A look at Brooklyn Steel, Williamsburg’s newest music venue

A look at Brooklyn Steel, Williamsburg’s newest music venue
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s Steeling the spotlight!

Brooklyn’s newest music venue — the 1,800-person spot Brooklyn Steel in Williamsburg — opened last night with some of the best sounds and sightlines in the borough. The former steel fabrication plant on Frost Street has already sold out some of its shows through October, which makes it clear that Brooklyn needed another large venue, said a partner at Bowery Presents, the company that owns and operates Brooklyn Steel.

“Certainly the next couple months, looks like we made a good bet. It’s pretty exciting. I think we’re going to bring great music,” said Jim Glancy. “And hopefully people discover a part of Brooklyn they haven’t seen before.”

Local rock band LCD Soundsystem is opening the space with five sold-out shows, and a bunch of other big names, including the Decemberists and P.J. Harvey, have fully booked shows happening soon. For those looking to get in soon, the Squirrel Nut Zippers still have spots available for its swinging April 21 show!

The concert company transformed the active warehouse into a two-floor venue, with a small section of the balcony and a private “Ludlow Room” reserved for VIP access. But the rest of the vast factory-like space is general admission, and no matter where you grab a spot, every view feels close to the stage, said the head of marketing at Bowery Presents.

“We built this all up from scratch — the sight lines have all been designed so that no matter where you are there’s a really a great view,” said Charley Magrew. “There’s really not a lot of obstructions in your way.”

From every angle, there is a clear view of the stage, and the floor rakes downwards towards the stage so that no one gets stuck staring at someone’s bobbing head, said Magrew. And even for shows that haven’t sold out, the space will feel packed with fans. A movable stage allows the venue to shrink to a 1,200-person space, or grow to its full 1,800 capacity as needed.

Revelers can purchase beer and mixed drinks from any of the venue’s three bars — one in the lobby just as you enter, another on the second floor, and a third in the back of the main space, under the balcony. In a nod to the legacy of the warehouse, the front of each drink station is covered with re-purposed steel, and industrial fans spin above the lobby bar.

Just like Barclays Center, Brooklyn Steel comes topped with its own green roof and padded insulation so the sound stays inside the venue, said Magrew.

“We can crank up these speakers, we’ve got wall insulation and insulation layers in the walls so that as we turn up the volume, the neighbors do not hear it and it keeps all the sound in,” he said. “The sound is fantastic.”

The other Bowery Presents venues in Brooklyn — Rough Trade and Music Hall of Williamsburg — only hold a few hundred people, so the new space allows the company to bring bigger acts to the borough. Glancy said he and his partner John Moore searched all over Brooklyn to find the perfect spot, said Glancy.

“We looked over all over, all over different neighborhoods. We looked everywhere and we saw this, it had been after a long search so we were pretty excited,” he said. “And it felt like with all that’s going on with people living and working and socializing in Brooklyn, there was an opportunity for a larger size venue.”

Brooklyn Steel [319 Frost St. between Morgan and Debevoise avenues in Williamsburg, www.bowerypresents.com/brooklyn-steel].

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.