It’s only been about two years since Stuart Solomon, Zack Wheeler, and Olivia Russin first secured a barebones warehouse in Greenpoint’s small sliver of an industrial corridor and turned it into a DIY show space called Aviv, so it’s been something of a shock to hear that the venue will be closing its doors at the end of October. Add the fact that Brooklyn recently lost another one of its heaviest hitters, Palisades, and Aviv’s passing will almost certainly mean that, as far as indie/underground/punk shows are concerned, there’s going to be a period of relative quiet to follow.
To celebrate the arrival of Ebru Yildiz’s new book, a hefty collection of black-and-white photos from the final 70 or so days of Death By Audio, the photographer and nearly everyone from the bygone Williamsburg DIY venue’s inner circle descended on Rough Trade on Thursday night for a panel discussion. But really, it was more like a bunch of friends telling great stories from the venue that reigned for seven years, and was known for its wide array of amazing shows with lineups that weren’t so much about making money (uh, tickets were around $7 and a friend who played there several times told me that DBA was known for taking care of its touring bands).
“It wouldn’t have happened as rapidly as it happened if it weren’t for all the people that were creating culture on their own terms and making it attractive.” —Kyp Malone, TV on the Radio
“The role of the artist in New York is to make a neighborhood so desirable that artists can’t afford to live there anymore.”—Mayor Ed Koch
Goodnight Brooklyn: the Story of Death by Audio, a documentary premiering today at SXSW, is all of the things you would expect it to be: a historical look at the origins and eventual demise of the Williamsburg DIY venue, a crushing story of scruffy artists’ defeat at the hands of corporate near-sightedness, and a montage of live footage from the final evenings of shows. It’s also a really good movie.
Well, gee whiz– this sounds fun: “Beats Delight is a new monthly multi-dimensional experience held at Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery.” The events feature smooth jams from live acts and DJs, visual projections, and paintings. Too bad the longstanding DIY venue will close at the end of November, essentially ending the history of DIY in Williamsburg. Well, there’s a new DIY comedy space here, at least… The point being, gobble up the last of the non-corporate music scene here while you still can and soak up some R&B, smooth beats, and chill wave hip-hop at the same time. Featuring Ateller and Adesuwa.
Read more here.
I first met Jify Shah back in 2014 when things were looking up for the owner of Cameo Gallery, a venue that became a mainstay in the Williamsburg music scene after it opened in 2009 on North 6th Sreet. It was the beginning of the summer and he’d just opened a restaurant featuring tropical cocktails named for figures in the Brooklyn music scene (“Losing My Edge,” with jalapeño-infused vodka) and food inspired by the stuff he ate as a kid growing up in Curaçao, a small island in the Caribbean.
Only a year later, rumors surfaced about the future of Cameo, which had quickly become one of the last remaining DIY institutions in the area. At first, Jify was hard to reach and clearly unwilling to talk about what was really going on. I was hoping his silence indicated Cameo would remain open for a little bit longer before Williamsburg is entirely overtaken by shadowy LLCs and glittering towers. No such luck. “I never thought it would’ve become what it did,” Jify told us.
In many ways, Williamsburg’s newest venue couldn’t be more different from the (mostly) defunct DIY show spaces (bar/art-galleries and dingy old warehouses) that once lined the waterfront area. (Cameo, at least, is still here — for another month and a half, anyway). That’s because National Sawdust is a refined concert hall, a serious non-profit institution with powerful and moneyed supporters plus a leadership of established talent tapped directly from the music and art worlds.
You might remember a show space in Williamsburg called Dead Herring. It was around for six years — practically decades in DIY years — before it closed in 2013. “I knew it wouldn’t last forever,” Nicki Ishmael admitted. “It’s that whole DIY has-an-expiration-date thing.” But it’s a wonder Nicki can keep it together when reminiscing. DIY’s the only home she’s ever had in New York City. From the moment she arrived here Ishmael has been deeply involved in the underground music scene. “I immediately moved into a DIY space when I moved here back in 2006,” she recalled. So it’s only natural that Ishmael and others from Dead Herring refused to let their own closure, and dozens more around them, get them down.