In the 60s and 70s Oakland was the World Headquarters for Roller Derby. Our original office and training center were not far from the site of the terrible warehouse fire that killed at least 33.
The fire never should have happened: an illegal art collective was in the warehouse with many people living there with no attempt to get permits; no fire sprinklers or legal entrance or exits marked. So there was a music event on the 2nd floor, one staircase made of wood pallets the only exit and entrance, and material that was just waiting to burn.
The city is at fault for not inspecting the building; the owner for allowing it to happen….and there are probably a number of other warehouses being used for the same purpose.
But what I want to focus on is your safety at any event you either attend or produce. I produced Roller Derby, concerts, sports events, and then ticketed them through my company at a later time….I have been in this business (currently with Brown Paper Tickets) for 60 years.
There are no shortcuts to safety for those who attend events, whether it is Roller Derby, clubs, concerts, festivals or whatever. First, as a spectator, once you have entered the facility look for the exits, are they clearly marked? I am always concerned about halls where tickets are sold as general admission….are there clear aisles, does it seem oversold to you? Greedy promoters (not an oxymoron) will often keep selling beyond permitted capacity….happens more often than you think…what we did at BASS would check the capacity (set by the fire marshal) and never sell beyond the figure, no matter what the promoter wanted. And if you think the facility is over capacity, leave and request a refund. I also suggest contacting the fire marshal for future reference.
The major arenas and buildings usually are operated by the cities or management, and you are more safe attending events there (maybe not as much fun). less likely to be a counter- culture event.
The lesson learned from the Oakland fire is that you do not think that when you are going to hear music you are putting your life at risk. Just do a few simple checks whenever you go.