The term “organized chaos” is how I’d best describe the show I witnessed at Pioneer Works Friday evening. While I’ve only set foot inside this space less than 10 times, I’ve seen some of my favorite shows here, and this one was no different.
First on the bill was electronic, improvisational noise-band, Marijuana Deathsquads. I had my mind blown years ago by this group, and the ever-changing lineup is one of the multiple appeals. Mainstays Ryan Olson and Isaac Gale held down their duties on production and vocals respectively, but surrounding them was a cast of characters I haven’t seen since I shuffled around the grounds of Eaux Claires festival last summer. Trever Hagen held down trumpet duties, FOUR drummers stretched out onstage, CJ Camerieri from yMusic appeared on French horn, Velvet Negroni added vocals and production, and so on. There were so many people involved in crafting the sounds and textures that the stage wasn’t large enough to accommodate them. There’s so much going on – both physically and sonically that this music is best enjoyed with eyes closed, or if you’re extremely high. The sounds blend into one another seamlessly, and while I don’t understand everything Isaac is singing, the vocals add another layer of texture to the music that I can feel.
Second up was Spank Rock. I sadly missed his performance at the festival, but goodness gracious, I finally understood why his set was one of the most buzzed about afterward. He and DJ Delish lit that whole place up – moving the crowd to dance like I haven’t seen since the great house parties of the 90’s in between ample bursts of sparkly firework displays onstage. Alternating between rapping and singing, Spank Rock, born Naeem Juwon, had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand from the first song. Giving ample space to DJ Delish to step out from behind the table to break down some dance moves as well, the night moved at a frenetic pace that I did not want to end.
Drawing things to a close, Minneapolis based Polica stepped onstage to run through a bevy of their selections from previous albums as well as a few new ones. On vocals Channy Leaneagh always delivers, amplifying the passion and intensity over the live instrumentation from bassist Chris Bierden, and dual drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson. Over in the corner, Ryan Olson could also be spotted adding additional production to the live show.
Afterward both crowd and performers spilled out into the courtyard, settling in by the roaring fires, happily conversing, grabbing a bite to eat or enjoying a drink or two. The space that Pioneer Works has provided for artists to come and share their work with a crowd who is truly interested in listening and receiving is such a welcomed addition to the NY music scene. After the smaller DIY venues were ushered out by rising rents and big businesses, I hope Pioneer Works can remain a welcoming space for experimentation and like-minded folks to enjoy a night as epic as this one was.
Article: Lesley Keller