Riding with punk rockers Gnarcissists between two boroughs and two shows was a blissful punch to the head & a wild time.
With death comes life. Though it was the end of beloved DIY venue/community center Silent Barn in Brooklyn, it was also the birth of Coney Island Baby in the Lower East Side. Either way, a funeral or birthday, everyone was ready to party.
My night started with a brisk run through the rain. It was an early show and if you follow me at all then you know those aren’t my expertise. As I rushed from First Ave at an amazingly early 8:30 p.m. to Avenue A, the sky opened with a refreshing spring shower.
A little wet and out of breath, I got to Coney Island Baby after Gnarcissists started. The place still had that new venue smell, but the grungy five-piece punk band had already seemed to make the walls bleed. Walking into frontman Matti Orr aggressively choke-holding the mic stand while howling away and bassist Nazar Khamis swinging his bass around like an axe murderer, you would’ve never known it was the place’s first weekend open. The hard punch of Gnarcissists’ punk rock throb made the shiny new paint start to peel and the beer smell more pungent.
Next up was Flesh Hotel, a duo comprised of members from the NYC punk group Beechwood. They blossomed out of the original NYC punk crowd that made the L.E.S. a punk haven. The front of the crowd was lined with the coolest people in the building—everyone had either a worn out leather biker jacket on, colorfully dyed hair or tattoos covering every inch.
BOYTOY was next, who the previous night played their record release show at Secret Project Robot. The quartet has the most explosive chemistry not only with each other but also with the audience. Frontwoman Saara Untracht Oakner flashed her wily smile at the crowd while she shouted about what a rip off NYC rent is before playing “NY Rip Off.”
The show wrapped up an hour before midnight with The Advertisers—a brand new band from Casey Hopkins. If I didn’t already know, I would’ve never guessed this was their debut appearance. There is no other way to describe them other than they fucking shred. Leading lady Acacia Fusco had a voice deep and raspy, yet light and smooth that made me want to pull an Ursula on her and steal her voice.
It would’ve been fun to hang around and see where the night took this newest punk venue, but Gnarcissists had to be at Silent Barn by midnight. Six of us piled into a small four-door car and blasted Nirvana while we crossed into a new borough and a new realm.
After six years of providing Brooklyn with a safe space for music and community events, Silent Barn couldn’t keep up with the costs of it all and had to close their doors. Luckily for the venue’s fans, they had one last weekend to let punks and hipsters roam wildly in their natural habitat.
Unlike Coney Island Baby, Silent Barn already had its weathered look and smell. Though the show was indoors, the floor was covered in mud (and who knows what else) and the smell of sweat and booze oozed from every nook and cranny. If you didn’t leave (like myself) with mud stained pants and shoes and a bruised ass, then were you even actually there?
I don’t know if it was because it was already midnight and people were already tipsy, because it was the last night of Silent Barn or because Gnarcissists injected everyone with their chaotic energy, but the show was instantly insane. Gnarcissists started at midnight. By their first song, I was already emptying out my pockets, stashing my stuff on the stage, putting down my beer and leaping into the crowd.
I have awful timing—apparently, I missed frontman Orr trying to pee on stage. And eventually, guitarist Eric Carney dove into the audience and landed directly on an unsuspecting me. It was complete chaos. I hit the floor multiple times and got covered in the mystery muck that everyone was slipping on and it was pure bliss.
Gnarcissists wrapped up their set with a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which, of course, fired up the audience even more and was a perfect transition into Straw Pipes.
Focused more on melody than rage, Straw Pipes was a 180 from Gnarcissists. However, even though they weren’t as fast or angsty, the audience fell in love. Personally, I only caught a couple songs from these guys. I needed some fresh air after moshing and crowd surfing any shred of dignity I had left away to Gnarcissists. But out of the couple songs I heard their melody was tight and uplifting and I instantly wished I had caught more.
The show was wrapped up by the NYC rock ‘n’ roll quartet, Native Sun. These beautiful boys take the stage like a pride of angry lions ready to pounce. People really started to lose their shit through their set. The roof was quite literally being torn down. Probably not the safest way to crowd surf, but people were being thrown into the air grabbing anything hanging from the ceiling. Gnarcissists bassist Khamis actually ended up hanging upside-down like a crazed monkey from the light fixture. We all definitely could’ve been shocked, but we already had so much electricity running through us we probably wouldn’t have even noticed. The party would’ve continued with all of us moshing away in the firey pits of hell for eternity anyways.
After the bands were done, we stood in the yard while the rain tried in vain to wash away all our sins.
Before I decided to call it quits around 4 a.m. I caught the Gnarcissists boys arguing over whether that was their best show. I mean, I left with several bruises, was covered completely in beer and sweat and had my heart pumped with excitement. I’d say that’s a sign of a damn good punk show and one hell of a way to see a staple DIY venue off.