The internet never ceases to amaze us. And after failing to remember who or what broke the internet last, we decided it doesn’t matter at all because it’s been shattered into a million pieces once again. And it was the birth of the Market Hotel Pillar Twitter account (@MarketPillar) — which happened sometime after the DIY venue reopened for what was, by all accounts, a spectacular Sleater-Kinney show — that signaled the internet’s passing.
Everyone seemed to be ecstatic that Todd P’s long-shuttered DIY venue had reopened (if only briefly before they’ve completely made it through the renovation process) and, c’mon, Sleater-Kinney. Only issue was, Market Hotel faced a number of affronts by critics who asserted that some dang “pillars” and a diminutive stage were in the way of what would surely have been a better show had the band had access to more space for “hair-whipping’’– as the Village Voice imagined.
And thus the pillar was born.
I am now famous. https://t.co/zZf1SFZQC7
— Market Hotel Pillar (@MarketPillar) December 18, 2015
“It’s comforting to know that the musicians have the same sight-line woes as the patrons at Market Hotel” You can see me perfectly, no woes.
— Market Hotel Pillar (@MarketPillar) December 18, 2015
Brooklyn Vegan, for one, made no mention of the pillar in their review of the show, Sleater-Kinney’s last of 2015, and supported what the existence of @MarketPillar implies:
“the place was packed (but not uncomfortably so).”
In other words, that pillar (no matter how famous they think they are) doesn’t make a bit of difference. Think of the pillar as a really tall rock n’ roll music fan standing in your way, except that the rock n’ roll musicians on stage are well aware there’s a giant pillar they should perhaps avoid hiding behind.
@MarketPillar took issue with Vulture‘s description of the show.
“Janet Weiss is in a precarious position. Her drum set is wedged in the corner of New York’s weirdest room for playing music. […] Butt up against the stage, directly in front of rock’s best working drummer, stands a thick white pillar, which means she can’t see the sound guy standing 30 feet back.”
Also, I’m not against the stage, I’m about 5 feet back. — Market Hotel Pillar (@MarketPillar) December 18, 2015
It seemed that the good people at Market Hotel tended to agree.
Another pillar hater penned a piece for the New York Times, implying that not just one, but multiple pillars were causing trubz. The reviewer recounted recent shows by Sleater-Kinney, recalling that the band “played a subsequently smaller stage every night until it reached the recently revamped Market Hotel in Bushwick,” where they encountered:
“Capacity: approximately 300, where attendees were packed shoulder to shoulder, crammed into window frames and wrapped around pillars.”
Judging by this photos though, it doesn’t appear that attendees are literally wrapped around the @MarketPillar pillar. At best, it seems they might find it comfortable to lean up against said pillar. Wrapping your limbs around it just doesn’t seem like it would be all that comfortable, am I right rock n’ roll music fans?
Still, The Times piece portrayed the show as one that required Sleater-Kinney to perform a daring feat of ingenuity by playing “in a space reminiscent of the tiny, unpolished spots the group played in its early days.” Sounds scary. But quoting the band’s drummer Janet Weiss:
“In a way, it was interesting to be in that position again, to be on stage and thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be deaf after this show.’ It definitely became very scrappy and energetic,” Ms. Weiss said. […] “I remember those days and I feel like we became a good band in venues like that, but I don’t have to play those venues to prove that we are still true to the music and still raw. I still feel that raw, even in a bigger place. People could just get closer. It was for the hard-core fans.”
A diplomatic answer indeed. Seems like Weiss was trying to flatter those big, fancy venues that welcome Sleater-Kinney, indisputably one of the great rock bands of our generation (I know, I sound like an eppy of Girls right now), while staying true to her roots playing in scummy little bars and modest lil venues where the only thing that matters is the music– not a fancy sound system, nor unnatural acoustic accoutrements, not even comfort for the fans.
But the Market Hotel is not the only place with a pillar problem. In fact, pillars are present at other beloved venues around town too– for one, the pillar at Palisades (which stands a good distance from the stage, closer to the bathrooms actually) could have a Palisades Pillar Twitter account of its own if it really wanted. (Maybe the @MarketPillar knows the dude?) At least one fan (and a musician, no less) agreed that, when it comes to pillars, psssshhhhh…
The Village Voice made no mention of said pillar, however they were insistent that the stage was less than impressive.
“While it was great to have Market Hotel open after its own long hiatus, there were some limitations to what the space could provide a band like Sleater-Kinney, who are accustomed to taking over much larger spaces. The minuscule stage could not accommodate the riser that drummer Janet Weiss has played on of late, one that allows the audience to get the full scope of her jaw-dropping kit-pummeling. Watching Weiss wreck shop is an essential part of Sleater-Kinney fandom, so it was unfortunate that most vantage points obscured her prowess. Likewise, lead guitarist Carrie Brownstein reported that she had less room for her exuberantly choreographed rock star maneuvering – the leaps, hair-whipping, and hip-shaking that entertain during her signature numbers, like, appropriately enough, ‘Entertain.'”
While some critics took issue with what are the usual trappings of a DIY venue, hence the low ticket prices, cheap beer, and oh, I dunno, sense that you’re part of a real rock show and not being taken for all you’ve got at some slick, sanitized venue fit for sparkly-pop stage productions, all of which are there to (a) distract you from how bad the music is (if the band warrants such coverage) and (b) make lots and lots and lots of money. Well, we say onward with the good fight Market Hotel pillar.
Meanwhile, Back Pillar now wants its own twitter handle, jealous of my fame. — Market Hotel Pillar (@MarketPillar) December 18, 2015
Update: Pictured at top is back pillar, not front pillar as @MarketPillar has informed us