Basement owner Rob Stango claims innocence in destruction fest

The former proprietor of a Midtown nightspot is defending himself from allegations that he had a hand in the eviction-eve destruction which the building’s owner said caused at least $50,000 in damage.

But a partner in an entertainment company which booked bands for the final night at The Basement tells a different story.

In this photo provided to the Kingston Times, former Basement owner Rob Stango, lower left, appears to look on during the bar's destruction.


The conflicting accounts come as police are working to piece together what exactly happened in the early-morning hours of Oct. 8, shortly before landlord H. Lee Wind was due to serve eviction papers on Rob Stango, who had run the popular entertainment venue at 744 Broadway since 2007. What is clear is that the bar was left in ruins with large holes in the drywall, smashed mirrors and fixtures, including lights, toilets, ceiling fans and the heating system torn out. Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti said that cops were reviewing photos and video from that night and working to identify individual perpetrators. But the big question remains whether Stango, who says he was forced out by a landlord who wanted control of the lucrative business which he had built up, was the prime mover behind the destruction.

Stango, a Kingston native who returned to the city from San Diego to run the bar, said the problems between he and Wind dated to late last year when a combination of factors, including a burglary and slowdown in business, left him $9,000 behind on the rent. Among the problems, Stango said, was a leaky roof which he claimed led to the ruin of expensive sound equipment.

“We were ready to throw in the towel, the ups and downs of the bar business are pretty harsh,” said Stango. “We just fought for it, we started booking more bands and we started doing better this year.”

Still behind on the rent, Stango said, Wind offered to forgive the debt in exchange for a 60 percent share of the business. When Stango refused, Wind pressed ahead with the eviction. Stango claims that he went to court to have the cost of the ruined equipment deducted from the rent bill and continued negotiations up until the 11th hour when he said he handed Wind $9,000 in cash only to have the money returned. Meanwhile, Stango claimed, Wind was reaching out to members of his team trying to recruit them to carry on the business once the eviction took place. (Wind, for his part, said he was more disturbed by the fact that the bar was not carrying insurance than the rent dispute).

There are 48 comments

  1. the chillempress

    PUNK ROCK! sucks running a small business when your boss is your landlord. $9000 for 60% of the business, what a scumbag… sounds like extortion to me. Kingston has such a dirth of decent music venues… another one bites the dust. So what if he went bananas and trashed the joint… at least he went out with a BANG!

  2. Josh

    Rob Stango is lying. I was there, I saw him personally ripping down sheet rock and a ceiling fan. Electric wires were ripped out of the walls by HIM personally. I brought him outside and told him to go inside and stop the crap after two people got hurt. He was very drunk and flat out refused.

  3. Brandon

    Yea, I was there too. Rob told the crowd to rip the place apart and proceeded to stand on a barstool trying to tear down the ceiling fan, which he ended up just swinging from. He was asked nicely by the promotors to resind his statement at which point he declined saying it was “his house”.

  4. The Truth

    He claims innocence but that doesn’t make him innocent. He gave orders for people to destroy the place and participated in the destruction himself. And there are scores of witnesses to this fact. He’s the only one who should be held responsible. People at the show, including Tainted Entertainment went out of their way to reason with him to stop with the destruction and make him realize how irrationally he was acting and he didn’t listen. He should be held accountable.

  5. eric F

    He is lying. Rob did tell the ddrunken morons to tear the place apart. my friend and i was there to see immolation. him and i had to stay in the front to avoid the flying debris. when i turned around i saw a spectator barely conscious. He needs to be held responsible along with the few drunks who did this

  6. Jackie

    Good thing Tainted Entertainment had photos to prove he was still there after he claimed to leave… Interesting.

  7. Free Rob Stango

    Tainted Entertainment sounds like a bunch of p*ssies to me. What kinda “Metal Head” throws one of their own under the bus like this!? Regardless of what Rob’s involvement was he built this venue for a community that freaking needed it. He committed his life to Kingston and honestly that bar was a shit hole and could use the renovation. What kind of slumlord rents out a place with bathrooms that looked and smelled like those!!?? Looks like you guys should just start doing Dashboard covers and drink some appletinis. Weak.

