Fri, Aug 21, 2015 - Page 11 News List

Live Wire: A taste of Death By Audio

By David Frazier  /  Contributing reporter

Three piece group, A Place to Bury Strangers, will play The Wall on Aug. 30.

Photos courtesy of Dusdin Condren

When Brooklyn noise-rock band A Place To Bury Strangers comes to The Wall on Aug. 30, Taipei will get a dose of the scuzzy, self-wired Williamsburg rock scene that became famous as a post-millennial hipster Mecca. It will be delivered by one of the scene’s most formidable bands, a group that saw the neighborhood’s rise and maybe also its fall.

A Place To Bury Strangers — a guitar, bass and drum trio that has been called “the loudest band in New York” and has toured with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nine Inch Nails and recently with Jane’s Addiction — was founded in 2003 by Oliver Ackermann, an electronics whiz who had already begun making his own effects pedals for guitars by the time he started the band. He called his workshop, opened in 2002 in a warehouse space near the Brooklyn waterfront, Death By Audio.

In 2007, a performance space opened next to Ackermann’s guitar pedal business and borrowed its name. Death By Audio — the rock club — went on to become a home for noisy, arty and experimental bands, hosting gigs by The Dirty Projectors, Thurston Moore, Zach Hill and of course Ackermann’s own band. Other venues opened in the same warehouse, packing 200-person rooms for shows for other budding underground stars like Grimes, Deafhaven, Odd Future, Mykki Blanco, AraabMuzik and many more. There were also band practice rooms and a couple of rough-around-the-edges art galleries.

Then last year, Vice Media — the organization that built its reputation glorifying this kind culture — kicked out Death By Audio and all the other clubs when it bought the building for its new corporate offices. Pitchfork offered a lengthy lamentation. The New York Observer called Vice “the newest face of The Man.” And on Death By Audio’s final night — a show last November featuring A Place To Bury Strangers, Lightning Bolt, Grooms and other bands who grew up in the space — chants of “F*** Vice” broke out near the end.

With all the buzz, I couldn’t help asking Ackermann, in an e-mail interview, about the Vice takeover. Is that the moment that the hipsters who got filthy freaking rich with an IPO bought out the other hipsters who weren’t as lucky? Or is it just unfortunate and not really that big a deal?

Ackermann’s reply was a bemused Internet-style reply: “Ha ha. Something of the sort.”

He added, “Yeah we should been more focused on making money. It was always the last thing on our minds and is still one of the furthest from my mind to this day. I just always thought rent should be as cheap as possible, and money should go to the bands that perform at the shows, not the club. Oh well, life and business are what you make of it, if you own it. Some businesses are just interested in getting as big as they can.”

On the subject of the club itself, Ackermann was far more sanguine.

“The last show at Death By Audio was an emotional and absolutely crazy time,” he wrote.

“It was the end of a place where I lived and founded 10 years ago and was inhabited by awesome artists who threw amazing underground illegal art shows, concerts and parties almost every night of the week. It was a venue for creativity and artists and freaks and a place to make it what they wanted. This is important because... you could get out of control or have a band that is out of control, and that was celebrated.”

That out-of-control feeling was what A Place To Bury Strangers tried to capture, as much as possible, on their latest album, Transfixiation, released in February.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top