On Saturday night, thieves broke into the Ridgewood performance space Silent Barn and destroyed or removed an estimated $15,000 worth of equipment. The theft occurred just one day after local police stopped a performance featuring Steve Moore of Zombi and others. In addition to looting the venue’s sound system, the burglars stole equipment from the indie video-game collective Babycastles, smashed furniture, ripped doors from hinges, and removed several thousand dollars in cash.
“They partied in there,” said Nat Roe, who had organized the Friday show. “Took paintings off the walls and punched holes through them and threw them across the room.”
Founded by members of the band Skeletons in 2004, Silent Barn has hosted shows for the past half-decade. Now, all shows scheduled for Silent Barn in the immediate future have been cancelled or relocated.
Among the equipment destroyed was Party Lab, a complex array of microphones wired throughout the building by Woods tape manipulator G. Lucas Crane. The setup was used for both sound experiments and archival recording.
“So much of my life, mind, work, and feelings are tied up in this one nexus, this one massive shining metaphor experiment,” Crane posted to Facebook. (Woods is currently on tour in Europe.) “I feel hollowed out and distended. My mind and heart are in New York, picking through abstract rubble. Holy fuck.”
The venue had recently staged the three-day Ende Tymes Festival, and there had been discussions of a plan to build a roof deck with a garden and performance space of its own.
The venue’s struggles come at a precarious time for underground music in New York. Monster Island, which had been scheduled to close following Oneida’s annual Brahloween performances in late October, was recently told to vacate its Williamsburg waterfront space a full month earlier than planned. Last week, the State Liquor Authority closed Greenpoint bar (and reliable noise spot) Coco 66 and arrested owner David Kelleran after it was discovered that the venue had been operating without a liquor license. And in June, the Department of Buildings forced the eviction of more than half of the 71 tenants at 345 Eldert Street in Bushwick, which often hosted shows.
“We’re really overwhelmed. We’re going to need help, but we’re not sure what that help is yet,” said Joe Ahearn, who has loosely overseen doings at Silent Barn for several years and used it as a base to co-edit and distribute the free bi-weekly Showpaper. The venue has posted a list of missing equipment and launched a Kickstarter campaign to help defray the costs of rebuilding; “Barn Aid” benefit shows are also in the works. Silent Barn’s three cats are currently residing with friends.