Last Friday there was a bizarre event that required my attendance. Carpark Records, made famous by acts such as Beach House, Cloud Nothings, Dan Deacon and Speedy Ortiz, invited me to celebrate its 16th anniversary. Their sweet sixteen-birthday party was held at the hip Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, right by the Williamsburg Bridge. Part of the celebrations included a line up of their loyal acts. Musicians set to perform were: Lexie Mountain Boys, Greg Davis, Greys, Chandos, Ear Pwr, Safety Scissors, Adventure, Jimmy Whispers, and DJs Young Magic & Montag. What was anticipated to be a fun birthday bash ended up being one of the weirdest concerts I have ever witnessed.
Arriving a little over 6PM, I walked into the venue eagerly ready to warm up a bit. Luckily, this was to be the last weekends where the arctic cold was to linger in the city! As I entered the space, I was surprised to see that there was hardly anyone there. Anxiously looking for some representatives from Carpark, I meandered over to a table near the stage door entrance. On it were free t-shirts and basketball key chains with the Carpark insignia for guests to collect. “Please limit one per person,” said the sharpie written sign above the table of swag. I doubt many people obeyed that law throughout the night, especially as the alcohol began to flow. Snagging a shirt and keychain I walked over to the bar, which thankfully, was fully stocked. While ordering a beer, I asked the bartender if he knew anything about the Carpark show that evening. He looked at me blankly and replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” This caused a raised eyebrow from me as I began to sip my beer.
Probably the most enjoyable part of the night was the conversation that I started with a Frenchman who sat next to me at the bar. He was visiting the United States for the first time. NYC was the first lag of his journey for a few days. The following day he was to head out west to experience the other side of America in California. We chatted about traveling and the like as I noticed a tattooed lady wander in and sit herself down at a podium near the stage door entrance. Saying goodbye to the Frenchman I walked over the tattooed woman and asked if my name was added to the guest list. She, like the bartender, looked at me blankly with an added smile and said, “Oh, I don’t actually have a guest list, but if you tell me your name I can add you.” So that means, anyone could have gotten in for free that night? Raising my eyebrows once more, I gave her my name and got a black stamp on my left hand and entered the entertainment area.
Baby’s All Right has a 1950s feel with a Brooklyn attitude. When guests enter the main dining area, the rainbow glass is a welcoming invitation to dine and to enjoy some music. On the right wall hang various zodiac art pieces, which offer a strange atmosphere to it all. Some of the booths in the next room are fitted with wooden alligator sculptures with bright light bulbs emitting from their mouths. To escape the peculiar, just enter the stage area for the trippy side of things. With an ancient cigarette vending machine near the door and bar, the entertainment section is an odd one. The concert area connects to another bar, fully stocked, which opens up to an empty floor. All the wall space is covered by Brady Bunch style wallpaper, peeling at the corners, leading to the stage. The stage is small with a mosaic of strobe lights constantly flashing behind. Even when performers are not doing their thing, the strobe lights flicker annoyingly bright.
A droning DJ set welcomed us first. Sadly, both DJs had at maximum a five-person audience for both of their sets. Although for the first DJ, two female fans were confidently swaying back and forth to the monotonous tunes as he jammed on. As for the second DJ, he had the most attendees only seconds before his set ended. Unfortunately, many of the guests, myself included, thought the next show would start with an announcement, which never came. So, once we entered to watch DJ set two, he was about done. Yikes, I felt bad for the guy.
As the crowd lingered, the next group came onstage. Ear Pwr consists of a tiny blonde chick with sunglasses, Sarah, and a tall, skinny dude with the biggest white boy Afro ever, Devin. Sarah and Devin had a nice contrast about them. Sarah took the stage and began her thing which almost seemed like spoken word electroclash, while Devin controlled the tunes on the dance floor. Both began dancing like maniacs. Sarah kept running back and forth upon the stage while Devin faked seizures on the floor, much to the enjoyment of the audience. Once these two came out, the crowd began to grow which included a fella in a full chipmunk costume and bow tie who was happily dancing away. Remember, the strobe lights remained on as this music hummed and thumped along. The crowd seemed to enjoy the tunes as they tapped their feet and swayed their heads. By this point the loud beats and sporadic dancing supported by the incessant strobe lights made me dizzy let alone a bit nauseous. It was time for me to go, this show was getting too weird and was not what was to be expected. I am sure the fans that love this stuff had a blast the rest of the night with the additional performances.
Despite not being able to stay for the rest of the show, the vibe probably improved as more fans arrived for late night entertainment. If Carpark was aiming for an abnormal jamboree, they succeeded. With the combined awkward interactions with the bartenders, the setting and the music, it was where the freaks and geeks of song would feel right at home. For those of you who remain curious, just take a listen to the artists listed and enjoy. Until next time Carpark, keep it weird.