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Punches and Cops at Sulfur's Slipknot Tribute Show at the Gothic

AEG staff and members of the Slipknot tribute band Sulfur scuffled at the Gothic Theatre Saturday night.
AEG staff and members of the Slipknot tribute band Sulfur scuffled at the Gothic Theatre Saturday night. Sulfur
A fight broke out at the Gothic Theatre Saturday, July 13, after a security guard attempted to stop members of the Denver Slipknot tribute band Sulfur from jumping off a balcony.

The band, which pays homage to the chaotic early days of Slipknot, prides itself on putting on high-energy show. Fans and bandmembers crowd-surf. People mosh. Bandmates leave with minor injuries.

At the Gothic, one member — who goes by Number Three (bandmembers don't go by their birth names, and they wear masks to conceal their identities) — climbed up the balcony and started scaling the edge. He head-banged with kids in the crowd, started climbing down with help from fans, then jumped to the floor.

"I was just running around the pit with everyone, and people were pushing me, like they do in a mosh pit. Then someone grabbed me, trying to pull my mask off. I thought it was a fan just overexcited or something. I didn't think anything of it at first," he recalls in a note to Westword. "Then I heard the guy grabbing me say, 'You can't climb on my balcony!' I realized he was a security guard, but before I could say anything, he was trying to pull my mask off and started putting his hand around my neck and started choking me. Then he put his hand over my mouth so I couldn't breathe. So I turned around and pushed him off of me, and I walked off trying to go back onto the stage, but he was running after me.

"He ran after me through the doors by the stairs on the side of the stage," Number Three continues. "He kept pushing me and kept trying to choke me. I just kept trying to push him away from me, and then he finally got me outside behind the venue and slammed the door behind me. I guess the one thing he did right was not trying to pursue me after I was outside?"

According to AEG Rocky Mountain Presents Co-President and Senior Talent Buyer Don Strasburg, bandmembers had climbed the balcony and jumped down a few other times, which security had warned them to stop doing. The band rejects Strasburg's claim, saying they never got warnings.

"AEG Presents and the Gothic Theatre place the highest premium on safety. When the artist elected to climb the speaker system and climb up and jump off the balcony multiple times and would not desist, the venue managers attempted to stop them from this behavior," Strasburg says.

A sound board operator came on stage and began screaming at the band, says member Number Four. That bandmate decided to end the show in the usual way — by tipping over kegs on stage.

Number Four remembers the sound guy responding, "Don't touch my gear, bitch!"

"So I turned around, and I was like 'This is my fucking gear,'" Number Four explains. "Then that's when he said, 'This is my house. What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do?' I didn't even scream. I just put my face to his and said, 'Hit me.' I said it about three times, because he kept repeating, 'What are you gonna do?' He wanted to act tough, and I was going to let him. Our fans hit us all the time. Our shows are so crazy up front that our fans jump on stage, head-butt kegs, head-butt us. Getting hit is just part of our repertoire at this point."

Instead, the venue's sound was cut off, and fans were furious and started chanting and becoming aggressive with staffers, who in turn called the police for backup. Staff opted to cancel the show and asked everybody to leave.

"Some staff member grabbed me when the cops got there and said, 'Get the fuck out,' and I was like 'Alright, I guess I am leaving my gear here,'" explains member Number Zero.

Bandmates recall around twenty cop cars outside the venue.

"It seemed like they were under the impression there was some sort of violence happening to people in the crowd or something," Number Zero adds. "Some of the responses we got from fans were people who had their kids there and said it scared the kids when cops came in with their guns drawn. Which makes sense, but the cops were just doing their jobs assuming they were coming into violence or a riot or some shit. But that was obviously something they were told when they were called by the sound guy or security guy when they called the cops."

The police tried to figure out what was going on, but it was difficult to determine who had done what since the bandmembers were wearing masks. "The report says the initial call was that there was a fight in the crowd," according to an Englewood police spokesperson. "When our cops got there, nobody was fighting. The employees were asking patrons and customers to leave the building."

A security guard told the police he had been punched by a bandmember, but he ultimately declined to press charges, according to the police report.

No injuries required hospitalizations, and there were no arrests.

"We are always slightly injured after a show," notes Number Zero. "We damage our bodies a lot playing like that."

Fans took to social media to express their support for the band after the incident and demanded their money back from AEG.

"The Roxy has offered us a free show to our fans to make up for this show getting shut down," Zero says. "All ages, free to attend, we are working out the date right now with them. They really stepped up for us since we couldn't get a response from AEG."

Sulfur did get some positive response from Slipknot.

"Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Mick's wife from Slipknot liked our Instagram post about the show, and one of them commented that it was so cool," says Zero.

Correction July 17, 2019: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect spelling of Sulfur.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris