Ten years ago, the Bunker began as a small weekly party at subTonic, hidden in the basement of the now shuttered Lower East Side bar, Tonic. Since its inception, the Bunker has grown exponentially—quickly moving to places like Detroit, Boulder, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia and even outside the US in Berlin and Krakow. At the decade mark of this unstoppable party, the Bunker has chosen to celebrate in their own backyard—Williamsburg’s Public Assembly, the space that has been their home for the last 5+ years. With a lineup consisting of all four Bunker resident DJs: Derek Plaslaiko, Eric Cloutier, Mike Servito (Ghostly,) and founder Bryan Kasenic (aka Spinoza) in addition to two live Hospital Productions acts: Vatican Shadow, Silent Servant and Reaganz (more commonly known as Move D and Jonah Sharp/Spacetime Continuum,) the party took place last Friday and ran well into the wee morning hours.
Once inside, it was evident that the space would reach capacity quickly. For the most part, everyone appeared to be in a celebratory mood, the kind fostered in an environment of familiarity—clearly these attendees had been to a Bunker party before.
In the backroom, Vatican Shadow set up on the far end. Sandwiched between a few monitors and the adjacent bar, VS stood facing the stage while standing meters from it. An unfortunate location for the latest project of Dominick Fernow (Cold Cave, Prurient) as to block most everyone’s view point—a lack of vision that seemed to mirror the lack of lighting in the back room, drawing focus away from the performance and onto the sound (and subsequent dancing) itself. The only light came from inconstant flashes of iPhone camera lights, requiring Fernow to shove a miniature Maglite into his mouth to see his hands.
I found it odd that Vatican Shadow performed first, at midnight, but in no way was disappointed. The live performance felt in complete harmony with the directionless dark electronica of his latest EP Ornamented Walls, and judging by the strong applause of the audience, I was not alone in that.
Silent Servant (aka Juan Mendez) took to the stage close to an hour after him. After dropping his first full length on Fernow’s Hospital label entitled Negative Fascination, it seemed all but appropriate that Mendez felt almost like a conductor, we dancers his orchestra. His set moved without compromise, the dark world of dance music that makes it as importantly emotionally subversive as physically mobile—a fetishized sexuality ever bit as sinister as unavoidable.
By the time Mike Servito had the opportunity to DJ, everyone was well drunk and in the mood to continue dancing, good for the Ghostly man who had to take the stage in the front room clear after 3am. In truth, if every anniversary for the Bunker is going to be this fun, here’s to ten more years.