New DIY arts and music space Cocoon welcomes a pair of avant-garde champs

At Cocoon, a collective-run events venue housed within the very warehouse space at the intersection of Second and Hopewell streets where Meow Wolf first began so many years ago, co-founder and proprietor Mike Bachers hopes to make a contribution to a growing scene for indie acts, lesser-known artists and other performers who don’t necessarily fall into a traditional box.

Cocoon, which hosted its first-ever show in January with a performance by the Chacon/Nakatani/Santistevan Trio, joins long-running venues like Ghost and newcomers such as No Name Cinema, Cirque du So Gay and even the forthcoming Vital Spaces venue in the former Cinemacafé in Midtown, which are all energizing the local scene and building more opportunities for Santa Fe to see diverse talent.

The inaugural event comes in the form of a concert on Monday, Feb. 12 featuring experimental percussionist Chris Corsano and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Barnes—the latter of whom readers might know best as a member of A Hawk and a Hacksaw.

The show comes to town from promotions and production outfit No Futures, run by Santa Fean Joel Leshefka, who formerly put on shows via DIY space Peralta, which shuttered due to COVID-19.

Both the show and the new venue, Leshefka says, add “value and experience in the avant-garde, experimental, instrumental, ambient zones.” He tells SFR he’s approaching the work “as a fan and audience member—someone who wants to see the music live.”

Bachers, meanwhile, has grand ambitions for all types of art at Cocoon as “a container to experience and experiment, a place that can foster community.” Live music seems like a good place to start.

That ethos aligns well with New York’s Corsano, who tells SFR that he comes from a DIY world.

“For me, DIY is strongly connected to notions of self-determination,” he says. “Musicians who release their own albums, book their own tours, document themselves; start performance spaces and build networks of other artists for collaboration have always been a huge inspiration.”

Corsano’s credits and background extend outside of the do-it-yourself world, including recordings with guitarist Bill Orcutt or saxophonist Joe McPhee—not to mention recent work with British-born/American-raised pianist Armen Nalbandian and mid-aughts accompaniment with a little Icelandic artist you might have heard about called Björk. A picture emerges of an eccentric, eclectic and prolific artist comfortable with varying musical styles and levels of notoriety.

Corsano performs with a refined technique, too, meaning listeners might not expect a DIY bent. However, he says, “it informs the choices I make—where I play, how I view collaboration and collectivism, my approach to experimentation and how I go about creating a personal musical language.”

Corsano practically makes his instrument sing. He transcends the typical trap kit in favor of modifying his drums with auxiliary cymbals, bows and string-rigged cowbells to achieve orchestral size as well as sonic intrigue and variety that oscillates between avant-garde 20th century classical, deep-cut bebop and Gamelan sensibilities.

While percussive instruments sometimes get a bad rap or are relegated solely to the realm of time-keeping, his solo work eschews specific musical signatures or easy genrefication. Experimentalism can be a challenging prospect for people more at home in a 4/4 world, but Corsano makes it intriguing by serving up a fascinating though palatable introduction to more complex rhythms and musicality.

For his part, Barnes has long been known to the world as half of legendary indie act A Hawk and a Hacksaw and as a member of Neutral Milk Hotel, Santa Fe’s Beirut and others. He has sometimes been pigeon-holed as an indie-folk player, but for his Cocoon show, he’s set to strip way down for a performance using solely the Persian santur.

Santur players achieve their sounds with small wooden mallets and by striking rows of strings stretched in clusters across a wooden board—somewhat akin to the hammered dulcimer. The Santur’s origins date to a time before the birth of Christ, and its harmonic possibilities seem almost endless. Barnes will reportedly cull from the musical traditions of Turkey and the Caucasus region.

He says much of the reason he’ll play is to support Corsano, but the ideals of Cocoon are similar to his own.

“Santa Fe is fortunate to have a place like Cocoon to host shows like this,” he explains. “I’m playing for free in support of Chris. It will be healthy…to come out to this show, to vibrate in a different way—the pandemic was truly hard for musicians, but I’m not sure when it was ever enjoyable to tour in America; Americans have forgotten how to dance.”

This show should help. And a kickoff performance/worldly dance party with musicians of this caliber at a new space like Cocoon is practically unheard-of, frankly. Both Corsano and Barnes tread rather interesting territory, too, as musicians who might pique the interest of various demographics. It’s also an opportunity to expand those horizons. For longtime lovers of music from outside English-speaking countries, newcomers or even fans of indie tunes and DIY ethics, Bachers’ and Leshefka’s coming together heralds some pretty exciting things for those ready to get out of the bars and immerse themselves in a variety of styles.

This is about listening, devouring—neither Corsano nor Barnes make music to talk over while you’re waiting for your drink. Still, Cocoon will require community input and engagement to reach its full potential, or even make it through the perilous early days that accompany any new venue’s opening.

“If we can do this right,” Bachers adds, “we can continue to be a place that grows and gives back to the Santa Fe arts community.”

Cocoon Kickoff with Chris Corsano and Jeremy Barnes: 7 pm Monday, Feb. 12. $10. Cocoon, 1800 Second St., (206) 617-0560

Coming up on 11 years in Santa Fe, local string-slinger Nich Quintero has performed and hosted countless shows around town, opening for acts like Living Color, Heartless Bastards, and Tao and the Get Down Stay Down.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the Chris Corsano/Jeremy Barnes show would be Cocoon’s first. The space’s first show actually happened in January. The story has been updated.

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