Montreal's The Hour, hears legendary Toronto indie-electro-punk duo Death From Above 1979 is playing its first reunion show in half a decade at Beauty Bar.

We literally run to the venue in an attempt to get into the 225-capacity space. What we find is a crowd of at least a couple of hundred people trying desperately to get a look of the insane performance within the tiny backyard space already rammed with people.

Daring music fans take risky chances, such as climbing the roof of the next door Korean restaurant to get on the roof of the Beauty Bar in order to get a better look. Unfortunately, this group of a dozen or so adventurers wind up being run off by security, with some hurting themselves on the way down.

At the other end of the venue, some take to the roof of a garage across the alleyway. Dozens are stuffed against a fence that allows view to the stage. These people attempt to pull down the fence as a way to get in.

Eventually, it all goes hairy and security starts to use tasers, mace or some form of pepper spray. Several kids collapse on the ground, blind from the attack.

Meanwhile, the band continues to play, oblivious of what's happening outside the venue. It's all extremely punk rock, no doubt fueled by alcohol and testosterone.

A group of police show up and head inside to try to shut down the show. Minutes later, horseback police do two sweeps of the back alley. The crowd disperses some at that point, other throw things at the police. Finally, after awhile, people start leaving.

It was a situation that could be a lot worse, but one that could have been better handled if whomever booked the show put it in a bigger venue to accomodate a bigger crowd and more security. While many seemed to be excited to be there in the middle of the madness, this had the potential to be a disaster.

Take a look at the grainy footage below. First, a far shot of Jesse Keelor rocking out on bass through a hole in the fence:

Here's when it starts to get scary with one person standing on the roof of an unlucky person's car. They probably thought they had a sweet parking spot at the beginning of the night. Wrong.

Signs the fence was coming down:

Just after the fence was knocked down, security start to mace and taser the crowd indiscriminately, including journalists. You can hear screams, and at the 0:55 mark, you can actually hear someone being tasered:

After the fence was torn down, workers try to get it back up:

Cops awaiting instruction before threatening to shut down the show:

Horseback police after making a few sweeps of the back alley with The Hour's Dave Jaffer summing up the event in the last two seconds before being cut off by a dead battery:

Crazy night in Austin. Crazy week at South By Southwest 2011. Thanks for the memories.

Stay tuned for further Day 4 and 5 coverage.

-Johnston Farrow

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Get more Halifax

Our Thursday email gets you caught up with The Coast. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.

Coast Top Ten

© 2021 Coast Publishing Ltd.