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Some reasons Death By Audio was probably the best NYC venue ever

November 13, 2014 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: news

I’ll let you count the reasons yourself. But I’m serious. Death By Audio may be the best music venue that New York City has ever had. Sadly, the beloved DIY-style Brooklyn space is closing up at the end of November due to Vice taking over the entire block (Glasslands is also out) but it has had an amazing run.

My claim might seem like exaggeration. Certainly NYC has had a number of legendary music venues. There are probably some which can boast a more impressive list of legendary bands they’ve hosted (though DBA is no slouch on that front). But great bands are only a part of what makes a venue ITSELF great. The comments are open for any debate, but before formulating any argument, consider the following questions:

  • Were the people who worked at the venue NICE?
  • Were the bands always treated and paid fairly?
  • Was the sound always great?
  • Could you buy a drink for cheap?
  • Did you feel safe and welcome there?
  • Did shows start and end (mostly) on time?
  • Would you get a response when you tried to book a show there?
  • Did they give weird noise bands a shot?
  • Would they book a band because they’re nice people and make great music even if they don’t have big “draw”?
  • Was every show a bill where the bands had something in common and you’d want to see them all?
  • Could bands run through the crowd or smash instruments without being kicked out or security intervening?

At Death by Audio the answer to every one of these was YES, and that’s not the end of my list. Unlike some similar DIY spaces, Death By Audio has been entirely music-focused with a dedicated room for bands to play in, of the perfect small-but-not-tiny size, with a stage (which bands can play on or not). Bands don’t have to worry about knocking an art installation off the walls or breaking the residents’ dishes. (I love those sorts of spaces too, but am still counting this as a plus.) Tireless booker and sound-guy Edan has always been incredibly easy to work with. He also happens to be my personal favorite between-band DJ. (At most shows I’ve been to he just puts on a Sightings album. Seriously, how could you do better?)

So, are there still any other contenders for NYC’s best music venue?

I’ll concede one negative: no outside space for smokers. There’s also no back stage or “green room” but seriously what kind of rock stars need that? So thank you Death By Audio for showing us a better way and let us hope more venues will follow in your footsteps. (There are some others carving out a legacy: Silent Barn, Shea Stadium, more) There are still some more shows coming up, most listed as “Special Guest” or “Top Secret” and which are guaranteed to be something great, so you should probably see as many as you can.

I’ve collected some of my favorite photos taken in recent years at Death by Audio HERE.

 

Doomsday Student, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Dan Friel, Bananas on Strings, Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

April 08, 2012 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .9

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

I caught this awesome, slightly mixed-bill show last Thursday. Doomsday Student, the sorta-resurrected Arab on Radar was the main draw for me and I’ll jump straight to the main takeaway: They’re amazing. But everyone else was great too, so let me start from the beginning.

Bananas on Strings at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

Bananas on Strings at 285 Kent

The first act was billed as Ramble Tamble, which is Turner of Guardian Alien’s project with a drummer, but apparently it expanded to include a whole list of guest stars and became a new band called Bananas on Strings. They went straight for a deep and heavy psychedelic rock, like Acid Mothers Temple minus the rock riffs and any of the quiet parts. The lynchpin here was drummer Adam Autry (of Olneyville Sound System fame) who was able to punch through the thick sound and keep things driving ahead with rolling, off-kilter beats.

Dan Friel at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

Dan Friel at 285 Kent

Then Dan Friel did his thing, which is maximally loud and distorted, but also very melodic and tuneful keyboard music. The rhythms are generally huge, crunching sounds but the lead keyboard lines are usually the type of tunes you could easily whistle while you work. There’s headbanging. 285 Kent’s sound system is booming, but not always really clear, which worked perfectly for Dan Friel.

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .3

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

And then Doomsday Student was up. This band is most of Arab on Radar and a member of the post-Arab on Radar band Chinese Stars. Now, I don’t know the whole back story, nor is it fair to dwell on it, but Arab on Radar reunited, broke up again, and then this band was formed minus one original member. There’s a new name and all-new material, but it’s impossible to ignore that this is essentially the new Arab on Radar. So for those of us who fondly remember that band and their cathartic live performances, the main question is how does Doomsday Student measure up? I am happy to report that they are every bit as great. None of the energy is missing. Here’s some video I took of them. The sound is terrible but the video is good.

