the silent barn

No Comments

Four Shows: Syrian Wedding Singer’s Wartime Serenades, Punk is (Sorta) Dead, and Cat Power (No, Really)

(Image via TicketWeb/ Facebook)

Vulture Fest: Cat Power, Frankie Cosmos
Saturday May 20, 7 pm at Webster Hall: $40 to $45

This one’s at the top of our list because, well, Cat Power.

Lucky for you, Vulture Festival managed to do the impossible and book a last-minute gig with the ever elusive, certifiably brilliant Chan Marshall– which is just kind of how things go with her. In case you have lost track: she hasn’t appeared on stage in five years.

It kinda goes without saying, but Marshall has had a stellar career releasing albums as Cat Power. Our sister site, Vulture, writes that “Marshall is still one of our most vital songwriters, and each time she gets onstage is a unique, unexpected, and moving experience.”

But, for a time at least, she was notorious for lashing out at the audience (often justifiably– sorry, not sorry), walking off in the middle of her set, and generally having what the music media machine love to characterize as “breakdowns.” Mind you, the term seems to be reserved especially for women artists when they get particularly emotional, or even just confrontational on stage. (I guess rock star dude bros can have “breakdowns” too, but they usually involve rehab, or perhaps a reality TV show that documents a clinical inability to remove one’s headscarf.) When musicians of the male variety have tizzies on stage we just call it “shredding” or “Kanye.”

Cat Power’s last official tour–to promote Sun, which dropped way back in 2012–was predictably bumpy. Still, if it was easy to frame the drama as a result of “instability” or as a sign of burnout, it was impossible to square her recorded music with such a narrative. Pitchfork pointed out that Sun– Cat Power’s first to “feature synthesizers, Auto-Tune, and Iggy Pop” released nearly two decades after her debut– was the work of an artist at her creative peak, and “[existed] completely and defiantly outside of any larger musical trends.” What’s more, it was Marshall’s mercurial sensibilities that made Sun so magnetic and addictive in the first place.

So why would we expect anything other than an emotional hurricane from Cat Power’s live performances? (Personally, I’m gonna stick this one in the ol’ virgin/slut file, along with all the other contradictory roles we expect women to fulfill simultaneously.)

Let’s be clear: Marshall is older and wiser now, and it’s been years since she has relied on her potent stage juice (Xanax, cigarettes, and “a minibar’s worth of Jack Daniel’s, Glenlivet and Crown Royal”) to get things going. But (while we hope to see a full set from her) we fully encourage her to let it all out– and if that means starting a fire and burning the whole stage down with her, then we trust that she knows what she’s doing.


(Flyer via Trans-Pecos/Facebook)

Weed, Bugg, RIPS, Silk Sign
Friday May 12, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $8 in advance, $10 at the door

If you’re a cynical jerk like me, then you might also be immediately suspicious of a band named Weed (in town from Vancouver, BC)–  like, if Urban Outfitters had the keys to the record label castle and were given full reign to manufacture some Frankenstein-like on-brand band, it would most certainly be called “Weed.” I can see it now, an album cover adorned with pizza slices, alien faces, ying-yangs, and of course pot leaves, all sloppy-like as if sketched by a fifth grader hopped up on Hi-Chew and Mountain-Dew Slurpees. This “band” would sound like an aughts-does-the-’90s version of Sum-41 and would play shows at the (now-defunct) rooftop restaurant at the UO “concept store” in Williamsburg. In short, total barf fest.

Thankfully, Weed are not at all as I feared them to be. Instead they embody ganja in its realest, unmarketable form– as skater fuel, spiritual inspiration, and the stuff you ingest to make you slow down and, like, wonder about the universe for a moment. Sonically, that translates as sorta shoegazey (but not in any serious sense) stoner rock with a whole lotta reverb.


