The Future Of Silent Barn: The DIY Venue's Next Home, Its "Energy," And Where Those T-Shirts Might Be

silentbarn_scarymirrors.jpg
Karen Piemons
"Scary Mirrors": A suggestion for the new Silent Barn space.
"Dog Farts," the official minutes of the committee working to find a new home for Silent Barn's February 20 meeting, outlined some of the concerns leading up to the first Silent Barn Public Meeting, a sort of combination student council meeting, shareholder information session, panel discussion on the nature of DiY, and concert. That session, which would focus on the future of the pleasantly bedraggled Ridgewood live-in show space that shut its doors for good last year, was scheduled for March 2—a little over a week away—and things weren't totally in place. Who would put the mics in the flower pots for the sound installation? Who could print the zines ("Jordan thinks maybe he can print them at work (what will they do, fire him?")? Who would convince the owners of Gottscheer Hall, the Queens bar with intimidatingly sized European beers and sedate German-expat regulars that had been booked for the event, that the Silent Barn crew wasn't some kind of "freaky devil cult"?

By Friday, though, Gottscheer Hall had been transformed: sculptures covered the heavily trodden burgundy carpet; a map of Brooklyn and Queens showing the over 100 spaces the Silent Barn crew has investigated as new homes was pinned to the wood-paneled walls; and a table laid out with dozens of handouts asking for help ("Can you help us with soldering irons?") also showed a few of the suggestions received through the online survey on the future on the space, the Barn Exam. (An entire poster was dedicated to one suggestion, "scary mirrors.")

This combination of well-meaning let's-put-on-a-show enthusiasm and open-source fretting is typical of the current state of affairs at Silent Barn—or "Silent Barn," as it was referred to, as if it was more concept than place. Indeed, as G. Lucas Crane—a wild-eyed and bushy-bearded lifelong Brooklynite who's emerged as something of an unofficial spokesman for the space—put it, since its move from 915 Wyckoff last year Silent Barn is as much "energy" as anything else.

That "energy" raised over $40,000 last year via Kickstarter, and Friday's event sprang, at least in part, from a certain nervousness on the part of the Silent Barn crew to show that they're actually doing something with the money. (In addition, Ava Luna, which had held all their previous release parties at Silent Barn, badgered the committee into organizing another for their proper debut, Ice Level). "I think the idea is to show people what we're working on, that we're not just, like, sitting around," said 23-year-old real estate search committee volunteer Kristen Berry, who explained that everyone currently affiliated with Silent Barn was "tirelessly working on different projects, trying to bring this thing into being." One of the pamphlets put it more bluntly: "WHERE THE FUCK IS MY SHIRT?"

The fundraising project had been titled "Rebuilding the Silent Barn,"; its goal was to "ensure the viability of The Silent Barn as a permanent all-ages venue for independent and experimental music, games, and art." Not everyone was happy to learn that that money wouldn't be going toward refurbishing the original venue; in a comment on a donor update in which Silent Barn announced its move, one donor, Michael McGregor, wrote:

"OK, thanks for the response. Not all that informative, or insightful. Would be great to know where you are moving, and how the funds will be used. After all, the project wasn't to relocate the silent barn. This is essentially something totally new and different."
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