A Melbourne guitarist was hospitalised earlier this month after he was stabbed with a broken bottle of whisky at a Byron Bay show headlined by The Smith Street Band.

Julien ‘Jules’ Rozenbergs was playing with ska/punk/reggae act The Bennies in support of their good mates, The Smith Street Band, at Byron Bay’s The Shed on Wednesday 13th February, when during the headline slot an intoxicated punter with a bottle of whiskey “was knocking people over” at the all ages show, Rozenbergs tells The Music.

The guitarist notes that the drunken punter was “becoming a bit of a liability,” after being told to calm down by other gig-goers, and even a warming from Smith Street Band frontman Wil Wagner.

Rozenbergs stepped in and asked the man to leave the venue, once outside he attempted to restrain the man; “He was trying to break the bottle on a bin and I thought ‘if this bottle breaks, this is next level, it’s on’,” recalls Rozenbergs.

A scuffle esnued in which the intoxicated punter then allegedly struck the guitarist over the head with the bottle, breaking it, and stabbing the broken end into Rozenbergs’ armpit. It was only after the man was restrained that the Bennies guitarist noticed the ’20cm by 20cm’ gash in his armpit that “looked like a roast beef roll that’s been opened up,” while his head had been split by a two-inch gash.

Rozernbergs was rushed to Byron Bay hospital where he was given a medical assessment that found that the gash in his underarm was five millimetres from a major artery, he was then transferred to Tweed Heads to get surgery at their trauma centre.“I’m a firm believer that there isn’t violence at gigs… I just found myself at the wrong place at the wrong time.” – Jules Rozenbergs, The Bennies

Doctors said the guitarist was lucky that his arteries had not been cut, surgeons admitting the wouldn’t have survived the attack had they been sliced in the scuffle.

Following surgery and 72 hours in hospital, Rozenbergs was flown back to Melbourne – thanks to funds raised by fellow touring bands and crew – where he will undergo rehabilitation over an expected six to eight weeks recovery.

“The main thing I’ll take away from this is I could be dead, dude,” Rozenbergs told The Music this week, after having 70 stitches redressed in Melbourne. “I’m not angry at the guy, I don’t hold onto that shit,” he said over the man’s arrest by local police, “I’m just bummed I can’t play the rest of the tour.”

Rozenbergs was also heartened by the outpouring of support from friends and fans following the incident. “The flights are one thing,” he said of fellow bands and crew chipping in to get him back to Melbourne, “but the support from it – the community is fucking incredible.”

Rozernbergs does have concerns about the way the stabbing his affected him, and not just physically. “For better or worse, this is going to affect me. I can’t just sweep this under the carpet,” saying that the incident would have repurcussions: “I don’t want it to, I don’t want to be wary around crowds… [but] I think it will heighten certain aspects.”

The guitarist was keen to emphasise that he’s determined to keep touring and playing, calling the Byron Bay incident an “anomaly.”

“I was at the SLAM Rally in Melbourne, I’m a firm believer that there isn’t violence at gigs,” he says. “I just found myself at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Meanwhile The Bennies will continue supporting The Smith Street Band on their (now rather unfortunately named) Young Drunks Tour, dates below, announcing that Lee Hartney would be filling in for Rozenbergs on guitar while he recovers.

The Bennies guitarist Jules Rozenbergs after being released from Hospital.

The Smith Street Band Australian Tour 2013 Dates

Young Drunks Tour w/ Bomb The Music Industry (USA)* and The Bennies (VIC)
For all ticketing info visit: www.thesmithstreetband.com

FRI FEB 22 – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS (18+)

SAT FEB 23 – The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne VIC **SOLD OUT!**

SUN FEB 24 – Phoenix Youth Centre, Melbourne VIC (All ages)

THU FEB 28 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC* (18+)

FRI MAR 01 – Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA* (18+)

SAT MAR 02 – The Loft, Warrnambool VIC* (18+)

SUN MAR 03 – The Barwon Club, Geelong VIC* (18+)

*Bomb The Music Industry! not appearing

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