(Flyer via Silent Barn/ Facebook)

Street Eaters, HVAC, Boys Online, Salty
Tuesday May 9, 8 pm at The Silent Barn: $8

You know that rumor that’s been going around for a while now? Something about how “punk is dead.” Come to think of it, seems like this has kinda always been the case. Prepare to have your mind blown, but consider the possibility that maybe this debate has been on the table since the dawn of friggin’ time. Hear me out: clearly “punk”–as a state of mind–existed long before The Velvet Underground and The Stooges and all that, even since the dawn of time. Shakespeare was kind of a punk (in fact, he was waaaay ahead of the curve when he used the term way back in 1602). And Sappho, well she was about as punk as anyone could hope to be when she was writing poetry circa 570 BC.

Given that punk (ideally, anyway) is youthful, rebellious, and against the status-quo, it’s only natural that questions about its continuing relevance are about as common as punk manifestos. It’s hard to admit, but in a lot of ways– looking around the NYC scene especially– punk, when considering its most visible forms and “successful” bands (lol whatever that means), still suffers from hyper-masculine, misogynist tendencies. Yes, still. Which, needless to say, has not only gotten old, but has been old– like, forever.

You might think that’s sort of sad, since right now especially (given the awfully depressing circumstances of our most horrifying present) we should all be going to more punk shows. It is, if you’re going to the same old shows, headlined by the same old bands. But there’s an easy fix: support the bands that are not zombie relics of another era– bands that include women, queer and trans musicians, people of color, Muslims, Jews, everyone, everyone. If you even need reason, you will be rewarded not only with a fresh-feeling scene, but excellent sounds that remind you why you started listening to punk in the first place.




(Flyer via World Music Institute)

Omar Souleyman
Thursday May 11, 7 pm at Le Poisson Rouge: $30

The war in Syria has gone on for so long that many of us here in the West have grown numb to it– which might sound callous, but it’s difficult to avoid mainly because the narrative has been dominated by chaotic battlefield reports and gruesome images of the violence inflicted by Assad on his own people, including children and civilians in general. The only way to avoid going completely insane over such horror is to keep a safe distance.

But this can’t go on forever– and slowly, we’re starting to receive dispatches that are more human: personal accounts by the people who have actually been there. Art is an especially useful way to reach people, and more importantly move them.

Enter Omar Souleyman, an unlikely rock star who “began his career as a prolific wedding singer” in Syria, “releasing nearly 500 live albums before civil war broke out” in 2011. His life, like many more, was upended in profound ways, but he continued making music even after leaving his home in Al-Jazira (a region in Syria’s northwest) for Turkey, which took on a whole new depth. Now, the West is listening to Souleyman, whose sounds and heartfelt lyrics give listeners no choice but to reckon with reality.

On To Syria, With Love, the album Omar will release on June 2, he sings: “It’s been six years I’ve been away, and I’m tired of looking for home and asking about my loved ones. My soul is wounded and it’s like having dust in my eyes. We are in exile, and our nights are long. Our homeland is our only comfort. Life caused us so much pain—our wounds are too many and every wound calls out, ‘We miss Al-Jazira.’”

Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct the release date of “To Syria, With Love.”

No Comments

Week in Shows: Punks Do Good, a Magick Music Sleepover, and Moon Child Casserole

(Flyer via Saint Vitus Bar/ Facebook)

Hank Wood & the Hammer Heads, La Misma, Mommy, Conspiracy, Shimmer, Fur Helmet
Friday May 5, 8 pm at Saint Vitus: $15

This lineup reads like a who’s-doo of Toxic State records. Arriving straight from the “institutional abyss” is Mommy. Then you have the Portuguese spittlin’ piss punks of La Misma, and scene stalwarts like Fur Helmet and Conspiracy. I mean, Saint Vitus has been called “one of the best-booked bars in New York”– even so, you’re rarely gonna find so many excellent punk/hardcore bands in one place outside of a funeral or, like, a festival (shudder).

