“It’s like we’re slowly waking up from a dream, but the key word is slowly,” Ron Gallo said on Friday, midway through his final set of a busy week. It had brought him twice to the rooftop of Turk’s Inn, a kitschy Middle Eastern by Midwestern restaurant that, like most of the neighborhood, was quietly closed most nights in Bushwick over the course of the year. past year. But as music festivals and Broadway shows have begun announcing detailed lineups for the upcoming COVID-free future, Turk’s Inn — through its music arm, colorfully called Sultan’s Room — is doing part of the small collection of venues that have taken the plunge and have already started hosting concerts on their rooftop, which sits above the still-closed venue below where artists like Hop Along singer Frances Quinlan and Big Thief guitarist Buck Mill have stopped since opening in 2019.
After a few weeks leading local bands like Brooklyn’s retro rock band Native Sun and a local funk singer named Jachary, Sultan’s Room quickly evolved into touring regional interests. It’s a sense of normalcy that remains rare in the city, where live concerts have been officially permitted since early April but few local venues have answered the call. Neighboring venues like Elsewhere held vigorous virtual gigs, but kept their roofs open mostly to silent DJ acts and seated campaign events. After the State Liquor Authority closed the House of Yes last year, Kae Burke, one of its co-owners, Recount the newspaper last month that it is “not financially viable” to book shows amid current capacity restrictions, which would not allow for “high-energy physical interaction”.
But the problem didn’t bother Gallo, who scored an independent radio hit a few years ago and managed to have kind of a busy pandemic. Shortly after the start, he secure a hold rolling stone for a home concert series he launched on Instagram Live titled “#staythefuckhome.” He was now one of the first to leave home, playing no less than three shows in as many days between Bushwick and Philadelphia. After leaving this one, he will play outdoor shows in Columbus and then in Nashville.
Shows at Bushwick were split into two per night and, like most of the few gigs held over the past month, they sold out very quickly. While venue owners may be wary of how and when to open doors, there seems to remain an active audience who are happy to hear music from their seats. Nevertheless, there was still a striking banality to show, as if nothing had changed at all. Instead of clapping to get in, with the same gestures, someone at the door checked the temperatures. “It’s like only the offices are closed,” a man told them.
Delegated to their socially distanced tables, the atmosphere upstairs felt less like a rock show and more like a balmy evening of entertainment, not unlike the wave of rooftop stand-up comedy shows that quietly invaded the night sky. of Bushwick. The record Gallo was spinning on had been recorded at home during the pandemic and deviated from the Nuggets-style garage rock he took to music festivals in 2017. There were loose acoustic jams, beats vaguely tropical and a song called “CANCELED!” According to a press release, he was joined on stage by his “now wife and collaborator” Chiara D’Anzieri, who had also opened for Gallo and recorded under the moniker Chick Pee, which will release a full disc later. This year. Gallo’s record had already been released – “PEACEMEAL” on New West Records – and had been the product of a “period of reinvention via self-embracing”.
The gear was oddly adequate for an evening of sitting down, queuing for a drink, then sitting back down. His aggressive, conversational lyrics seemed to indicate a pandemic spent listening, elated, to a chilling inner monologue. Halfway through, when Gallo started playing some of his old tunes, some audience members suddenly started grooving hard in place and others got up at their table and stayed there for the next song or two. before sitting down awkwardly.
As for the Salle du Sultan, the shows continue. Rubblebucket frontman Alex Toth together sold out shows next week and the former singer of a disco group called Escort, Adeline Michèle, will be play next month to an already exhausted crowd.
“It’s nice to be back in society,” Gallo said before leaving the stage.
Top photo credit: Andrew Karpan
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