To ring in June 1st, the annual Bang on a Can Marathon resonated out of the lobby of the World Financial Center and into the unlikely streets of the financial district, where music fans wandered from the R train, or from wherever, in search of sounds as sweeping as a live orchestral reenactment of The Beatles Revolution #9 from the White Album by Alarm Will Sound or the live projections and drum/dj insanity of a 4am set put on by Dan Deacon.
Bang on a Can is a New York based collections of musicians committed to the progress of sound. The marathon, which takes underneath towering skylights and windows facing the Hudson and the marina, stretched 12 hours, from 6pm to 6am. There is something so deliciously and ironically pagan about a gathering of musicians who congregate under the name “Bang on a Can” at “The World Financial Center”. New York! There is performance art even latent in your performance!
Anyway, I wanted to see just what sort of person stumbled into this waterside institution of commerce for a late night/dawn breaking musical experience. There were your typical mountain loving long haired, bearded fellas sitting upon folding chairs next to the more well tailored, refined urbanian music fans one would expect at an opera. There were high school kids, clustered in groups and chattering—most likely enjoying a coed all-nighter thanks to a performing parent or fan. On the staircase, there were many who’d surrendered to sleep, and were operated in an osmosis-like realm of music and REM.
I sat on the stairs with my friend, who was battling his own bout with head nodding—something the Sparks I forced on him did nothing to combat. Wondering around, I questioned the clusters of late-nighters why they’d decided to make the trek at 3:45 am.
“Dan Deacon.” said one girl, sitting with two friends near the bathrooms. “Dan Deacon,” said a skinny t-shirt clad kid, surreptitiously cracking a Budweiser. And sure enough, at 4am, the crowd, which was thinning, ballooned to a Mercury Lounge-crushing size (still not that big, but bigger) of stage rushers, who imbibed the thundering percussion and psychedelic projections with a gusto that brought my friend out of his semi-sleep, and many of the finer attired even to their feet.
As the set ended, daylight behind the stage began to break, and the room, which had been shrouded by the darkness of the sky, suddenly gave way to the yachts floating in the marina, and Hoboken looming across the river. My eyes hurt from being open. It was time to go home.