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We actually have two versions of this tale. My version seeing it from the stage and Jay's version from being in the crowd. As you will see, there are slight differences. As usual the truth is probably somewhere in between. Here we go...
This was the first big barroom brawl I had ever seen. Having gone to and played in clubs for a few years at this point, I had seen many fights go down. Usually just a couple of folks involved, maybe a handful; but this one was different. This one had the better part of the bar in the fight and to this day I'm still not sure why it got that out of hand. I guess it could have been a combination of driving music, alcohol, testosterone and a bit of hometown rivalry thrown in to get it going :)
This took place at one of our gigs at what was then called The Main Bar on Main Street in Deep Ellum in Dallas, Texas. As with most bars, it changes names about every year or two and I have no idea what it is called now. At that time The Main Bar was basically our home and base of operations. We were in tight with the current management and got headlining gigs there anytime we wanted and drew quite well for them. If I remember correctly, we had both our tape and CD release parties there. I think I have a video of the CD release party. If I can find it, I am going to convert it to some online video format and post it in the media section.
In those days, quite a bit of our fan base was made of folks from Waxahachie. On this particular evening we had two distinct groups there. One made of up our normal folks including Big Bad Bill, Kevin Mundy, Kyle, etc. and a separate group of Waxahachie folks that were a couple of years older than or normal group. They consisted of guys like Derek Townsley, John, Clint, etc. John (who I have forgotten his last name) was attending Texas Tech, but was in town that weekend and came to the show with his friends. John was a boxer who was infamous for holding his own well in fights. For some reason he and Big Bad Bill had some sort of disagreement back in the High School days that both still held a grudge for and tonight was the night it was to come to a head.
We were on stage rocking out as usual and had a nice size mosh pit going in front of the stage. Big Bad Bill was generally known as the owner of the most pit. Everyone yield to Bill's path in the pit for good reason, he wasn't called Big Bad Bill for nothing. On this evening, someone was cheap shotting Bill in the pit. I assume it was John, but not sure. Bill got the mike from our singer Chris and said something into the crowd. At that point, John waded in to square off with Bill. They line up in boxing stances and start sizing each other up. This was one of the fights I had seen Bill in that I was a little concerned because John was supposed to be a good boxer.
So there they are squared off in the most pit. At this point, the pit had pretty much stopped and encircled the two fighters, we continued to play because that's what bands are supposed to do despite fights that break out. TO my surprise, Bill fires the first jab. It must have been a pretty solid one because John the Boxer looked immediately stunned. Bill saw blood and reacted perfectly grabbing John the boxer and slamming him down to the concrete. At this point all I could see was Bill jack hammering his fist downwards in what I expected to be John's face. John was in trouble. Seeing John's predicament, his friend Derek ran across the room with a beer bottle in hand and smashed it over the back of Big Bad Bill's head. Derek expecting this would incapacitate Bill was rudely surprised. Bill shot to his feet in what appeared to be a feral rage. The look on Derek's face was sheer terror as he spun and ran towards the door with Bill in tow.
This is the part I will never forget. Just as Bill started to chase Derek, it literally look like the place exploded. From the stage, it appeared that every table in the place simultaneously were overturned and people began to attack the nearest person. At this point it was mayhem inside the bar. The handful of bouncers rushed in but were quickly overtaken by the riot-like atmosphere. I remember Kyle saying that he dropped one of them not knowing it was a bouncer trying to break it up.
From here its a little foggy. I think we stopped playing and jumped into the crowd trying to stop it and find our girlfriends. Ultimately the place was cleared but I think the music eventually continued.
This is a story about the only barroom brawl I was ever
in. It seems that my friends in Texas were always
getting drunk and getting into fights with people,
regardless of where we went, whereas I was never really
involved in a serious fight with anyone. I attribute it
to my happy-go-lucky personality and natural charm, but
that could just be my way of dealing with the fact that
I'm a puss. I guess I'm pretty athletic and I've always
held my own in wrestling matches with my friends
(although secretly I was just copping a cheap feel, but
don't we all?), but deep down I'd just rather avoid any
type of pain unless it's really necessary.
We had been so busy talking about how we had his back, that we neglected to actually get his back. The guy who snuck him must have been a friend of the other guy. The second the bottle broke, it was on. Immediately everyone started throwing punches, and somehow I got paired up against the guy who had broken the bottle over Bill's head. I was determined to just kick as much ass as I could and see what happened, but in the front of my mind I'm thinking "this guy is probably still holding a broken bottle." The whole thing happened so fast, we were both swinging at each other and kind of running sideways, away from the mosh pit towards the entrance. Everyone was screaming. Even though we were trading punches, for some reason I still thought he had the broken bottle, so I didn't even try to tackle him (being a much better wrestler than boxer.) After about 20 seconds, we were separated by bouncers and I lost sight of the guy. The bouncer who grabbed me, mostly just shoved me towards the exit so he could get to the main fights, so I didn't actually leave, but ran back to see if any of my friends needed help.
The first one I saw was Kyle. It was dark in the club, so I only halfway saw what happened, but Kyle would later tell the story with a big smile. He had paired off against one unfortunate soul and had apparently pounded the guy pretty good and was kind of locked up with him, when someone else came after Kyle with a metal stool. Kyle told the story something like this "I saw him coming at me out of the corner of my eye with the stool, that's when I knew what I had to do. I grabbed the guy I was fighting by the pinky, twisted it back hard and swung him around so he was the one who got hit with the stool." Just after that two of the bouncers grabbed Kyle. I was surprised that he didn't put up a fight against them, but just let them walk him out in an armbar - I guess Kyle never lost his cool, even in the middle of a fight. I found out later that Bill had pounced on the original big guy shortly after he had the bottle broken over his head and had pounded him pretty good. As I've mentioned in previous stories, Bill is close to 300 pounds and packs a real whallop. Eventually the bouncers got things under control and most of us ended up outside. The other group of guys must have taken off immediately because we didn't see them again. Bill had long blonde hair, which he wore in a ponytail, which was now matted and clumped with blood. As we stood outside I watched him pick little pieces of the bottle out of his head. At that point there wasn't much to do, but go back to their apartment and drink and relive the story over and over.