Just a few months after its opening, the Pyro Room goes up in smoke.

Around Hear 

Just a few months after its opening, the Pyro Room goes up in smoke.

Moaning Lisa's gig on Saturday, June 30, at the Pyro Room, which had been on the calendar for weeks, figured to be a typical weekend show, with a decent crowd and an upbeat atmosphere. However, two days before the concert, ML frontman David George heard a bit of news that made him envision a fiery, riotous scene -- and not just because The Pornhuskers had just been added to the bill. Pyro, the promising venue that made downtown a live-music destination in the past four months, had abruptly changed owners and formats. (Bought by a former owner of Balanca's, it will now be a gay bar.) That scrapped July plans for performances by such buzz groups as The Sadies and The White Stripes and made Moaning Lisa the Room's last headliner.

Performing in front of a packed house (word spread instantly about the club's impending demise), George expected rowdiness but escaped with only nagging disappointment and mild nausea. "It wasn't as wild and crazy as I thought it was going to be," he says with a sigh. "I tried to get some people to tear up some stuff, but all we got was a ceiling tile to fall down." The removed tile displaced a dead mouse, which a helpful audience member positioned on one of the band's stage lights. "I left it there, thinking, 'I'm not going to touch the thing,' but the heat from the light cooked it and it started stinking," George recalls.

The Pyro Room's last night left many area music fans feeling ill at ease, and not only because of the toxic fumes emanating from rodents in the midst of cremation. Longtime followers of the scene are used to all-ages venues' closing their doors without warning, but the loss of a legit 21-and-over establishment just weeks after industrial godfather Foetus played to a capacity crowd provided a shock to the system.

If there wasn't much crying and gnashing of teeth at the Pyro's last show, it was only because so many of its patrons were still in the crush phase -- still courting the club without making an exclusive commitment. "It's so new and too fresh to get really choked up about it," George says. "A lot of people reacted like 'There goes another place in Kansas City -- typical.' But I don't think people were in a riotous mood, or that it even affected them that much. They think something else is going to come up."

That something else is apparently located just a block away. The Pub has been booking bands since 1999, showcasing the talents of premiere local acts such as Parlay, The Gadjits and Rex Hobart, but with her other project closed, the Pyro Room's former owner, Sheri Parr, has much more energy to devote to converting the lunch spot into a weekend live-music fixture. "The death of the Pyro is going to benefit live music downtown more than it ever could have if it had remained open," former Pyro manager Lance Barton claims. "Money from the sale of the Pyro is going into The Pub. Sheri believes in downtown, and everything she does will be downtown."

The Pyro's brain trust (Barton, Parr and booking agent Tony Davis) plans to import the defunct venue's premium sound system into The Pub and construct a stage to give the space more of a rock-club feel. It won't match the custom-fit allure of Pyro, the only area venue to use a bi-level design to separate music fans from the meat-market crowd, but Barton says starting over in the new space was the only option. "It was never a choice to keep it open," he says. "When it comes down to it, she just could not allow one bar to sabotage both of her downtown projects."

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