The anti-melodic guitars, the looping dance-unfriendly beats, the nasally shrieked vocals (all imitated by almost every No Wavey band since AoR). I want to compliment them on the unified look, something I like in a band. Doomsday Student all wore black t-shirts and pants and matching orange sneakers. A band in uniform says that they’re here to do a job, or perhaps go into battle. I also appreciate the stark light show, all the house lights down and 2 very bright industrial lights on the floor. It makes for great photos. (to see more of the photos I took, go to the Flickr account, starting here.)

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .4

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .7

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

After Doomsday Student was Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. I’d heard this band mentioned, but hadn’t seen them play before this.

Ed Schrader's Music Beat at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .2

Ed Schrader's Music Beat at 285 Kent

I was really impressed by these guys. They had very minimal instrumentation, just a single floor tom and a bass, but they managed to be totally captivating just by having really great, simple songs and a strong performance. Maybe this is what the Violent Femmes would sound like if they formed in Baltimore in the year 2012? Well, these guys seem way more punk, but I’m trying to get you in the ballpark.

Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent

Dan Deacon’s Pardalince Bird project went on last, despite originally being scheduled to go first. There were some lengthy technical difficulties getting all the 4 channels of sound working too. Then as Dan explained, this would have made a lot more sense if it had happened first since it’s really background stuff, steady synth drones with occasional moany vocals. Lots of digital notes floating up and down scales. So scheduling and circumstances conspired to make this a sort of anticlimactic finish, but I’m not going to complain when this many good acts can be put together on one bill.

Tom Smith and Sightings, Fat Worm of Error, Child Abuse, Don Fleming at Death by Audio 01-04-2012

January 10, 2012 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .9

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio

I showed up to this show and the place was, surprisingly to me, already full. Sometimes shows that are can’t-miss line-ups of legends in my mind have single-digit attendance so I’m not really able to predict these things. But I was happy to see that these bands are apparently not just legends to me.

I completely missed the first act, which was Tom Smith and Don Fleming playing together. Don Fleming is a longtime NYC avant-rocker and Tom Smith is best known as the central figure from the post-music band To Live And Shave In L.A. Tom currently resides in Germany and was briefly in the states around the holidays, playing a few select shows. So I’m sad to have missed their performance.

The second band, Child Abuse, was going on. No photos, I was in the back of the room and they wouldn’t have been good anyway. Child Abuse are a bass drums keyboard trio who play metally brutal prog. Very technical, very tight, but with very messy and grungy sounds. It’s funny actually, most of the time the keyboard sounds like a distorted bass and the bass (run through some synth pedals I’m guessing) sounds like a keyboard. They were as great as ever.

Then the anti-rock, max-confusion band Fat Worm of Error was up!

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .1

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio

Notice how it’s not even clear what’s going on in this photo? That’s how they sound, but much moreso. Of course 5 people just noodling and doing separate things would be pretty boring. Okay, maybe I’d think that was pretty cool too, but what makes Fat Worm really mind-bending is the way they have a plan and they’ve really honed their own style of playing – in a way that sounds like chaos at almost every moment. Until both guitarists suddenly play the same sequence of notes exactly together and your brain twists 360 degrees in your head in an attempt to figure out what just happened. More Fat Worm photos:

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .4

Fat Worm of Error after one of a few costume changes

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .3

Fat Worm of Error, feeling it at Death by Audio

I spent a little time chatting in the back room and realized this was almost like a reunion (to me) of people from a show waaay back – at the Polish National Home, now known as the Club Warsaw. Maybe I’ll write all my recollections from that show someday, but it’s where I first met lots of the people playing or in the audience. Anyway, with all these long-time friends and acquaintances in attendance, there was definitely a very friendly and supportive vibe going on. You could tell from all the chatting and joking and cheers, but also from the huge smile on Tom’s face between songs.

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .4

Tom Smith with Sightings at Death by Audio

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .2

Mark Morgan's guitar moves

Sightings were doing their thing, sounding as focused (yet blurred) as ever. I was told there was exactly one practice for this show but it would have been hard to guess they hadn’t been playing this set for a month on tour. Everyone seemed 100% in command, holding back or cutting loose exactly when needed with no nervous or puzzled glances. It’s a pretty perfect pairing too, Sightings and Tom Smith, as they both work in a similar mode: composed but loose, planned but spontaneous. Sightings works with sound shards and Tom works with words, both of them stretching their material to the breaking point.

