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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 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.

Ende Tymes Fest part 2: June 25 and 26, 2011

July 15, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: news, photos, shows

Ende Tymes Fest panel discussion left halfEnde Tymes Fest panel discussion left half

On Saturday I dragged myself out to Outpost, a place around the corner from the Silent Barn, for the panel discussion with Phill Niblock, GX Jupitter-Larsen, Al Margolis, Katherine Liberovskaya, AMK, Rat Bastard, Gen Ken Montgomery, Damion Romero, and of course Ende Tymes organizer and long-time noisemaker himself, Bob Bellerue. The subject of the discussion was listed as “Street-level experimental music and the evolution of technology and culture.” That does sound like it could be a stuffy snooze-fest, but it was actually very UN-like some of the pretentious art school events I’ve seen. I almost forgot what it was like just to listen to artists talking about why they like doing what they do, without trying to convince anyone that they’re brilliant and totally deserve that grant or gallery show. Rat Bastard’s opinions also kept things lively, as he disagreed with the other panel members on most points.

John Mannion at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

John Mannion at Ende Tymes Fest

I didn’t catch the video screening on any of the days, but I did get back in time to catch John Mannion kicking off Saturday night. Speaking of doing a lot with a little, Mannion’s main instrument is an open box fan, to which he applies an amplified screwdriver and subway pass. A laptop and effects also play a role, but still, it’s fun seeing the noises being produced by the fan-playing.

KILT filled the room with some thick wall-to-wall sound. Phil Niblock was one of the more famous performers (I gathered) and had one of the bigger crowds. However, he really only sat at his laptop so there was nothing to see. The sounds were a thick and constantly shifting river of tones. It sounded cool, but I felt like it would be more appropriate in an art installation setting where people come and go, as there was no big change in the sound at any point and little to watch.

Sick Llama at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

Sick Llama at Ende Tymes Fest

Sick Llama I’ve also never seen but heard the name pretty often. He made slow-motion echoed sounds sort of like… well, not entirely unlike a sick llama. GX Jupitter-Larsen, of Haters fame (a band which is sometimes just him so I’m not sure what the distinction is) did something or other with a suitcase that resulted in a heavy rumbling noise. The sound was nicely gritty and physical, but I do wish I could have gotten a better idea of how it was created.

Kyle Clyde at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

Kyle Clyde at Ende Tymes Fest

Kyle Clyde had a simple set-up and sonic palette compared to some, but really sold it with a gripping performance. Then at the other end of the spectrum, and closing out Saturday night, Yellow Tears had the most elaborate set-up with TVs, remote video, bowls of water, keyboards, etc. I couldn’t quite tell if their performance-art-like show, which seemed to be all about … drinking pee? … was supposed to be dark and disturbing or just a goof. It did end with someone getting a pie in the face though.

My resolve and health were deteriorating by night 3, though the quality of the acts didn’t slip. But the heat and hours of breathing cigarette smoke were starting to make me ill, so I made Sunday a shorter night and probably missed some great stuff. I was told that Gen Ken Montgomery was awesome.

Mike Shiflet created a varied range of textured sounds, almost peaceful but never boring. Damian Romero somehow made the walls, floor, and ceiling vibrate with some intense frequencies. It felt like he’d turned the whole Silent Barn into a speaker which we were all inside of. I was really, really glad I caught the set by I’D M Thfft Able (that spelling might be close to correct…) which turned out to be another one of my favorites.

I'D M Thfft Able at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

I'D M Thfft Able at Ende Tymes Fest

Much like Crank Sturgeon or john Mannion, I’D M has an approach where you can see how all the sounds are made. It’s simply contact-miked objects and improvised vocal sounds. But from that basic starting point, I’D M went way, way outside the box with his performance, creating some of the oddest, most surprising, and harshest sounds (his amplified scratching down a chalkboard made one audience member cover her ears and run to the back of the room). At various points he stumbled around, dropping and rolling bowling and billiard balls while singing stream-of-consciousness phrases. I wasn’t the only one impressed and I think he got the wildest cheers and applause of all the acts.

