Rumors of the Brooklyn indie music scene’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
The cascade of music venue closures in Williamsburg and Bushwick during recent months has led some to declare the club circuit dead — artists went so far as holding a dance party “funeral” for Williamsburg last week — but several new venues are giving it a fresh lease on life.
The rock shops that have opened in just more than a year include Baby’s All Right on Broadway in Williamsburg, Black Bear, in the former Public Assembly space on N. Sixth Street, Rough Trade NYC on N. Ninth Street, and Palisades, also on Broadway. As those venues set up shop, do-it-yourself spaces Glasslands, 285 Kent, and Death by Audio were getting ready to shutter to make way for Vice Media’s expansion at Kent Avenue and S. First Street, and haunts Spike Hill and Goodbye Blue Monday were also on their way out. The changing of the guard shows that, no matter what, Brooklyn’s Joe and Jill Strummers will find a way, one scene fixture opined.
“People are always going to want to play out and venues will always find creative ways of staying open,” musician and promoter Dani Mari said. “We will always have live music here in Brooklyn.”
Another promoter said that the burning out of some of the scene’s star establishments, and their replacement, is a natural part of the artistic migration and real estate speculation sweeping parts of Brooklyn.
“At the end of the day, it is a rite of passage,” Tierney Stout said. “It has happened with every neighborhood and every growing scene.”
Just last month, a new venue called Aviv opened on Morgan Avenue in Greenpoint, booking under-the-radar shows akin to those that were the bread and butter of Death By Audio and Glasslands.
And of course, venues with devoted followings continue to operate, including Silent Barn and Secret Project Robot in Bushwick, and Pete’s Candy Store and Shea Stadium in Williamsburg. The challenge for the freshman class, according to Stout, is creating the kind of epic nights that show-goers won’t forget.
“There will always be new venues, but those new venues will not have the memories attached to them that the old ones did,” she said.
Baby’s All Right opened in late 2013. Co-owners Billy Jones and Zachary Mexico did a lot of homework to make sure that it would last, Jones said.
“Our approach was to make it legitimate for the long term,” he said. “We were not interested unless we could lay the groundwork to something that would be here for a very long time.”
To that end, the pair secured a long-term lease, Jones said, though he wouldn’t say how long.
If there’s a moral to this story, it’s not to believe the hype, according to Stout.
“It is a constant that people will always say it used to be so much cooler than it is now,” she said. “There are always going to be cool people doing cool stuff. You might just be a little too old to understand it.”