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .3

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .7

Mark Morgan of Sightings, bending spacetime

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .10

Sightings w Tom Smith (and Pat Murano!)

Oh yeah, this fellow named Pat Murano also played with these guys. You can see him lurking behind that synth in the photo above. I can’t say too much about his playing, which is probably a good thing because it means it blended right into the Sightings vibe.

The set was short but satisfying. Definitely worth catching, but if you missed it some people seemed to be videotaping and recording so hopefully that will turn up online soon. Great show all around!

Even more photos over at the NO-CORE Flickr.

 

You can now help the Silent Barn!

July 20, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: news

at the Dog Leather / Narwhalz / Nonhorse / Buddy Bag show

taken at the Dog Leather show at Silent Barn

In case you hadn’t heard, the DIY music and art venue The Silent Barn has fallen on hard times. This place, located in Ridgewood, Queens (just beyond Bushwick, Brooklyn) has been the place I’ve most frequently gone to see shows. They’ve hosted some fantastic events I’ve helped organize, like 2 Int’l Noise Conference On Tour shows. They’ve been huge supporters of noise/weirdness music. It’s the venue I’ve felt most at home at.

Over this past weekend the Silent Barn was burgled, ransacked, and vandalized. They estimate that $15,000 worth of sound equipment was stolen, not including personal items. (The cats are safe!) On top of this, there are further legal challenges. As a DIY space, the Silent Barn would have to make huge investments in money and time to recover and operate as a legit, secure, fire code compliant and legal space. I am overjoyed to announce that the Silent Barn operators are NOT packing up, but are taking this opportunity to make that goal a reality. Now you can help! You can donate to the cause via Kickstarter. I INSIST that you give if you can. You can hit that link or see the widget at the bottom of this post.

…and now at the risk of getting really sappy. The people running the Silent Barn have not been doing it to make money. They are all genuinely nice people who have just wanted to create special and memorable events and a sense of community. A situation like this can be incredibly disheartening, and can make one feel like everything you’ve invested in and worked toward has been destroyed. That is not true. When you make investments in friends and community, that cannot be stolen. The Silent Barn is not just a place for kids to party, places like this make the city a richer, more attractive, and safer place to live. Mayor Bloomberg should be handing them a check every week for the service they provide. The Silent Barn is asking for $40,000. Let’s blow that out of the water. Let’s make that thing hit $100,000. It appeared this morning and as of this moment is already at almost $6,000 and accelerating! If you cannot give money but live in the NYC area, you may be able to donate supplies or manual labor. Email silentbarn@gmail.com to be placed on the “willing to help” mailing list.

Some reviews I’ve written of shows at the Silent Barn are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Rat Bastard, humanbeast, AIDS Wolf, Shawn Greenlee, Diamond Black Heart, DubKnowDub at Death by Audio 01/15/11

January 24, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

HumanBeast at Death by Audio

HumanBeast at Death by Audio

Phew! Some kind of line-up, right? This is going to be the Brooklyn show to top in 2011. And there were lots of big cameras popping off everywhere, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this event has already shown up on a bunch of other music blogs. But hey, I was there, I took pictures, it was awesome, I may as well put my show review out into the virtual world too.

dubknowdub – live at zebulon

So first of all, I missed DubKnowDub, but they’re great. I know the show had 6 bands on the bill, but this being Brooklyn, I still didn’t believe the show would actually start before 9PM. So as a consolation, hit play on the above track and let it be your soundtrack to No-Core browsing. (Music starts about the 1:45 mark.) I don’t know who DubKnowDub are exactly, but they get on lots of great shows somehow and they’re tons of fun. Yup, it’s kinda dub, and also kinda noise. Great live. Don’t make my mistake next time!

Diamond Black Hearted Boy at Death by Audio

Diamond Black Hearted Boy at Death by Audio

I did get there in time to catch Diamond Black Hearted Boy, a guy I’ve met before though I didn’t mentally piece together that it was the same person until I talked to him at the show! DBHB comes from the same Richmond freak scene that Narwhalz and Shams do and performance-wise you can tell he’s on the same page. Live, it’s kinda confrontational (for anyone who’s not into it) or just good fun if you are into it. Lots of goofy genre tags have been slapped on him, but honestly, I’d say his music is sort of proto-industrial. Claustrophobic, pushed-too-far-into-the-red samples and loops, usually rhythmic, sometimes with actual beats. Tonight DBHB also made ample use of a piercing whistle blown straight into the microphone which sounded pretty awesome (maybe a little tiresome after a while though) like it was hitting the resonant frequency of your eardrums.

