D.I.Y. N.Y.C. Band ‘The Eskalators’ Cause Subway Chaos With Their Guerrilla Shows

On a recent trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of seeing The Eskalators play in Brooklyn apartment, during a three day, permit-less, rooftop and backyard music festival, Hillstock, that they apparently also put on!  I had no idea who they were, or what they were going to sound like, but their high energy  and the fact that their band consisted of 15+ members caught my attention.

After the show I began doing some research on The Eskalators, and discovered that they’re notorious for organizing guerrilla subway shows!  The above video is from their 4th subway show, and as you can see, not only do they completely claim the space with their music and presence, they also cover all of the subway advertisements with homemade banners and sheets of coloured paper, and also engage all the other subway passengers by having them sing along, or play provided bazookas.  They also replaced the “Your next stop…” message with “Your next stop is ‘shut the hell up,’ and the transfers are ‘don’t get off the train.'”

Their 5th subway show was a few days ago, but what was particularly interesting about this event was that they took the  passenger participation role to the next level by creating a set list of instructions and advertised it so that anyone join them.

The entire event is an open invitation for the community to participate and engage with their music and art. Having a set list of well-known songs (about trains!) that the passengers can sing along to completely redefines the subway space.  The commuters are used to sitting alone, avoiding contact with one another and their surroundings, so this guerrilla show forces them to take notice to what’s around them.

I thought this was particularly interesting in terms of our Text-in-Transit project, since we were seeking to capture the attention of the passengers in a different way.  Maybe this particular project will be motivation for some Windsor musicians to ban together, put on a guerrilla show on public transit and bus commuters in a different way!

10 Replies to “D.I.Y. N.Y.C. Band ‘The Eskalators’ Cause Subway Chaos With Their Guerrilla Shows”

  1. That looks amazingly fun. You’re completely right, they own that space and my favourite part is the temporality. Something about that bit of random chance creating the situation (the people who ended up seeing that show may not have chosen to see / participate in a show) that really makes it seem exciting. The instructions above look like that show would have been that much more incredible … nice find!

    I’m also curious about the point at which a city is too big for any official to care about this happening vs. a city being so small that you might be able to ask permission to make this happen, or maybe more fittingly, the Hillstock festival. Or is asking permission always an exercise in futility?

    1. A festival like Hillstock DEFINITELY wouldn’t work in our city (seeing as MULTIPLE d.i.y. venues/shows we’ve tried opening/putting on have all been shut down).
      I’m not too sure how a performance piece in public transit would go over, but maybe it’s worth trying!

  2. That looks like real fun. And what a great atmosphere that would’ve been. Everyone all squished together on a moving subway…Neat!

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