    1. Ashley N.

      “I said, ‘This is the end. I don’t care anymore. I’m moving on to bigger and better things,’” Stango said. “That’s all I said, I didn’t tell people to go crazy and destroy the place.”
      Question: When The HELL Was That Said? I Remember Hearing, “This Is The End. I Don’t Care Anymore. Let’s F*ck This Place Up. Destroy It!” In (of course) A Drunken Tone. After That Speech, You Stumbled Down The Steps, Stumbled Over To The Back Exit And Jumped Up, Grabbed Hold Of The “Exit” Sign And Tore The Wiring. You Then Went Behind The Bar, Grabbing Empty Glasses/Bottles Off The Counter, And Began Hurling It All Onto The Floors, Shattering Glass Flying Everywhere.

      “and admits that he witnessed some of the destruction.”
      No F—–‘ Shit. You WERE Destroying The Place Thus The Reason Why You Witnessed It, Jackass. If You Didn’t Do All Of This Then Why Are You The ONLY ONE Defending Yourself? Face Reality.

  8. Knows what it's like to get thrown under the bus

    Fact is he fell behind the rent.Then had a show at his place the night before the eviction was to take place.Bar then gets destroyed.If he’s so innocent why didn’t he shut down the show when the carnage took place? Did he call the cops? Sounds to me he’s passing the buck for his stupidity.Besides,he was the legal owner of the establishment.He is responsible.

  9. Allison Gray Teetsel

    There had been photos on Tainted Entertainment’s facebook page which clearly showed Rob in the middle of the destruction, including one shot which had him standing next to another guy who was tearing down the ceiling fan. For some reason, these photos have been removed (though I’m pretty sure the PD already have record of them). This evidence would seem to contradict Rob’s statement that he announced the bar’s closing and then left. The fact that Rob acknowledges that he witnessed some of the destruction certainly doesn’t do anything in his favor…what kind of reputable business owner responds to any sort of destruction on their premises by gathering up their personal belongings and leaving? Regardless of the relationship between the business and the landlord, it doesn’t excuse such recklessness and blatant disregard for everyone else, including the patrons, the bands, and the entertainment company. Stango and the others involved in this destruction are incredibly lucky that no one was seriously hurt…though I suppose if they had been, that would just be chalked up to “PUNK ROCK!” too. This isn’t about raging against “The Man”. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions, and showing some integrity. The residents of Kingston deserve more from its business owners, period.

  10. Free Rob Stango

    Welllll clearly at that point he wasn’t the “business owner” anymore. The city of Kingston loves to point the finger but never goes as far as to lift one. So pathetic.

  11. Tainted Entertainment Official

    Allison, … I personally removed them photos in an attempt to NOT promote violence at metal shows. It was wrong that they ever made it through in the first place. I guess perhaps better censorship was needed on my behalf. However, That being said .. I do hope the Kingston PD did indeed record them. More proof of our statement that Mr. Stango did incite a small part of the crowd to cause this damage. Let it also be said that Mr. Stango has tried to call us NUMEROUS times in the last few days but we flatly refuse to field any calls from him. We also have people that can place him there many hours AFTER the show ended still doing damage to the building. The residents of Kingston and especially the Landlord do indeed deserve more. Justice will prevail and the guilty will pay the price. … What is the old saying ? A Liar NEVER tells the same story twice !! Let him ramble on ….

  12. Wayne ( Tainted Entertainment )

    @ FREE ROB STANGO … What kind of ” Metalhead throws one of their own under the bus like this ” ? … One that deserves it Mr. Free … Oooops … Should I say Rob ?? Don’t pass the buck to us or you WILL see us in court testifying against you along with a hell of a lot of other people. Do you really want to go there ?? … And did i mention that Rob is NOT a metal head ?? He is just a pathetic liar that is trying to cover his weasel ass !! Sorry to blow up your spot … NOT !!