Shawn Greenlee at Death by Audio

Shawn Greenlee at Death by Audio

Shawn Greenlee’s performance was really fantastic. He used some kind of camera to scan from a handmade book, and then what must have been custom software to turn the images into noise. Then there was a weird spinning disk, and he’d use the trackpad kind of like a Kaossilator, and… well, just watch him do his thing here. That’s my best guess as to what was going on. It sounded super-sweet too, better than it came out in this video. I was captivated.

And then, humanbeast. This was SO GOOD.

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 3

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 3

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 2

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 2

Last year at the International Noise Conference in Miami, I, like any mortal person, had to take a break and miss some of the acts. When I got back and asked people what I missed, everyone kept saying “Humanbeast! Humanbeast!” (I’m using the no-space spelling that appears on the tape I got) – so I was excited to finally see these guys. They did not disappoint! Their music was absolutely gorgeous, while at the same time being really dirty and messed up – which was also sort of how their performance played out – and how the theme of their lyrics go – taken together it’s cohesive, deadly effective, and totally entrancing. Amazing music meets amazing noise. Again, I couldn’t really capture the sound in full, but here’s my video of them playing “Come Through the Cloth.” I just watched it again and got chills at the point where she sings at the top of her lungs without the microphone.

Rat Bastard & Co at Death by Audio 2

I don't know if all those expensive cameras are safe there...

And then Rat Bastard of INC and Laundryroom Squelchers fame took to the stage, with his guitar with only 4 strings and 4 tuning pegs remaining. He was joined by Roger of Monotract fame and another guy who I probably should know but don’t, both on guitars. This was basically a performance following the Laundryroom Squelchers M.O. – a terrific squall that sounds at first like sheer white noise. The infamous Nondor Nevai made his trademark after-the-band-has-started appearance and took over vocals, striking poses but largely inaudible over the din. The thing about these Rat performances is that the beginning always seems just like random loud noodling, but if you’re willing to keep listening it starts to take shape and details come out at you. And these guys must have been listening to one another, because somehow they all knew when it was done around the same time.

AIDS Wolf at Death by Audio

AIDS Wolf at Death by Audio

AIDS Wolf went on last, and this was the first time I’ve seen their new(ish) 3-person line-up. (and Chloe’s new glasses!) Losing a guitarist has certainly not diminished the volume or chaos of AIDS Wolf live. In fact, I think I like the new sound even better. The band members really seem to be working toward some sort of Harry-Pussy-like psychic communication music that relies on feeling and intuition more than counting beats. They also introduced some sampled sounds and vocal effects which broadened the sound pallet. At least, I think that was an effect and not just a technical difficulty – but you know what? I really enjoy it when a band can make me wonder what’s intentional and what’s not. Living at the edge of chaos. I was also happy to see that the musical chaos inspired some physical chaos in the crowd. It looks like people are just standing around in the above photo, but there was some serious mosh action happening.

In closing: Awesome show. Good people, good times, great sounds. Show ran on time?!?! (props to Edan) Amazing. I went home feeling reinvigorated about music in general.

NY Eye and Ear Fest this weekend

May 22, 2010 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: news

NY Eye & Ear Fest at Knitting Factory

Another one of those “can’t miss events” is upon us. Today and tomorrow at the new Knitting Factory location in Brooklyn (conveniently near the Lorimer L train stop) Pendu.org’s NY Eye and Ear fest is going on.

This is cool enough to finally convince me to break my silence and start posting up to the No-Core blog again. And yes, it’s happening TODAY, but hey, all the other music blogs announce shows the day-of, so why can’t I? (and besides, it’s tomorrow too)

This is a big music event, but also a big record fair with lots of cool experimental and weirdo labels setting up tables. There was even a No-Core table last year. The line-up consists of a wide variety of avant/out/noisy/experimental music. It naturally skews to organizer Todd Pendu (not the same person as Todd P!) ‘s tastes, which seem to be for the dark, moody, and abstract. But there’s a big line-up of wildly varying styles so anyone interested in anything interesting… should find something to… interest them?

