Goodbye, Goodbye Blue Monday

Open mic fight: Despite financial woes, offbeat venue will let anyone take the stage
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A freewheeling and free-admission Bushwick music venue will close at the end of March unless it can come up with several thousand bucks, according to an insider.

For nine years Goodbye Blue Monday refused to follow the tried-and-true business model for concert halls — booking bands that have fans and charging for admission — and now the business owes the city $7,000 in fines that it would have to pay off before being able to renew its business license. Management says it is ready to throw in the bar towel.

“To quote the man [Goodbye Blue Monday] was named after, ‘so it goes…” the venue wrote on its Facebook page on Thursday afternoon, referencing the author Kurt Vonnegut. “Goodbye Blue Monday is closing down at the end of the month unless we can find a buyer who wants to take over ownership before then.”

Numerous acts got their start in the club, including the indie sensation Vampire Weekend and the long-running Bushwick Book Club concert series, where bands perform songs inspired by a different work of literature each month.

The venue has long maintained an open-booking policy and refused to charge a cover, opting instead to host shows by bands of all genres and skill levels and pay them by passing a hat between sets.

Rent and bartenders get paid out of what the space makes on drink sales, but that is apparently not enough to cover the mounting costs of staying open. Even if the lounge comes up with the cash, it will still have to contend with a landlord who wants to at least double the rent when the lease runs out in two months, according to former owner and current booking agent Steve Trimboli.

“I’m devastated, but I also understand that it was a matter of time because of the way this neighborhood is exploding,” he said. “I knew that when the lease was up, it was not going to be good.”

Trimboli declined to say how much rent the venue currently pays.

Despite the doomsday prophecies, friends and neighbors are starting to rally to come up with funds. Nyssa Frank, who runs the Living Gallery across the street and rents from the same landlord, said she would be willing to throw a benefit event for Goodbye Blue Monday in her space.

“It is a totally unpretentious venue that has devoted itself to musicians who need a space,” said Frank. “It would be a tragedy to lose it.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.