ID M Thfft Able at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

ID M Thfft Able at Ende Tymes

This overview is seriously incomplete, but this YouTube user, mathgrind, got far more and better videos than anything I got. I’m embedding a playlist of his Ende Tymes videos below, in no particular order. Please feel free to add other links in the comments.


Ende Tymes Festival part 1: June 24

July 08, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: photos, shows, videos

The weekend before last I caught a good portion of the epic Ende Tymes Fest at the Silent Barn in Queens. This is far from a complete overview, but I did catch most of the acts and got a few good photos and videos, so I’m going to post them up in parts. This was a 3-day, all-noise event with several long-time veterans of the noise scene represented. And when I say noise, I don’t mean just the “anything goes” stuff, but specifically the rhythm-free, note-free, harsh sound variety.

Twisty Cat at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

Twisty Cat at Ende Tymes Fest

When I got there on Friday evening, TwistyCat were going on. They’re locals who do cool free-horns through effects sounds. It’s not the harsh skronk of Borbetomagus, but it’s also not drone stuff. Somewhere in between. Vertonen did a fun set that ended with a feedback noise jam over Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” which (I’m pretty sure) just happened to start coming through his radio.

Crank Sturgeon at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

Crank Sturgeon at Ende Tymes Fest

Crank Sturgeon is one of the scene veterans and someone I’d never seen before, so this was a real treat for me. My personal tastes also lean toward the absurdist/low-brow/dada, which had a smaller representation at the Ende Tymes, so this performance was very welcome. In addition to all that, I am always impressed when someone can do a LOT with a LITTLE. Sure, you can make some mean noise with a laptop, table full of effects pedals, modular synth and mixer – but can you put on an amazing noise show with TWO TIN CANS AND A STRING?

After the above segment, Crank Sturgeon proceeded to stretch packing tape across the venue and back (contact miked, which sounded amazing), strung up a violin from the center and did some kind of performance piece that seemed to be about him ejaculating cotton ball “clouds” onto a packing tape “sky.”

MV Carbon put in a good set of mutant sounds made with effects and a cello. (Was that instrument a cello? I don’t even know.) Bran (…) Pos was really cool to watch, creating noise from processed vocal sounds along with processed video of himself making the vocal sounds.

The Rat Bastard Experience also brought the low-brow in a big way. The Experience was comprised of all of the members of Cellular Chaos with Rat on guitar, C Lavender on a radio or something, and Nondor Nevai on “vocals.” And by “vocals” I mean freaking out and tackling people while sometimes holding a microphone.

Rat Bastard Experience at Ende Tymes Fest 2011

Rat Bastard Experience at Ende Tymes Fest

ISA Christ actually did bring a strong rhythmic element in, but run through a suitcase-of-noise-gear. And Hex Breaker Quartet closed out Friday night with their heavy psych-drone. Filling the position in the NYC scene vacant since Double Leopards?

Part 2 coming soon!

Paranoid Critical Revolution, Altaar, Benn Miller, Deathcrush, Neg-Fi, E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03-13-11

March 25, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn 03/13/11

I am hereby going to dub Neg-Fi “The most punctual band in New York City.” Even though they did cut an agreement with the organizers to start a few minutes after their designated time and put in what, for them, qualifies as an epic set (20 minutes?), I’m pretty sure no other band is in the running for this title. I’m always using the word minimal to describe Neg-Fi’s music, but I don’t think that’s really the right word, because they’re always plenty loud and fill the room with sound. It’s just such tightly scripted and executed music. Punctual is actually closer. Or maybe maximal.

E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03/13/11

E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03/13/11

This was one of the Silent Barn’s upstairs-downstairs shows, and downstairs the one-man noise project E.I.D. (Explosive Improvised Device) was going on. This contact mic harsh noise has been around almost 20 years now if you think about it, though it seems to be less popular at the moment and I think E.I.D. is too early for a retro resurgence – but he’s definitely carrying the flame.