I’ll duplicate the list of performers and links below. I’ll be heading over there later today! Check it out!

SATURDAY MAY 22

1:00AM Blank Dogs (http://www.myspace.com/blankdogtime)
12:30AM White Ring (http://www.myspace.com/whytering)
12:00AM Effi Briest (http://www.myspace.com/effibriest)
11:30 Mirror Mirror (http://www.myspace.com/mirrormirrornyc)
11:00 Living Days (http://www.myspace.com/livingdays)
10:30 Passions (http://www.myspace.com/limitlesspassion)
10:00 Twin Stumps (http://www.myspace.com/twinstumps)
9:30 Liturgy (http://www.myspace.com/liturgynybm)
9:00 Konnichiwa (http://www.myspace.com/konnichiwatheband)
8:30 Fostercare (http://www.myspace.com/f8stercare)
8:00 Love Like Deloreans (http://www.myspace.com/lovelikedeloreans)
7:30 Hex Breaker Quintet (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Hex_Breaker_Quintet/)
7:00 Follower (http://www.myspace.com/followerfollower)
6:30 Human Resources (http://www.myspace.com/humanresources)
6:00 Dubknowdub (http://www.myspace.com/dubknowdub)
5:30 Pop 1280 (http://www.myspace.com/population1280)
5:00 Eli Keszler (http://www.myspace.com/elikeszler)
4:30 C. Lavender (http://www.myspace.com/paidinpuke)
4:00 Loose Limbs (http://www.myspace.com/looselimbsbrooklyn)

SUNDAY MAY 23

1:30AM Xeno & Oaklander (http://www.myspace.com/xenoandoaklander)
1:00AM No Fun Acid (http://www.myspace.com/nofunacid)
12:30AM Blondes (http://www.myspace.com/blondeblondeblondes)
12:00AM Cult of Youth (http://www.myspace.com/cultofyouthband)
11:30 Naam (http://www.myspace.com/naamdestroysfaces)
11:00 SSPS (http://www.myspace.com/secretservants)
10:30 Freshkills (http://www.myspace.com/freshkills)
10:00 Laurel Halo (http://www.myspace.com/laurelhalo)
9:30 Hunters (http://www.myspace.com/huntersny)
9:00 Figure Study (http://www.myspace.com/figurestudy)
8:00 The Gamut (http://www.myspace.com/thegamut)
8:30 Omega Jarden (http://www.myspace.com/avaomegajarden)
7:30 Desert of Colors (http://www.myspace.com/desertofcolors)
7:00 Chaos*CM*Majik (www.myspace.com/chaosmajik)
6:30 DIABLO (http://www.myspace.com/redglaer)
6:00 GDFX (http://www.myspace.com/therealgregfox)
5:30 Hallux (http://www.myspace.com/halluxmusic)
5:00 Memorial Gore
4:30 Effing (http://www.myspace.com/thenameofthisbandiseffing)
4:00 Source of Yellow (http://www.myspace.com/sourceofyellow)

http://www.pendu.org/nyeyeandear/

Gay Beast – Satanized – Hot Guts – live at Silent Barn

September 07, 2009 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

I think I promised some photos from this show quite a while ago. (click for slightly bigger files) The Silent Barn is a DIY venue in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and the closest thing you’re going to get to a house show around here. First up, Hot Guts play some hi-NRG garage rock through gobs of effects. It actually sounds kind of like this image:

Hot Guts at Silent Barn

Hot Guts at Silent Barn

Gay Beast played in the middle and I think I’ve raved about them enough, right? It’s twice as great live as on record. Brain-melting nu-math no-wave.

Gay Beast at Silent Barn 1

Gay Beast at Silent Barn 1

Gay Beast at Silent Barn 2

Gay Beast at Silent Barn 2

Satanized closed things out with an intense and sweaty set. They play harsh math/noise-rock, often leaning toward the technical. This night things leaned toward the heavy and pounding.

Satanized at Silent Barn 1

Satanized at Silent Barn 1

Satanized at Silent Barn 2

Satanized at Silent Barn 2

Satanized at Silent Barn 3

Satanized at Silent Barn 3

Awesome. Sorry about the slow blogging, but things will pick up here. And hey, if anyone thinks there is a Brooklyn show that I really shouldn’t miss, be sure to shoot me an email!

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