  13. that place was a rat hole

    honestly.. that place was disgusting. the floors were sticky every time i was there, on two occasions my friend ordered a drink and there were lipstick smudges on the glass ( thats why i always use pastic cups) the stools had holes in the seats, it smelled like rotting gym shorts and ball sweat on a hot day… BUT it brought a lot of good people together. tainted are grade A dudes and catered to the masses with the bands they booked. i personally know them, and when i heard the next day what rob did i didnt for once think they were exaggerating. especially since not just they but several people in attendance had the same account, and it was seperate occasions i talked to people. rob is a scumbag and trying to find a scapegoat for his dickhead actions. time to put on your big boy undies and man up… karma.. well, its real and it can be nasty.

  14. Dessel S. Ithari

    It’s all the blaming, finger pointing, and throwing everyone else under a bus that is killing the scene right now, not the events of one crazy ass night. Everyone needs to get a f——- life at this point and quit adding fuel to this already blazing fire. Truth is, this should be taken up between Rob and Wind ONLY and not involve anyone else, especially people sitting at home who have probably not stepped foot in the bar more than once or twice in the last year and only get their news from the articles their friends share on their facebook pages. If you really care about this city, and the music scene, you’d let this issue die down and not make such a mountain out of a molehill.

      1. Dessel S. Ithari

        Apologies, didn’t realize I dropped that lol
        But seriously, this whole thing has me heated, and it’s been taken to a level that it should have never made it to

        1. Marlena

          What you fail to realize though is that Rob is naming others to try to take the blame off of him. Now others could face charges for what he did. His actions have had a extremely negative impact on Tainted Entertainment and their followers when the TRUTH is that they had NOTHING to do with what happened. They tried to stop it. When the media stops printing things that are untrue or that are only one side’s story then I think things will die down. I don’t think it should have come to all this, but there is little that can be done now by anyone other than the parties names in all of this. What should have happened that night is another story. Now it’s about damage control after the fact. If Rob was against the “riot” then he should have and would have called the cops. He was the ring leader so that never happened. Now to try and cover his behind he is blaming others that had nothing to do with it.

    1. Kal Getter

      I agree with you 110% that this should of been left between Rob And Wind.. Unfortunately Tainted Ent was Mentioned In The Article and therefore dragged us into it. I’m not here to slander anyone, but I feel the people who attended the show should have the right to speak up. As far as a scene goes…There is no scene. If There was still a metal scene, The Chance Theater would be booking it.. I guess you could say it’s like trying to bring Roadkill back to life…I don’t want Tainted being remembered for “The Basement Riot”. I’d Like Us to be remembered for bringing good heavy shows to the area just like all the other local Metal And Hardcore promoters. If anyone should be “Heated” it should be the Immolation fans who paid to get in, and had to leave because of this nonsense…

  15. Andrew

    I don’t recall being asked permission for my name and a photo I took to be printed in this article about the venue I used to work for. Is that legal?

    1. Marlena

      It really seems like these news reporters need to learn how to do their jobs. Because they are printing things that are either untrue or one sided. They are naming people that had nothing to do with what happened as well. So I really wouldn’t put it past them to continue to use things they shouldn’t. You should find out how they got the photo and your name.

      1. Andrew Johann Datoush

        My name was easy to get. I was a pretty big part in The Basement family over the years, and attended majority of the shows, though I wasn’t at the venue during the night in question.

        I’m not even really upset that they used a photo without asking my permission. I’m more upset that they made it look like I contributed to these articles that are just slamming the venue I worked so hard to help build. I’m very unhappy with the Kingston Times, and with the author of this article for linking my name to this.

        1. admin

          Andrew, we’re sorry you’re unhappy and will take down the pic. (For the record, Jesse Smith had nothing to do with the picture being included with the story.) However, we stand by our reporting and the number of comments confirming our account stand for themselves. – Dan Barton, editor, Kingston Times

      2. admin

        The photo was provided to us, with no stipulations as to future use, for an unrelated story. – Dan Barton, editor, Kingston Times

        1. Andrew Johann Datoush

          Thank you for removing it. I didn’t want my name tied into this article at all outside of the comments I’ve made.

