Red Sox vs. Yankees. Clam chowder vs. pizza. Bad accent vs. bad accent. Boston will go head to head with New York whenever it gets the chance, yet for all that rivalry, there’s a steady stream of love between the two cities for what really matters. Silent Barn, the music mecca hiding out on an unassuming street in Bushwick, is one of them. The all-ages venue frequently hosts Boston bands as if they are their own family, helping them rise through a heartfelt, supportive, accepting scene, but now they need help from us in return.
On September 25th, the DIY venue caught fire upstairs, displacing 14 people that lived there and seeing extensive water damage throughout. As a result, the space rescheduled three weeks’ worth of shows with the potential to cancel more if they can’t patch it back to a functional state before then. Moving those shows to other spaces takes a swift stab at their bank account, even though they have already raised $16,000 in donations and insurance is on their side.
That’s where our city comes in. Sonam of Fast Apple booking quickly threw together the Silent Barn-ifit, a benefit show at the Middle East Upstairs with Disipline, Ursula, Blood Club, and Long Gone. All proceeds go directly to Silent Barn.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited about a venue or welcome to be there like the Silent Barn,” says Sonam. “They’re a part of one of these amazing communities. They and their constituents built up a safe environment inside an all-ages space open to all kinds of bands and acts. They don’t even consciously strive to make the place inclusive; it just is. That’s so special.”
The bands playing Silent Barn-ifit have all benefited from the venue at one point or another. Each member of Disipline has played there in various incarnations over the years. Long Gone is new to the scene, representing the type of fresh act Silent Barn would immediately welcome on board without a scroll of impressive show experience to make the bill. Then Liana Hell Lean, the singer of Blood Club, is under the age of 18. Playing out in Boston can be difficult because of age restrictions, but Silent Barn opens its doors for her repeatedly, giving her the chance to deliver her music to interested ears.
Even Sonam’s own band, Ursula, has seen the positive effects of the venue firsthand. “The sound there is really good, which is something I think gets left to the wayside pretty often,” Sonam explains. “They always have someone doing the sound who is extremely talented and communicative. When we played there, I was surprised at how they went out of their way to make sure we felt comfortable with it. That’s the attitude of everyone there. It’s about accessibility and availability, no matter what level you’re at with music or booking or your message. Silent Barn pays everybody fairly who works there as well. It’s a culture of caring and learning. We want to keep that going.”
Everyone Sonam asked to play wanted to hop on the bill immediately, from Speedy Ortiz to Pile to Malportado Kids, but couldn’t for one reason or another. “It really speaks to the importance of the venue when every band is saying how much it means to them,” she says. “The bill created itself in an hour, really. In a matter of time, bands were emailing asking if they could play, but unfortunately by then the bill was full.”
Silent Barn’s importance runs deeper than its connection to those bands. It’s a dream venue that went from temporary to permanent out of persistence and, above all else, love. You should be able to go to a show without any reservations about your age, race, gender, sexuality, disability, or otherwise. It provides one of the safest spaces around while booking talent representative of every human out there. Silent Barn has done so much for the Boston music scene. The least we can do to thank them is to help them out in return.
“This should be a gathering of the people who love the Silent Barn,” Sonam says of the benefit show. “Maybe it will encourage people to make places like this in Boston and the community to start a spot inspired by another community hundreds of miles away. We want a space like that for everybody here. That’s always been my goal for the Boston music scene, and they’re the ones to prove it’s possible.”
SILENT BARN-IFIT W/ DISIPLINE + URSULA + BLOOD CLUB + LONG GONE. WED 10.7. MIDDLE EAST UPSTAIRS, 472 MASS. AVE., CAMBRIDGE. 9PM/ALL AGES/$10. MIDEASTOFFERS.COM.