The sounds here were actually really varied and dynamic. Lots of quiet-loud moments. More like a Masonna without the vocals than a C.C.C.C. or something. My only complaint: protective gloves! Does Masonna wear kneepads? Does Lucas Abela put masking tape on the edges of his glass? Bleeding for your noise is just part of the HARSHness, dude. Okay, okay, I’m giving E.I.D. a hard time, but there’s just something about a guy doing the full-on, serious noise thing (in a Macronympha T-shirt no less) that begs for a little heckling. But for real, I was impressed by how good this sounded.

Benn Miller at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Benn Miller at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Back upstairs was Benn Miller, who played a table full of fun, ancient-looking stuff. Cassette tapes, loop station, reel-to-reel, old synthesizer, and saxophone run through effects. There was also a drummer who did a good job of playing along, keeping things loose enough so that the oddball sounds could run free, and just tight enough to add a little rock. My only complaint here is that all the stuff could have been turned up because the drums were by far the loudest part.

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11 1

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Then Deathcrush (from Norway I discovered) played, and at first I honestly thought this was just terrible, but I was totally won over by the end. So many things made it seem like this was going to be awful. First, I’m always skeptical of bands that seem like they spent more time getting their hair, make-up and clothes right than their music. (male or female of course) Deathcrush came out of the gate with rock star “attitude” and “moves,” accompanied by completely un-tuned guitars and beyond rudimentary technique. (except the drummer who clearly had some solid skills) My first impression was that this band did all their song-writing and practicing in front of a mirror with non-functioning prop instruments, and this was the first time they’d been handed the real thing to use. It was like they thought they were in Def Leppard but came out sounding more like… The Dead C?

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11 2

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11

But as I watched, I found I did a complete 180 in my thinking. First I thought: if they were pulling out rock star moves and sounding like Def Leppard, would that be better? No way, that would be terrible. If they sounded like a sludgy & dirgey noise-rock band but spent the show crouching over their amps and staring at their feet, would that be better? Again, no way. Then at some point they did this one song and by some combination of willpower and magical happenstance it sounded perfect. Even when the guitarist was holding up her guitar and gesturing to her tourmates that a new string was needed, feedback howling away and sounding no different than it was when she was furiously doing something with it a minute ago – there was this great semi-melodic vortex of sound going on, like a Venus in Furs moment – and I officially changed my mind. The headbanging into the audience finale sealed the deal. Deathcrush were kind of awesome.

Paranoid Critical Revolution at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Paranoid Critical Revolution at Silent Barn 03/13/11

The Paranoid Critical Revolution, usually a duo, played without their drummer, who I’m told had quit the band. So it was just member Reg Bloor playing guitar. Reg also plays in Glenn Branca’s guitar orchestra, and on her own she sounds like a whole orchestra of guitars. I don’t really know how it’s done, but using an amp that doesn’t look all that big, she can blow out any eardrums in the room. Earplugs take a ton of the treble away, but it still sounds hellishly loud.

We’d had a brief conversation about black metal before the show started and with that in my mind, I couldn’t help thinking how Reg’s style is kind of black metal. The super-fast strumming with little notes picked out of a hurricane of white noise. It’s like part black metal, part no wave, and part nuclear holocaust.

Because of some overlap, I only caught the end of Altaar’s set. They also had thoroughly filled the room with smoke-machine fog, so my point and shoot camera was useless. This was the band that had been described as black metal, but we Americans do know a thing or two about our metal genres, and just because a band is from Norway does not make them black metal. I’d put this firmly in the sludge/doom metal category. Maybe with a noise-rock bent, given all the pedals in use. So what I saw was about 10 minutes of slow, heavy, thudding noise-dirge – which it wouldn’t really be fair to judge these guys on, as it was probably just the triumphant climax to an epic show. I’m going to assume that’s the case.

