Probably the first and last time local pop trio the Beets will find themselves with a YouTube embed on Notes on the Culture Wars. There is evidently no small amount of outrage brewing over a show staged by Less Artists More Condos and company at St. James Church a couple of Fridays ago. Brooklyn Vegan appears to be their primary source here: “Beer cans decorated pews, as did people standing and dancing on them. The lively all ages audience crowd-surfed down the center aisle where priests, funeral and wedding processions walk.” Etc. Hm. Well, when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound too good, does it? Aufer A Nobis, a blog about “Catholicism and East Coast Living,” calls news of the show “exceedingly disturbing” and encourages you to write the church’s pastor, Fr. Walter Tonelotto. American Papist takes things a step further:
This [Real Estate] video, taken the same night, makes it clear that the bands are performing in the sanctuary. And these bands are clearly not “Christian rock” (as if that would make it any more acceptable) – one of the groups involved, in fact, described the concert like this (emphasis mine):
“Any location with the the capacity to hold people and plug in a sound system automatically becomes a venue for the arts. Their latest show, held in St. James Church in the Lower East Side, featured a lineup of indie rock acts the likes of The Beets, The Tony Castles, Beach Fossils, and Total Slacker. In the impromptu fashion of a LAMC show, The Tony Castles invited Curren$y to come up and rock with the band.
The juxtaposition of throngs of partygoers in the usually stolid aisles of a catholic church is enough to steam pleats out of the pope’s robe and Creative Control was there to recount the sacrilege in all of its glory.”
Steam pleats out of the Pope’s robe? Creative Control, by the way, is Damon Dash’s own personal “online-content-production arm,” run out of the infamous DD172/Under 100 space in Tribeca. American Papist, scandalized by the “debauchery of the scene that friday night, from a dance party in the processional aisle to a beer can on the altar,” calls on its readers to make “Prayers in reparation for this outrage.”
We may as well stop smirking now and point out that all-ages shows at churches are a venerable tradition that go back to the earliest days of hardcore if not way, way before. Odds are wherever you grew up, a local religious institution hosted the odd show; in Philadelphia, where this blogger is from, the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia has been probably the most consistent place in the city for independent bookings over the last 15 years. That said, respect is a two-way street, and those who flock here to tell us, say, that we should know better than to write about shows happening in various semi-unlicensed venues in Manhattan might also think about how bragging in public about desecrating churches is probably not the best plan for long term sustainability. Manhattan is just about the most visible place in the world to do anything like this. So do it right or fully expect outrage from quarters whose very existence might be a complete surprise to you, right up until the exact moment they get you shut down. [h/t @brooklynvegan]
Our photographer, Rebecca Smeyne, was there of course: