DIY Arts Enclave In Greenpoint Throws "Javastock"By Rebecca Smeyne
There is a collection of artist studios and communal apartments near the end of Java street in Greenpoint that's been throwing awesome under-the-radar shows for years. Unfortunately, they're all about to be evicted due to planned waterfront developments. Sto, the co-founder of Cinders Gallery and an artist who has been working out of the space for the past year, told me that this arts enclave started when a group of RISD grads moved in around 1996, and estimates the imminent displacement count at around 45 people—another rough hit for the Brooklyn DIY scene (his own gallery in Williamsburg closed due to rising rents). The good news—the only good news—is that they've been throwing killer parties in the remaining days. I attended one event there last weekend with Pictureplane, Dope Body, Mykki Blanco, DJ Dog Dick, and Shams, and on Friday, returned for more, this one called "Javastock." The bill was huge, and the hand-written cardboard schedule posted on the wall, less than accurate, but whatever, schedules are for squares.
On the way in, I saw this—a good omen.
Immediately, I stumbled upon Sto's studio—mind already blown before seeing a single band.
The first band I caught was Johnny Corndawg, a humorous honky-tonk outfit from Nashville which, by that description, probably sounds horrible and annoying, but in reality, they are impossible to hate. They rock custom leather "Almond Brothers" belts and "Dad Country" guitar straps and perform with big smiles and good vibes. It's all quite endearing.
Then Sto's band, the excellently named Stolen Temple Pileup, a one-man shopping-cart-based noise project, played a brief but intriguing set. After this I climbed up a ladder (which I later watched someone drunkenly fall down) up to the enormous rooftop to enjoy the fresh air and soon-to-be-million-dollar view, where I ran into Pictureplane and jewelry designer Ms. Fitz.
Back downstairs, I found a performance art duo, N Jetty M, setting up. When someone puts his head in a pot on the ground and drags it across the floor as one of his "instruments," I think it's safe to classify that as "experimental."
When this ended, people shuffled toward a back room for the next attraction. Even when his unbridled, high-heeled enthusiasm in one-person mosh pits has resulted in painful bruises on my person (typically at Golden Triangle or K-Holes shows), I've long admired the colorful aesthetic and energy of everything artist Raul de Nieves creates, from his costumes and his body-writhing to his sculptures and his bands (seriously I have an unbelievable number of photos of this guy). Lately he's been collaborating with Cody Critcheloe's SSION—a match made in heaven if there ever was one. Raul's latest project HARIBO (yes, like the gummy bears) is technically a band in that there's guitar, rhythm, vocals, and song structures, but, as with most of what he does, there's a strong visual and performance element. This evening's set included projections, color gel sheets hanging from the ceiling (which he later ripped down and rolled around in), beach balls, vintage magazine pages, and a chair which he smashed (he's big on chaos and destruction). Also, toward the end, he hanged himself (non-fatally, of course).
Over in the main room, Guardian Alien, who signed to Thrill Jockey last month, had just started. Between her ferocious guttural howling, intense energy, and physical flexibility, vocalist Alexandra Drewchin seems, at times, fantastically possessed. Add the dizzying drumming of the widely-lauded Greg Fox, Turner Williams on a sort of electronic zither, plus several other players, and you get a sound that's complex, unique, heavy, experimental, and psychedelic.
On the way home, there was yet another treat—the Johnny Corndawg van out front. It just made me love them even more.
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