An Unnecessary, Stupid, Irresponsible Death in the Theatre


Another bit of pretty stupid news — another death in our industry to report. You’ve probably already heard, but a fan was crawling around the catwalks at the Aragon Ballroom for the Chevelle show happening there on Friday, May 25, and fell.  As you would assume, that fan was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.  He fell through the ceiling and landed on two metal rods which impaled the concertgoer.

Said dead concertgoer: Kyle Kirchhoff, a defensive line coach for the College of DuPage, up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.


The general gist:
Kirchoff and some of his pals were at the Chevelle show at the Aragon. They all slipped through an unlocked balcony door, found their way to a catwalk, and watched the show from there. They all noticed their buddy Kyle wasn’t with them, then they found his body — 6 to 8 feet below the catwalk, impaled on two metal pipes or rods or something to that effect. It’s not hard to imagine rebar sticking out from a place no one is supposed to ever go, especially in a theatre.

From Ultimate Classic Rock:

Apparently, Kirchhoff and two other friends slipped through an unlocked side door in the second-floor balcony of the Aragon in order to watch a Friday (May 22) appearance by the band Chevelle from atop a catwalk. Kirchhoff tumbled some 6-8 feet before landing on two metal rods around 10:20 p.m., suffering fatal chest wounds.

There’s a lot to be said about this tragedy… but not here on JimOnLight.  Sorry folks, this is a stupid, unnecessary death, caused by people who wanted to go somewhere dangerous in the theatre to get what they thought would be a better view. The same of it all is that this guy was apparently really well liked among his friends and his community.

This guy’s surviving buddies should be downright fucking disgusted with themselves for deciding to climb up some shit in a theatre that obviously meant for its patrons to be sitting on the seating sections of the venue and not in the catwalk areas. That was really dumb, guys. Now, not only is a person with a lot of potential nothing but a newspaper article and memories, but you’ve now caused what I can assure you will be an even nastier backlash in the Chicagoland area at the least, if not nationwide.

Reading the comments on the various news stories across the nation this evening absolutely fucking made me want to vomit:

“What backlash, man? The guy just wanted to see the show better.”
“Poor guy just wanted to see a show and he fell to his death.  Hope the family sues.”
“Theaters need to make sure ALL places are safe for people, everyone walks through unlocked doors.”

Really? Well, there are places in the theatre that even we, the masses of entertainment professionals across the world, try not to go without the lights on in that location. The reasons for this kind of safe behavior? Falling 6-8 feet below the catwalk and landing on metal spikes in the dark might be at least a deterrent, right?

Lots of people went to see the Chevelle show at the Aragon that night to see the show better. One of them is dead. The one that passed away slipped from a place he didn’t belong and impaled himself on some metal rods of some sort. It doesn’t matter how he died, just that he is dead because he made a bad decision.

Let’s take a look at the potential ramifications of Kyle Kirchoff and his buddies’ fateful decision to “get a better view” at the show:

  • More restrictive access in venues because the venue and producing organizations will now need to legally and more intensively protect themselves from the audience
  • More expensive ticket prices for venues because of associated insurance costs to protect the venue from the audience
  • More expensive ticket prices for bands because of rising insurance costs when shit like this happens
  • More expensive ticket prices for most of us consumers because now we will have to bear the brunt of the idiotic decisions of the few
  • Kirchoff’s family will now wonder what the hell their son was doing up there in the first place, and his friends are going to feel really terrible for a long, long time.

Generally, dear audience members, those of us who work to put on the shows you pay so much for really hate reading about times when something happens at a show that causes harm to one of you. One of you being harmed at a show is too many. We really hate it, for example, when we have to read about someone dying because they were someplace they definitely should not have been.

From the Chevelle Facebook page:

To our fans, as you may or may not have heard, an extremely unfortunate event occurred at our show in Chicago Friday…

Posted by Chevelle on Sunday, May 24, 2015

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  1. Hi Jim- I am a long time follower of the blog and normally agree with what you have to say on safety but this time I disagree. As professionals putting on events for the public it is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for our audience to escape from reality and enjoy themselves. Preventing this accident would have required the venue to lock a door. Is that too much of a burden for the professionals operating this venue? How is this any different from ensuring that temporary structures used for events are safe or properly limiting access to electrical panels and stage machinery? This is a senseless tragedy that could have been prevented by having a house manager perform a life safety check prior to doors. An audience members life is more valuable than 10 minutes of someone’s time.

    Love the site and your work advocating for light. Keep up the good work.


    • Joe Anderson- the venue DID provide a safe environment for the audience. The audience member chose to go through a door into a restricted space. Yes, ideally that door should have been locked, but he’s responsible for choosing to go into an area he and his buddies knew was not for them and off limits. They did it for kicks. There is only so much a theater can do to protect people from their own stupid decisions.

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