Unless Brillobox has surveillance video they're not telling us about -- and let's hope not -- it seems unlikely we'll ever get to the bottom of who did what to who at the venue last Sat., Nov. 15, when tempers flared between audience members and the night's headliner, guitarist Richard Lloyd.
Lloyd, who spent his childhood in Pittsburgh before making a name for himself in New York City in the seminal 1970s rock band Television, ended his set at Brillobox after only a few songs, due to heckling from the crowd and fears for his own safety.
"They started chanting 'Richard Lloyd, Richard Lloyd, woman-beater! Woman-beater!'" says Lloyd, who these days performs with his backing band the Sufi Monkeys. He worried that "some clown with fat knuckles and a few too many drinks is gonna think he's gonna be a big hero and fuckin' assault me. If I let this go on, it's going to end up on the Internet, it's going to end up as fact, and it's simply not true.
"I feigned anger -- but I'm not identified with anger," he says. "It's a tool -- it's actually a tool stored in the liver, according to Chinese alchemical medical ancient theorem. Anger is an appropriate response to a thwarting of one's will."
Things got off to a bumpy start during the changeover between the opening local act, Gems, and Lloyd's band, which was borrowing drums and a bass rig from the openers. While Lloyd was setting up, a female audience member walked across the stage to peer out the window at the back, apparently looking to see if a six-pack shop across the street was still open.
"A large woman gets onstage behind the drums" recalls Lloyd, "she's bumbling around onstage while [the drummer] is putting up cymbals." In the absence of security, Lloyd says he wanted to protect the people onstage and the gear, including some expensive microphones he'd brought for the guitar amps. "I said, 'Please leave the stage, you're not supposed to be up here,' ... because civilians and pedestrians are not allowed on a stage when there's equipment, wires to trip over -- she could have put out her eye."
That's when the girl's friend, Gems vocalist Cory Allen, intervened.
"I told him 'Chill out, she was just looking out the window' and he got in my face and was screaming in my face 'Don't tell me to chill out!'" says Allen. "I said nicely to him 'would you please relax?' and he screamed something else and squared up to me like he was going to hit me."
Ashley Larrow, who was standing nearby, says Lloyd "made a lunge at Cory. It was a split-second decision for me to step in between the two because I didn't think that this Dad guy would hit a girl." Instead, she says, Lloyd "grabbed my wrist with his big sweaty angry hand and shook me a bit and then pushed me away!"
Lloyd says Larrow struck him first, before he pushed back in self-defense. She "grabs my right bicep hard with her left hand, and pushes the hell out of me with her other hand, in the chest. I fling my hands up and say 'Get your hands off me!' and I open up my hands, and she starts screaming 'You hit a woman! You hit a woman!'"
Lloyd says he called for security, the owner and the promoter, but none were on the scene. A bartender managed to separate them and eventually calmed things down, enough that Lloyd could get onstage with the band and started playing. But soon Allen and others in the crowd began heckling him.
"I couldn't bear standing there and watching him play with my band's equipment after he verbally abused one and physically abused another of my best friends," says Allen, referring to the girl who walked on stage and Larrow. "So I heckled him while he was on stage because I wanted him to stop. I would have done the same even if they weren't friends of our band because I don't believe in treating women that way."
Regardless of who did what, the show ground to a close and customers were refunded their money for the event.
Brillobox owner Eric Stern says he later had an extensive conversation with Lloyd. Lloyd's "point of view was very understandable," Stern says, but points out that "there are as many versions of such episodes as there are witnesses.
"In any case, Richard was very sorry that the show could not go on," says Stern. "In the end, it seems like a situation that could have been easily avoided or at least remedied, but unfortunately ... degenerated into a night without music."
"If I see a man abuse a woman, I will go over and lay him out!" Lloyd exclaims. "I have a conscience, and it's clean -- clear. I don't beat on women." He adds, "I've only been in one fist fight in my whole life, in the fifth grade, and we became best friends."
Says Allen, "I know I could have handled the situation more maturely and I regret the way that the night ended.
"I hope that cunt Richard Lloyd sorts himself out before he kills someone," he adds.