Silent Barn is located at 603 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, a hop onto the J/M line takes us into the heart of Bushwick with the venue just one one block away from the Myrtle Av stop.
Silent Barn’s past-troubles have been well documented elsewhere and appear to be behind them; stolen equipment, housing violations, etc, though we reported recently that the old space may be set for a return. With the initial help of a kickstarter campaign, the Bushwick building has attempted to legitimately go through all the red-tape involved in being a live-in performance and art space, from building regulations to getting a beer and wine license, you can’t help but root for them even if going toe-to-toe with “the man” may seem to be the antithesis of DIY to some.
Entering the venue through a gravelled courtyard and passing what doubles-up as a barber-shop, you eventually snake your way through the building into the main performance space, the eclectic multi-purpose nature of the venue offers a few sights along the way, it’s clear that the building is a boiling brew of activity which also includes a recording studio.
Given that a myriad of artforms are ubiquitous in the building, I was disappointed that the toilets featured little of the sort, clearly they should be getting to work in here. A note on the door advises one against passing solids, though I maintain that would violate gig attendance etiquette 101 in any case. My mind then drifts and considers the committee (or “chefs” as they are known) having a meeting about such a thing (agenda#1: Dudes, the toilet is blocked again…).
Aside from the quirks, you’re probably asking how the place performs in terms of a live concert experience… bands set up on the floor with no stage, flanked by a couple of PA speakers. The sound quality was a little on the muddy side when I went. Moisture from the aircon unit drips into a bucket, confusing patrons who get a little too close whilst I perch on a giant figure of 8 between band sets.
The setup and general vibe favours the goofballs and odd acts like Son of Salami (who tells us he isn’t having a good time, then proceeds to create a song on the spot and records it to cassette tape before rejecting his creation and smashing it on the floor), moreso than a rock band, in my opinion. However, clearly their calendar offers something of everything.
In a city of rigorous regulation and gentrification, maybe the Silent Barn model has to work for the sake of us all, time will ultimately tell. See our list of upcoming shows here.