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Three Shows You Won’t Wanna Miss This Week

(Flyer: Dealer)

Tournament, Big Huge, Barbed Wire, Dealer
Saturday April 15, 8 pm at The Glove: $10 

Grow a pair (or a pear?) and show your face at this pair of shows featuring some unfamiliar faces and others you know well. But don’t expect some double-mint/doppelgänger situation either, as these shows are mirror images of one another in a variety of ways.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Gig Alert: V-Day Hand Massages, ‘Devil Worshipping Blues’ in a Church, and More

(Flyer by Kerry Santullo via Facebook)

(Flyer by Kerry Santullo via Facebook)

Mary Lattimore, Rosali, Energy Star, DJ Nina
Tuesday February 14, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $10 in advance/ $12 at the door

If you’re anything like me, you will be spending Valentine’s Day alone. But cheer up, flying solo is not such a terrible fate– just think about all the stupid flowers you won’t have to carry around in some silly bouquet or whatever, and all that dumb perfume you don’t have to spray all over your body just to smell like the mall. Unlike everyone else, you’re gonna spend your V Day being aggressively single, which means leaving your apartment, head held high, and rocking your natural scent with pride, because you’re going to need all the pheromones you can muster.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Your Near Future in Music: A Vulture Rises + Duchess Says Get Spooky

(Flyer via Duchess Says/ Shea Stadium)

(Flyer via Duchess Says/ Shea Stadium)

Duchess Says
Friday October 14, 8 pm at Shea Stadium: $8
Saturday October 15, 8 pm at Elvis Guesthouse: $10 – $12

Duchess Says is the ’80s freak-wave/post-punk band you never knew you were dying for. Hailing from Montreal, they’re out to prove that Montreal’s really gaining on NYC right now in every way. And who can resist a band that sounds a whole like like what would happen if the Cars and the Slits had two babies, both born under the darkest of stars, then those babies mated with Halloween incarnate, then all the resulting offspring started a band. Yup. Picture that one.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Weekend Performance Picks, And One To Spice Up Your Monday

12967323_10208817299407401_8076342013165997407_o

(photo via Lorelei Ramirez / Facebook)

FRIDAY

Do Something Variety Show
At Over the Eight, 594 Union Ave, Williamsburg. 8pm. $5 suggested donation. More info here
The wacky and humorous Jo Firestone co-hosts this bizarre-sounding recurring variety show of mostly comedic madness this Friday night. There will be poetry readings, tunes, comedy, and even something “wiggly and crazy.” Also someone/thing named Crimbo, who remains a mystery to me. Throw in some cheap drinks, and I am not sure one needs anything more.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

TFW, A Reading Series That Welcomes All Genres and All The Feels

Nina (L) and Gabriela (R). (photo: Eli Lehrhoff)

Nina (L) and Gabriela (R). (photo: Eli Lehrhoff)

Ever wonder what your writer friends get up to in their spare time? Do you have some old journal entries or essays collecting dust in a drawer you’ve always secretly wanted to share with the public eye? If so, The Silent Barn could have just the thing for you. TFW is a new monthly reading series co-curated by writers Gabriela Tully Claymore, 22, and Nina Mashurova, 26, that celebrates and welcomes material untried and unexpected: journalists reading their poetry, musicians reading their essays, and so on.

Both of TFW’s curators write predominantly music-centric cultural criticism (Gabriela is an assistant editor at Stereogum and Nina has edited for Impose Mag and written for outlets like Pitchfork). They have both consistently written poetry or prose for years, but found their professional identity as writers could sometimes make it difficult to share that work.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Four Killer Shows Happening This Week

Hiroshi Hasegawa (Photo via End Tymes Fesitval/ halfnormal)

Hiroshi Hasegawa (Photo via End Tymes Fesitval/ halfnormal)

