Good things come in twos, and WBAR Barnard College Radio is bringing double the fun for its 18th annual WBAR-B-Q this Friday, April 15, at Barnard. The afternoon and evening music fest will include two venues, two headliners, and two delicious food options. And it’s all free.
Festivities will take place on Lehman Lawn from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then the Diana Center Event Oval for the evening portion of the show, which will last until 11 p.m. Lo-fi surf rockers Real Estate will man the outdoor stage, and The Crystal Ark—Gavin Russom of LCD Soundsystem’s latest project—will supply the psychedelic beats indoors. The Crystal Ark has only played one show in New York City before this one.
“We’re really excited about it [WBAR-B-Q],” Russom said. “I can’t think of anything that would be much more fun than playing in that context for this particular moment where we are at as a band.”
WBAR, a free-form, independent, student-run radio station, held a campus showcase of student bands in January in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre as well as a winter formal in Hewitt Dining Hall with Brooklyn-based disco band Midnight Magic.
According to WBAR college rock music director Nathan Albert, CC ’13, WBAR was able to secure two big-name bands for this year’s WBAR-B-Q because they decided against hosting an additional spring show this year.
“The rationale behind booking a band like Real Estate was to get a band that we really like but also a band that will bring people out,” Albert said. He added that WBAR strives to find bands who are under the radar but doing experimental things in music.
“Working independently, we have a small budget,” WBAR treasurer and DJ Eli Wald, CC ’12, said. “I like being able to work with a small budget because it makes you draw from a totally different world of music than you would otherwise.”
The trend with the WBAR-B-Q has been that, within a year, some bands get widely recognized. Past WBAR performers include Japanther, Gang Gang Dance, Wavves, and Vampire Weekend. Vampire Weekend’s bassist Chris Baio, CC ’07, was on staff at WBAR.
“The point of WBAR-B-Q is that we have a band that’s accessible and people want to come to,” Albert said. “But we want them to come earlier. That’s where the free food comes in.”
WBAR has placed orders for kebabs from the authentic Uzbek joint Cheburechnaya in Queens. They will serve up a vegetarian option as well and plan to have a cotton candy machine as at last year’s show. While nothing is set in stone yet, Wald said that WBAR is also planning some giveaways: a stuffed dog autographed by all of the bands, free records, and gift certificates to Liz’s Place and the Diana Café.
The other bands in the lineup do not disappoint either. Some notable names include indie band Big Troubles, electronic dance duo Blondes, and the cosmic choir sounds of Julianna Barwick, who—like many of her fellow rockers—resides in Brooklyn.
Barwick said that this Friday, her audience could expect “an enjoyable, hopefully beautiful set that takes you somewhere imaginary.” She added, “I think that’s the best thing you can hope for making music—to take someone to some imaginary world.”
The boys of Real Estate are also excited to be back in New York. Drummer Alex Bleeker and guitarist Matthew Mondanile have both attended WBAR-B-Q in past years.
“They’re stoked to be playing, and I’m stoked, too,” lead singer and guitarist Martin Courtney said.
This year’s show seems more enticing than the last, with a stronger lineup and better indoor options (the Diana Event Oval is also the event’s rain location). Last year, WBAR-B-Q was held in LeFrak Gymnasium, and Barnard’s staff required that all lights remain on for the duration of the show.
“The Diana’s a much better space than LeFrak, and the acoustics are better,” Wald said. “It’s a major step up. It’s more cozy, the décor is better, and we have control over the lights, so we can dim them so it feels like a concert.”
The Crystal Ark is working with a team of visual artists to create a light show in the Diana, which goes with Russom’s vision to fuse together dance and art. In the future, Russom hopes that the Crystal Ark will produce a live show with dancers and a visual component, but for this show the band will put on a smaller version.
WBAR beefed up its advertising for tomorrow’s show, including postings in Brooklyn Vegan and Time Out New York. While the organization has been trying to draw people from around the city, it remains focused on increasing awareness on campus.
“This will be like our coming out-party,” Albert said. “If we put good vibes out, then we can have a new wave of enthusiasm come fall.”