  16. Marlena

    ROB STANGO IS A LIAR!!! First off “free rob stango” you’re an idiot. Have you ever been to the basement? I was there the entire night and I saw and heard everything that was said. Rob was extremely intoxicated that night. By the end of it all he could barely stand up. His “final” speech to the crowd basically consisted of, “This is the last night The Basement will be open so I want you all to F**k this place up.” At first it didn’t seem like anyone was listening to him so Rob proceeded to get the crowd going by hanging from the ceiling fan. I really wish there were pictures to show you so you could see that he in fact was hanging from the ceiling fan. The ceiling in that building isn’t that high. Even someone as short as Rob could reach the fan. Rob was asked by Tainted Entertainment to put a stop to the chaos but Rob refused to listen. The second the last band’s shortened set finished Tainted Entertainment made it very clear to everyone there that they wanted nothing to do with what was happening and that they encouraged their followers to leave when they did as to no longer be involved in Mr.Stango’s riot. Most of the damage happened after the bands, Tainted Entertainment and their followers left. I really wish ignorant people like yourself would keep your mouth shut because it’s obvious you have no clue as to what went down that night. You must be well versed in language and capable of intelligent thoughts and in forming sentences to be able to publically call people you don’t know p—–s. Rather than act professionally about your opinion. Which is only that…an opinion. Because it’s clear that you either weren’t there or if you were there, you were too intoxicated yourself to really remember what happened.

  17. Wayne ( Tainted Entertainment )

    ( Yawn ) … Then MAYBE you are just one of his hooligans ?? Don’t matter either way … Those who defend his actions are just as guilty as he is … What can I say ?? Birds of the feather flock together .. Will you be there to pay his bills on the destruction he incited ?? Probably not …

  18. Chris

    I was there the dude blatantly said “tear this place apart” he enticed the crowed and I watched him kick a wall and rip off siding… The coaxed people into ripping a fan down and basiclly started a small riot in the place one guy slipped on the dibree and got knocked out and the whole place was extremely unsafe if any one says anything else there full of s–t and so is this f—–g guy!

  19. Tom Wickland

    As someone who was there and hadn’t touched a drink that night, I can attest that Mr. Stango did incite the crowd that night. Halfway through Immolation’s set Stango, heavily intoxicated by this point, once again took the mic and blatantly refused to shut down the show (following a mock vote with the crowd). I, myself did not witness Stango participating in said events, however.

  20. Free Rob Stango

    Far from a hooligan. Or a part of his “flock.” The thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is for the past 4 years I’ve watched people kiss his butt to get their shows booked, get free drinks, beg him for jobs even when they were horrible bartenders, avoid cover, etc. etc. Stango has always been a handful but when he had something to offer you all he was a-ok. Now that the bar is gone everyone is teaming up on him. But I guess I wouldn’t expect anything less from Kingston…

    1. the chillEmpress

      Free Rob Stango writes… “The thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is for the past 4 years I’ve watched people kiss his butt to get their shows booked, get free drinks, beg him for jobs even when they were horrible bartenders, avoid cover, etc. etc. Stango has always been a handful but when he had something to offer you all he was a-ok. Now that the bar is gone everyone is teaming up on him. But I guess I wouldn’t expect anything less from Kingston…”

      EXACTLY! So easy to watch all the wanna be sheeple kiss his arse when they wanted to be a part of the bar but as soon as this goes down… he’s like a RED GOAT well… a very destructive naughty Red Goat. so what, he trashed the place, it was gross anyway… they would have had to tear it apart to save it from being condemned anyway.