Dog Leather / Narwhalz / Nonhorse / Buddy Bag / Guardian Alien at Silent Barn 2/17/11

February 19, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

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

this show brought to you by the number 8

This show got far crazier than any I’ve seen in Brooklyn recently. (okay, technically the Silent Barn’s in Queens) The headliners here were a super-group merger of Sewn Leather and Dog Synth/DJ Dog Dick – both dudes who trade in weird noise/beats mergers – into one band known as DOG LEATHER. Somehow this duo seems instantly more popular than both of those guys together, which seems weird but makes sense. This is just an idea that as soon as you hear it, you know it’s going to be amazing. Everyone came to this show just knowing it was going to be amazing. And it was. Things got kind of crazy. How crazy?

That crazy. Now let me back up and mention some of the other stuff. The first act, filling in for Shams who had to cancel, was Guardian Alien. I recognized these people from other Brooklyn acts but hadn’t seen this one yet. Improvised blast beats, some kind of stringed instrument that sounded somewhere between a lap steel and a sitar, and some free vocals and interpretive dance. That combination might sound like it could go either way, but this had tons of energy and ended long before it needed to. (always good)

unknown at Silent Barn

Guardian Alien at Silent Barn

Then came Buddy Bag, who played really, reeeeaally rudimentary sludge rock. So caveman-style that the drummer just dropped 2 toms flat on the floor and played with one drum stick and one random big piece of wood. Depending on who you are, you might think that sounds like it would be either awesome or horrible.

Buddy Bag at Silent Barn

Buddy Bag at Silent Barn

Then came Narwhalz (of sound), whose performances I always look forward to. They generally involve a combination of confusion, technical difficulties, freakouts, and “crowd work.” Narwhalz plays Gameboy programming that has been sounding heavier and noisier every time I see him. In fact, this time things sounded so blown out and distorted that it wasn’t clear what parts were the buzzing and popping of a faulty connection or the intended sound.

Narhwalz (of sound) at Silent Barn 2

Narhwalz (of sound) at Silent Barn

For reasons I couldn’t make sense of at the time, the crowd just went nuts for him! Not that they shouldn’t, and I’ve definitely seen a crowd of like-minded friends go nuts in Philly to Narwhalz once, but I usually expect something like this (from the last time I saw him play Silent Barn):

Narwhalz at Silent Barn 06-23-10 2

Narwhalz at Silent Barn 06-23-10

but instead the crowd did this:

Narwhalz mosh pit

Narwhalz mosh pit at Silent Barn 02-17-11

A nice surprise. In retrospect I think the combination of a generally excited audience and a few in-the-know instigators is the combination that triggered this. Up next was Nonhorse (Or is it Non-Horse?) which is G Lucas Crane’s tape manipulation project. It’s super-fun to watch, as he juggles multi-colored tapes spilling out of a suitcase and works a pair of cassette players (with some effects) like an expert DJ would cut records.

Nonhorse at Silent Barn

Nonhorse at Silent Barn

And then Dog Leather was up.

Dog Leather at Silent Barn 1

The Dog half of Dog Leather at Silent Barn

Their show was actually something of a slow build, starting with a mish-mash of noises before breaking into some of their rap songs. Set to blown out beats, primitive electronic sounds, and not-quite-on-the-beat samples, all mashed together into a fuzzy wall of noise – but yeah – rap songs. Rapping that sounded kind of like Skinny Puppy vocals, but still.

Dog Leather at Silent Barn 2

The Leather half of Dog Leather at Silent Barn

And it just got wilder and wilder. A sledgehammer appeared. A chair appeared. And then a gigantic number 8 appeared. Lots of crowd-surfing happened. My show-organizer instincts almost kicked in several times, but I resisted the urge to remove objects or take down boot-swinging crowd-surfers when I noticed that the people primarily responsible for the chaos were all the people who lived at the Silent Barn! They were loving it. EVERYONE was loving it. I didn’t see anyone in there who wasn’t laughing and smiling even while they were getting knocked over and piled upon. We all knew this was absurd and ridiculous and goofy and the best thing ever. The perfect antidote to the self-conscious, second-guessing, people-watching attitude that NYC has a bad reputation for.

And I leave you with a video of a Dog Leather song from early in their set, before things got quite so out of hand (though you can tell people are already rocking to it). This video strangely came out sounding really good.

