It was the last weekend of Brazil's summer break for many of the students, and the KISS nightclub was packed early Sunday with young people - many of whom attended one of a number of universities and colleges in Santa Maria.
At least 231 people died and hundreds more were injured in the fire that authorities believe began about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when the band's pyrotechnic show ignited insulation material.
Many apparently died from smoke inhalation. Others were trampled in the rush for the exits.
Of the dead, 101 were students at the Federal University of Santa Maria. Another 120 remained hospitalized Monday morning, 79 in critical condition, authorities said.
About 2,000 people were inside the club when the fire broke out - double the maximum capacity of 1,000, said Guido de Melo, a state fire official.
The roof collapsed in several parts of the building, trapping many inside. Firefighters found piles of bodies in the club's bathroom.
It looked, said state lawmaker Valderci Oliveira, "like a war zone."
For survivors of that February night fire in 2003, the Sunday blaze in Santa Maria brought back memories of their own brush with death.
This morning on "Early Start," author John Barylick weighs in on the similarities to both club fires.