  21. John Fay

    I was not there but I do not doubt the nature of the carnage. Keep in mind three things:
    1. Rob was probably very drunk and depressed that the Basement was closing. He may not have made the right call that night, but would anyone in his condition/situation be likely to make mature decisions?
    2. Most of the inside of that place had been renovated and maintained by Stango and Co. on his own dime. Maybe not very well, maybe it was dingy, but it was HIS dingy.
    3. The Basement has always been a good rock’n’roll dive where just about anything goes. How many joints like that do you know? CBGB’s is f’ing gone, yo. Most people are too split by cliques, trends and age differentials to form any kind of cohesive scene up here. The Basement may have had its dreary moments but it was an oasis of musical liberty and welcome chaos in this upstate purgatory. The captain should have the right to go down with the ship, even if that means kicking a few holes in the boat.

    It’s a shame that Tainted Entertainment is entangled in the aftermath. I’m still not quite sure of the nature of their entanglement… are they being sued? Has this actually affected their business or are they just afraid they will get some kind of bad reputation? I think that anyone who hears about this event will easily be able to see they are not responsible for the damage. Let’s leave behind the mud-slinging and just let everyone get some rest.

    1. CH

      I wasn’t there, but despite all his faults, I can’t help but love the kid. I just want this up there in case he’s reading. He tried, and for 4 years he took a real beating and kept getting back up. I have some pretty fond memories from that dingy bar with the sticky floor. This is just incredibly unfortunate.

    2. Marlena

      Because Tainted Entertainment was named in the article they are now being looked into for being involved in this mess. They could face charges for what happened that night because of miss information and lies. For only a hopefully short period will it have a negative affect on their company. It’s horrible that many venues are afraid to host metal shows and events like this do nothing to reassure a bar owner that there won’t be another incident like this happen in their establishment. The metal scene has had a bad rep for a long time and Tainted Entertainment has worked hard to promote great shows and have a great turnout and show these bar owners that this kind of crap won’t happen when dealing with them. This will without a doubt affect them getting new venues to agree to allow them to book their. The whole thing is sad because it should have never happened. It is also interesting that the people that are defending Rob’s actions are people who were not there that night. How do you think you can speak intelligently about something you were not present for? I mean really…you have no idea what went down that night, and for you to stand up for him shows how ignorent you really are. Someone should have called the cops on Rob that night. Any one of the patrons could have been seriously injured in the chaos. It also doesn’t matter if he felt because he was the owner he had the right to destroy the place. He rented the building which means that he didn’t have the right to destroy the place. He owed like $9000 in back rent and then caused all that damage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets sued for that, and I also wouldn’t blame Tainted Entertainment for bringing a lawsuit against him as well and the newspaper. Rob should have seriously thought about his actions before acting because this has had a negative impact on a large group of people.

  22. the Chillempress

    sigh, it is nice to see some compassion for Rob in this mix… it must have been a terrible night for him. like the previous poster said, he did all the work, that sticky grungy whatever work on that place. he put in a lot of time making it something of a venue for Kingston. there were a lot of different kinds of shows there, and he was a pretty fun guy. it ended the way it should have, dive bar goes down in a sea of destruction. like I said before.. BAD ASS.. true to character. put yourself in his shoes, would you really have gone out with some sort of professional grace? not his style, and not very fitting for the end of The Basement.

  23. CH

    If you re-read my post, I in no way condone any actions that may have put people at risk or damaged property. You are right, I am ignorant of what went on that night. I just think the whole thing is very unfortunate because I still remember a guy who opened a club with the greatest of intentions who wanted to make some money by giving people a place to go and have some real fun. In the end he fought a real uphill battle which at times was self inflicted, and in the end it broke him in many ways. A lot of people are really mad at him right now, and I can understand why. Just sucks is all.

  24. The Basement Soap Opera

    I heard from someone close with the bar that Rob was having financial difficulty and problems managing the place. He did do a great job in building it up. I had many good times there. It is a shame. I also heard that the landlord was looking to help the manage the place, help fix it up and forgive any back rent in exchange for a percentage. In the end it fell through because the guy did not want to work with Rob. Who would want to partner with a guy that far behind in rent? Anyway, Kingston lost a good venue. Hopefully, someone will fix it up and put another place there.

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