Old Time Relijun + Aids Wolf at Silent Barn

Post Author: , Nate Dorr

On Halloween I dressed up as a music journalist. No one got it, luckily, but this is the paragraph I wrote to stay in character (for better or worse):

It’s always amusing to consider the ceaseless homage paid to New York’s cultural past. Every issue of New York manages to drum up another obscenely trying angle on Andy Warhol and his partied-out art empire, salivating at the bit for a ticket to 1977. Likewise, you could devote the wing of a library to words wasted on CBGB’s closing. It’s comforting, in a way, to obsess in the past-perfect tense. And that’s fine by us. We’re happy we still get armmotion capabilities (occasionally) when we hit Silent Barn. No need to elaborate on how it’s the sort of place where the greatest bands of our generation all tend to trundle through on their national tours, or how New York’s local music, whose adherents and leaders make up the crowds of these shows on any given night, is currently undergoing a constant renaissance in innovation.

Anyway, two obvious examples of such locals, High Places and Aa, got spooky and turned Silent Barn into a grassy pasture on Roosevelt Island! (See attached photo.)

Old Time Relijun

Old Time Relijun wasn’t into the whole “reuse old photos because you missed the opening act thing,” even though we totally could get away with it, and stormed the barn with their Mississippi-growl (by way of Olympia) dance punk. We’ve seen them so many times that it’s hard to separate their music from the viral dancing that tends to bunch up in the front like a snake pit. Tonight we had the pleasure of dealing not with sweaty humans but giant Shakes, drunk unicorns and a few gallons of stage blood.

They’ve been around for 13 years (a fact Arrington de Dionyso pointed out), and as others have noted, their cause has never managed to amass a huge following. You’d have expected them to get cherry picked to lead any number of the dance/punk revival movements of the past decade. Anyway, none of this was particularly apparent on Wednesday; they single-handedly elevated the room temperature another five or ten degrees (someday I will crack an egg on the DJ table and see what happens), and they stirred their devotees into that liminal state between dancing and moshing that can only come from a band that started in Washington state in the nineties.

Aids Wolf

Aids Wolf, wow. Your recorded material is vivid post-punk, ecstatic in its dissonance, if I might be so bold. Live… my friend summed it succinctly, muttering next to me through his makeshift ear plugs, “you know a band is loud if you can’t hear the drums.” Sonic Youth circa 1985 would probably be proud. What do you guys do during practice? Lithium? Big Bear came to mind as a possible runner up in your self-imposed contest to be the loudest, bluntest noise band that manages to seem somewhat mathy. It must be those brash arpeggios that occasionally spatter like so many drops of blood across your terrifying wall of sound. But where Big Bear is like a math band that gets noisy, your noise doesn’t leave much space for articulation. And that’s something to be proud of, particularly in a critical landscape that currently seems obsessed with the hyper articulate, the careful and the easily contained. Maybe a new form will break free from your sonic stranglehold, but if it remains the cruel, incalculable mass it was on Wednesday, we’ll still “dance”.