Feb. 10--The wooden supports holding up the floor at the Tabernacle on Friday night under hundreds of dancing music fans split "from bottom to top" before he shut the show down, an Atlanta fire marshal said Sunday.
The marshal, Lt. Ulysses Gladden, and venue managers evacuated The Tabernacle, ending the show after just two songs by the main band.
No one was injured. The stage is out of commission until it's fixed and approved by the city, a city spokeswoman said.
Gladden wasn't at the Tabernacle to stop the floor from collapsing. It just turned out that way.
He was assigned that night to watch over the event in place of the fire alarm. The venue planned to shut off its fire alarm so it could produce fake smoke (with a water base) to make the lighting look hazy, Gladden said.
Gladden was on scene for hours with no problem before the show and as the opening acts played. He "roamed" between the concert floor and the merchandise room underneath the stage, where the Tabernacle sells drinks and souvenirs.
He entered that room beneath the stage area again as the main act of the night, Panic! At The Disco, came on to a sold-out crowd. It took a minute to register that something unexpected was happening.
"When I first came into the room there was a spotlight," Gladden said. "It just caught the corner of my eye, and it moved. I was like, 'That light just moved.'"
He thought it might be normal vibrations. Then it moved again.
His eye now firmly on the ceiling, he saw the joists, horizontal wooden 2-inch-by-6-inch supports across the ceiling, were split and bending, opening and closing as the crowd above jumped and danced to the music.
"The ceiling was painted black," Gladden said. "So when they moved and opened up you could actually see the brown wood interior of the joist. The full bottom of the joist would open up. Like teeth."
And with his eyesight now adjusted to the black ceiling, he could see that the entire ceiling itself was moving, bowing up and down.
The same surface that served as the floor to the crowd above.
He immediately got Tabernacle security and management, who agreed with him, shut down the music and asked everyone to evacuate.
"I'm extremely proud of Lt. Gladden," said his boss, Gregory Favors, chief of the department's community risk reduction section.
They couldn't remember an event that had been evacuated. They were glad to be giving interviews Sunday about one that had, rather than about a collapse disaster.
Panic! At The Disco, the band, expects to return to Atlanta sometime this summer.
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