2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Megan Manowitz)
by Steven Spoerl
Photograph by Stephanie Griffin
On my first full day in Brooklyn, I woke up and drank tea on the roof of DBTS with Greg Rutkin. We talked about life, what I wanted to achieve while I was in the city, DBTS, nearby places worth frequenting, and the plan for the day. A few hours later, we hopped on the M train to get to SoHo to pick up a pair of glasses. As soon as we hit our stop, we ran into Silent Barn resident Megan Manowitz. She was the first person I met outside of DBTS and greeted me warmly, taking interest in how I wound up in the city. She was also the first person to ask if I was “Heartbreaking Bravery Steven”, which wound up being a weirdly memorable experience. I would soon come to find that Manowitz admirably put in a tireless amount of work at Silent Barn, whether booking shows, running the booth, bartending, cleaning the space, promoting, or doing any number of tasks that most people would find utterly thankless.
Over the course of my time in the city, we’d run into each other every now and then, occasionally striking up conversations about little things that were happening in our lives. Then, in late September, tragedy struck: Silent Barn caught fire, displacing its residents and throwing kinks into several of the venue’s planned shows. Watching everyone come together to fight to rebuild and preserve that space was nothing short of inspiring. Here, Manowitz takes us through the struggles surrounding that time of her life and the show a lot of people worked especially hard to make happen: Krill’s farewell. It was a show that wound up being far more than a simple goodbye. Read about those events below and remember to always fight for the things that matter.
Self-Hate Will Be the Death of Youth Culture but Thankfully Krill Existed and Now I Love Myself and All My Friends
I’m writing this while sitting in one of the empty apartments above Silent Barn. The Silent Barn residency is where I call home, and Silent Barn where my allegiances lie, and ever since the fire back in late September when the other residents and I were displaced I’ve been hopping around a few different spots in Brooklyn. Lately I’ve been feeling so homesick that I’ve gotten into the habit of dragging this shitty Ikea desk that was left behind into the middle of my apartment and doing work there.
It’s quite the spectacle- the apartment is covered in drywall dust and there’s not a single surface I can touch without getting coated in white powder. The only contents of the apartment other than me, this desk, and a folding chair are big, black contractor bags filled with ceiling, along with a scaffolding and some ladders. The fact that I’m choosing to do work up here says a lot about my recent head space and my anxious desire to get back home.
It feels like this shit is never going to get finished and that my self-appointed role of Silent Barn Ghost who wanders amongst the rubble will become a permanent one, but I know deep down that it’s getting better, that it’s so much better than it initially was. The day after the fire we had a collective meeting that was initially supposed to be about the Silent Barn becoming a non-profit but ended up being about the incident and how to rebuild, and I very vividly remember feeling like it was the end of the world.
I wasn’t able to sleep the night before and I remember sitting in the yard surrounded by people who care so deeply about the space and not even being able to talk, only being able to cry and smoke cigarettes and look down and do nothing. I didn’t change my clothes for six days. Looking back I was very much preserving my trauma, truly becoming a ghost of the fire- returning back to the spot where it happened day after day, same clothes, crying, nothing changing. I couldn’t interact with the real world, I couldn’t talk, I could only be present as some sort of effigy of myself to serve as proof of what had happened.
So we had this meeting to talk about what was next, what the fire meant for the immediate future of Silent Barn. At that point I hadn’t even thought about Silent Barn closing temporarily, not to mention permanently. It was suggested that we move all shows that were scheduled in the upcoming weeks. It felt insensitive to talk about shows when there were people who had just lost all of their belongings, but the lack of shows threatened the space being able to reopen. I remember hearing someone say, “but it’s Rocktober…” Rocktober – the month where Silent Barn does well financially due to unofficial CMJ shows and a slew of other events that are sure to be “bangers.” I quickly ran through what events I was in the process of booking for the month of October and remembered the Krill show.
The fucking Krill show.
I turned to Stephanie, my close friend and a Silent Barn collective member, and all I said was “the Krill show” and we both started crying, I’m not even joking. This shit was so dramatic. We were all so broken down and every small thing felt like such a huge loss. And it was a huge loss- these shows, this space, it’s where all of our energy lies. We put work and time and emotion into this space and these events and the Krill show was a huge one- Liz, Stephanie, and I had been planning it for the past month ever since Jonah sent me a cryptic Facebook message about a “super secret Krill show.” Having the last Krill show at Silent Barn felt like this sort of badge of honor.
Stephanie made sure to tell everyone within earshot that we had to be open by the day of the Krill show and I practically barked whenever anyone asked me whether or not I knew if the show would be able to happen. We were spending our days ripping out the ceiling of the main space and the estimated finish date changed every other day. Aaron and Jonah were there a lot. They both took me to a storage space with my belongings the initial days after the fire, at a point where I was too much in shock to hold a conversation.
Jonah helped me scoop up mysterious animal shit found on my roof during what I’m certain was a hailstorm, and Aaron spent an entire day removing screws from the ceiling of the main space wearing goggles that were impossible to see out of, making the act of standing on top of a 12 foot ladder while holding a power drill much more daunting. Their presence made it so much more pressing to have this show at the Silent Barn, for the sole purpose of us having a night to celebrate what we all have a stake in and what we have built together. Krill is a part of this space, they literally helped us build it.
A few days after the fire I had a conversation with a person who has a studio space at Silent Barn about how this place functions as its own kind of temple, it’s our sanctuary and it’s where our spirits reside and it’s where we recharge and get our energy from and it’s true, it’s so true. This shit is spiritual, it’s all so much more than just a concert. Shows like the Krill show are healing because they serve as a reminder of what we’ve all created and are continuously creating and what we are all in together. And the show happened, and that’s what it was, a ceremony of rebirth and love and affection and really celebrating what we all have stock in.
This space, this community of people. Frankie Cosmos played and Greta was there the day after the fire with donuts and packing tape. Big Ups played and Joe was there both the night of the fire and the day after, packing my belongings into his car and taking them to a storage space. There’s no way this night couldn’t be charged with the energy of what had happened and the work that was put in to building it back up again, and it was palpable. I was rolling in it. I hope everyone there could feel it.
I love Silent Barn. I love Krill. I love my friends and I love the community we’ve created here. No one can ever say that the scene is over or DIY is dead or whatever people say on their shitty websites because I saw it and I’m living in it, and I’m grateful every day for it. 2015 kicked the shit out of me and everyone I know but I left with the strong sense that we’re in this together and that has made it all worth it. That’s what the Krill show was about. Krill is forever.