Hiroshi Hasegawa, Dromez, Dessicant, Dead Wolf
Friday, Feb. 12, 8 pm at The Silent Barn: $8
When it comes to power electronics, Japanese musician Hiroshi Hasegawa has been around the block a few thousand times– busting ears and forgetting names. Way back in 1990, he started the prolific group C.C.C.C. (Cosmic Coincidence Control Center), whose members counted a porn star and weirdos like Hasegawa amongst their ranks. Besides improvising and recording all kinds of brain-shattering noise music, the group was known for throttling their audience with aggressive stunts like throwing plastic bags full of pee out into the crowd. The guy may be pushing 60, but he’s still down as hell to make incredibly belligerent music. And hey, maybe you’ll be graced with the honor of a urine splash for old times’ sake.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

4 Good Shows to See This Week

(Flyer via Wolf Eyes)

(Flyer via Wolf Eyes)

Wolf Eyes: Trip Metal Residency
Thursday February 4 through Saturday February 6 at Union Pool: $12 – $14 
Vape with the dirty dogs and witness half of Detroit’s noise music scene take over Brooklyn this weekend. The Poppa Bear old timers of Wolf Eyes will lead their little pack of trip metal prodigy puppies– all of whom you’re guaranteed only to have heard from if you lurk around shows in Detroit occasionally, or can claim at least a few drunken years of crashing/ trolling, pissing on pool tables at co-ed parties in Ann Arbor. Or maybe you just read the internet a lot. Who knows? Let’s go with internet underground music dweeb, that way everyone’s invited. Keep Reading »

No Comments

Performance Picks: Erotic Monologues, Black Mass, Durational Dance

Missed January’s exhausting theater festivals and still crave stuff to see? This week brings variety shows (as usual), erotic monologues, a black mass, durational dance, and more.

WEDNESDAY

(photo via Circus of Dreams / Facebook)

(photo via Circus of Dreams / Facebook)

Circus of Dreams

At Bizarre Bushwick, 12 Jefferson Street, Bushwick. 9:30pm. $7-20 suggested donation. More info here

This is one of the first weird variety shows I ever went to, and I haven’t looked back since. Circus of Dreams, an unpredictable and odd monthly variety show formerly hosted by Matthew Silver and now helmed by the vivacious Lindsee Lonesome (one-half of brash music group Marital Dispute), is both a strange wonderland and warm community of weirdo artists who consistently bring their wacky ideas to life in the typically welcoming and aptly-named Bizarre Bar. Sometimes you’ll see naked people. Sometimes you’ll get cake thrown on you. Sometimes both will happen. Either way, you certainly won’t be bored. And admittedly this week I’m working the door, so come say hi.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Week in Film: Nicolas Cage, Hallucinating Cop; Soviet Synthesizer Nerd Fest

(Flyer via the Silent Barn)

(Flyer via the Silent Barn)

Audio Visuals
Sunday, Jan. 31, 3 pm to 7 pm at the Silent Barn: $5 suggested donation

Hey! It’s a combined live music/screening event at the Silent Barn in honor of the release of Kung Fu Crimewave‘s new music video for their very topical song, “Winter Squall.” The band is fluent in so-called “regressive rock,” or what sounds to us like a mix of weird-punk and psych– there’s a crush of instruments going on here but not in an annoying Arcade Fire way. But instead of having a traditional something-release show, the Kung Fu kids have brought together a bunch of local filmmakers (who have either dabbled in or are steeped in music videos) to share their work. There’s even a Q+A after the screenings, so if you’re curious about how they get stuff done, well here’s your opportunity to hear it straight from the horsies’ mouths.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Backstage at a Fest That’s ‘Experimenting With the Idea of Experimental Theater’

Last week, we gave you the heads up about Exponential Festival, a cavalcade of local productions that are “all experimental and strange in nature, but in a way that’s experimenting with the idea of experimental theater,” according to founder Theresa Buchheister. With the fest continuing through Sunday, we checked in to see how it’s going. Watch our video for a taste of the shows at The Brick, Cloud City, The Silent Barn and The Bushwick Starr.