A Gorilla Gardens highlight show, a not atypical Seattle event, occurred in January 1985. Hugo and Susan Silver’s Metropolis Productions (formed after the Metropolis club closed) sponsored the Violent Femmes. The event was also promoted by KCMU. Metropolis took the financial risk of guaranteeing the Femmes’ payout. The venue oversold its 300-person legal capacity, and patrons clamored to get in. Some kids had discovered a hole in the roof and made their way down through the rafters to catch the show. Ceiling tiles began falling into the crowd, alerting Hugo. He climbed up into the rafters to chase the kids out of the club. By the time Hugo escorted the uninvited guests to the street, he was met by the police department.
The police had been called since the overflow crowd had spilled onto the street. The fire department soon followed to make sure the club was up to code—which of course it wasn’t. The fire exits were boarded up, making the club an absolute fire hazard. The fire chief informed Hugo that the venue had to be evacuated immediately, literally in the middle of the Femmes’ set. “And I was just on my knees,” says Hugo, “basically saying, ‘If you shut me down, I’m bankrupt.’”
Out of desperation, Metropolis staffers took a chainsaw and cut a hole in the side of the building, and voila! The building had enough exits. “I mean, how can you argue with that shit? It was like perfect,” says Art Chantry. “‘You want a fire exit? We’ll give you a fuckin’ fire exit!’”