On July 17, during a routine Wednesday night at the East Williamsburg performing arts space known as Big Snow Buffalo Lodge, co-manager Yoni David was shot, a bystander in a dispute unrelated to the venue. The bullet travelled through his left arm and into his torso, leaving his limb close to unusable. He spent six days in Bellevue Hospital, and was released one day short of his 24th birthday.
“Pretty much anything you can imagine in somebody’s arm is fucked up in my arm,” he says. “I have nerve damage. I have muscle damage. I have tendon damage. I have a huge excess of scar tissue built up in my arm that tendons are stuck on.” Now, instead of running the venue that he and his co-managers–Jeremy Aquilino, RJ Gordon, and Daniel Arnes–called home, he’s spending at least three days a week in physical therapy, gaining back the motor skills he lost after being struck by a stray bullet. Big Snow closed that day in July.
“The instant I cleaned up my best friend’s blood off the floor I had made the decision to close,” Arnes told us in our report of the initial shooting in July. After that day, the partners in the project scattered across the city to pick up the pieces of their shattered boho existences. This involved a large amount of money to pay off outstanding bills, to move out gear, and to resolve the lease.
To completely close this chapter on Big Snow, two benefit and farewell shows, featuring “the ultimate pow-wow of pals,” as Yoni puts it, goes down this week. The first is December 3 at Silent Barn, featuring Twin Sister, Leapling, Ava Luna, Celestial Shore, Zula, and Empress Of DJing. Two days later, December 5, Shea Stadium hosts Porches, Krill, Baked, LVL UP, Lost Boy, Bueno, and Peter Fonda DJing.
Two of those bands, Leapling and Baked, will feature Yoni on drums once more. This is after doctors told him he may never play or it would be at least a year before he would hit the skins.
“I go to physical therapy and it’s like, ‘Let’s fucking do this! Let’s make this work.’ Then I started playing drums and I got really motivated. Now the drumming is just a part of my recovery. The playing actually really helps. It’s a great exercise for my hand. It’s just now starting to sound good again.”
Apart from being friends with the bands hitting the stages, Yoni found common ground with Gabe D’Amico, the bassist in Twin Sister, who had been in a car crash about a year ago and suffered a similar injury to Yoni’s. The two offer a lot of support to one another.
“We were really in touch a lot about our recovery,” says Yoni. “There’s a lot of jargon and lingo in this kind of situation that you would never think about or understand unless it pertained to you. All of a sudden I know all this stuff about the inner workings of the human hand that I never would have known. Gabe and I could talk about it.”
Despite the dissolution of Big Snow, Yoni and the rest of the crew found their way to new ventures already. He and Aquilino are now on the sound crew at the Bowery Ballroom, running monitors and doing stagehand work. Gordon has been touring with Titus Andronicus, running sound and eventually opening with his group Lost Boy. Arnes has been producing sound on a new award-winning web series. Still, there are tinges of nostalgia already shining through the closure of Big Snow.
“I’m trying to treat this like a nice celebratory farewell to Big Snow,” Yoni says. “It’s not the best situation, of course, and I’m definitely not thrilled about the way things happened. At the same time, now it’s a way to get some closure on a situation while also saying we’re still around, we’re still here to do our thing. I don’t think any of us wanted to disappear, but we definitely needed some time to recollect ourselves.”