Going Silent: The Last Party At Silent Barn

Going Silent: The Last Party At Silent Barn
Maks Suski

"This is totally normal," G. Lucas Crane says as he drags an amp and a box full of cassettes into his former kitchen. The experimental musician (and occasional tape manipulator for Woods) studies the giant plastic balls hanging from the ceiling, which change color as people talk, and pauses. "What's up with those orbs?" (They're by Peter Edwards.)

All of Silent Barn's sound equipment is long gone. What wasn't stolen in an ugly break-in following their mid-July shutdown by the Department of Buildings has been put into temporary storage. And the venue's one-time residents have spent the day giving away what hasn't been stored—which is a fair bit. Showpaper editor Joe Ahearn, wearing a policeman's cap, stops a girl as she walks away with a maybe-working amp. "We need to take a picture of you with that."

With about $3,000 needed to fulfill the ambitious $40,000 goal of its Kickstarter campaign, the residents of 915 Wyckoff have decided to split their Ridgewood home for a barn less silent, or at least one more zoned for use as a residence and performance space. Where? They're not quite sure yet.

"The Silent Barn has been a live-in space for its entire history," read a posted statement. "'Living in the stew' has been part of our mission as a venue, but it's also necessary financially—with rent dollars subsidizing the venue's costs, we were able to run Silent Barn with little regard for how much money we pull in through shows. ... Given the amount of support we've received through Kickstarter, we need to be certain that when we reopen Silent Barn, we will be able to keep our doors open for years to come. There is simply no way for The Silent Barn to continue at 915 Wyckoff."

Crane (who performs under the name Nonhorse) sets up his cassette decks and delay pedals on a keyboard stand among the orbs, sticks some incense between boxes, pulls a table over, and spreads out the cassette archives of the Party Lab, the microphone system that captured the venue's shows, as well as street fights, drunk babble, and lots more. The last tape pulled from the decks was a recording of police breaking up what would be the final show. A crowd of 50 or so mills about, eventually arranging themselves among the couches.

First talking into the nearest orb and watching it change color, Crane announces that his set will be a "deconsecration." When it is over, he says, the building will cease to be the Silent Barn, itself now a free-floating idea looking for a home somewhere in Manhattan's vast grid.

The delay pedals turn the archives into buzzsaw noise. The occasional echoed voice is audible within the muck. A chord structure fights its way out once in a while, before disintegrating back into a full-circle wash. A mutated brass band plays, and a recorded crowd cheers. Crane twists a knob. The claps twist into abstraction and decay very, very slowly. Then real people clap. He puts on a cassette of Black Sabbath. It's no longer Silent Barn, but it's still a party.

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