Sediment Club/Wharton Tiers Ensemble/Doldrums/Neg-Fi/Knife City/Nat Roe/more at Silent Barn 12/17/10

December 19, 2010 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

I caught this super-cold and super-booked show at the Silent Barn Friday evening. I saw everyone at the upstairs show, but missed a bunch of the downstairs going-ons unfortunately.

Neg-Fi and Doldrums watch

keeping warm at Silent Barn

Did I mention it was cold? I guess the Silent Barn crew is living without heat this winter. Hardcore. Above you see Neg-Fi and Doldrums watching another act and trying to keep warm.

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn

Neg-Fi did their tight and punctual No Wave two-step thing. Got the crowd moving without a single drumbeat.

unknown band at Silent Barn

unknown band in Silent Barn basement

Then I headed downstairs to see what was going on at the more avant/weird-noise show. This band played, and it sounded pretty awesome when they actually played and weren’t just chatting with their 5 friends who were there. I know that seems like the natural thing to do when you feel like your 5 friends are the only ones paying attention, but hey, that’s why I always advocate selling it like you’re playing for thousands no matter what. Because maybe that kid in the back corner is actually really, really into it despite appearances and would have been your fan for life until you let the song trail off and started rambling… Also not into the hunched over facing away from any audience style. But like I said, the sounds were great. Rhythmic mechanical-death-throes noises.

Doldrums at Silent Barn 1

Doldrums at Silent Barn

Up next was Doldrums (who came down from Canada) which started out as some serious post-Narwhalz/Kyle H Mabson thing. Pop song sampling interspersed with short bursts of noises, heckler-baiting, and stand-up comedy. It went on like this for the bulk of their time and was pretty entertaining. Not quite on Narwhalz’ level but still. Then at the very end the Doldrums dude decided to play a couple of songs.

Doldrums at Silent Barn 2

Doldrums encore

The drummer only decided to play after the crowd demanded one more song, and this was by far the highlight. Hard to believe they almost ended without playing this, after setting up the drums at the beginning and all. Melodic but noisy but spooky but edgy. Real nice, and it doubled my positive impression of them.

Cat with Nat Roe at Silent Barn

Cat with Nat Roe at Silent Barn

Back downstairs, this performance was going on. Nat Roe lured a couple of the silent Barn resident cats down with the promise of food and then tested their determination with escalating noise, music, and a vacuum cleaner. Honestly, I’ve got a soft spot for animals and felt kind of bad for the cats here, though they certainly weren’t harmed and were free to leave the scene at any time. I’m pretty impressed with that cat’s willingness to continue finishing its meal even when the vacuum cleaner started up – most household pets’ most-hated appliance.

Wharton Tiers Ensemble at Silent Barn

Wharton Tiers Ensemble at Silent Barn

Wharton Tiers is a long-time NYC music dude, best-known for recording some pretty legendary bands and albums. Here he plays drums along with a bassist, saxophonist, and FIVE guitarists. I don’t know if the knowledge of Mr. Tiers’ CV colored my impression, but this came across to me as a totally classic NYC-flavored experience, part Branca/Live Skull/Sonic Youth, part Television/New York Dolls.

The Sediment Club at Silent Barn 3

Sediment Club at Silent Barn

I think The Sediment Club are one of my favorite bands going right now, doing a fully old-school No Wave, but also fully vital and now-sounding thing. Some of the songs come out swinging with a double-time Contortions attack, others have a more slow-burn approach. But always the rhythm section is tight, the keyboard sounds kinda messed up, and singer/guitarist Austin plays guitar exactly like any dedicated No Waver would: whammy bar in hand, slide on finger, and treble turned up.

The Sediment Club at Silent Barn 1

The Sediment Club in contact mic madness

The Sediment Club at Silent Barn 2

The Sediment Club "No More Earth"

The last act of the night (although I lost track of what was going on downstairs) was Knife City, an all-out chiptune dance attack. Here’s a video of Knife City’s hands and his biggest fan’s feet.

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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