After a fitful start back in January 2013, the official zine for the roving “independent events collective” AdHoc went digital. In doing so, it joined countless more mini-publications that had chosen, either by design or by circumstance, to be available online only. But being relegated to an online existence wasn’t a great fit for the zine, especially considering that AdHoc already has a yin-yang sort of balance going on with a blog that feeds off the live music and in-person experiences they organize. “More and more I find myself experiencing life through a screen and it’s a terrible way to interact with the world,” AdHoc’s co-founder Ric Leichtung wrote to us in an email. “So much gets lost there.”
His partner, Emilie Friedlander, agreed. “The overwhelming speed of online publishing these days can have the effect of making even the most amazing pieces of writing or visuals feel disposable, less special,” she explained. “Print—for us—is about reviving that feeling of specialness. It’s like a little reminder that the physical world—of human hands making and building things and human beings congregating together in communal spaces—still exists.”
It took nearly four years of tweaking, but Emile (who runs the editorial side of things) and Ric (who captains the events) finally figured out a way to return to print. Now, with a reliable system up and running, the zine will make its way to your hands more often. Once a month (instead of once every few months), you’ll be able to pick up a copy at AdHoc events, DIY venues, record stores, coffee shops, and other spots around the city.
“Unfortunately, back then, we didn’t know how to pull off a print zine in the financial sense,” Emilie explained. “The original print zine was essentially a fancy art object; it cost a lot to make, and therefore had to be priced at about $10 a copy.” The fix included AdHoc’s opting for cheaper materials, higher production, and a price tag of exactly $0. (It’s available to everyone for that price, unless you’re Gilbert Grape and can’t really leave the house or something, in which case you can order your copy online for the cost of shipping.)
Back in January of 2015, Todd P’s art and music publication, Showpaper, folded because of “exhaustion at the challenge of funding and producing the newspaper,” as they noted in their farewell letter. So how is AdHoc able to swing this one? “Well, we throw a lot of shows, and that helps,” Ric noted. “It pretty much evens out to one event a day, so if each show supports the zine even just a little bit then it’s totally worth it.”
While Showpaper was completely ad-free, AdHoc can’t make the same promise. But then again, it’s not like it’s going to be deluged by real-estate ads for Bushwick’s first and most authentic skyscraper condo complex, or Mario Batali’s ruddy, ginger-boy visage beaming bad juju at you until you check out his new line of lasagna pans at Eataly. Ric said that any ads the zine might take on to cover production costs have to “feel like a good fit” and will probz have more to do with the world of festivals, record labels, venues, and such than they will with downright evil.
The humble format, which Emilie described as a “couple of sheets of newsprint,” belies the awesomeness inside and out, which includes collaborations with some of the DIY scene’s best musicians, artists, and writers (many of the contributors are all three). There’s a butt-load of talent squished into a few pages.
The only thing that’s business as usual is that they’re continuing to list their own shows. “More importantly, it centralizes all the amazing things happening in the city in one place,” Ric said. “It encourages cross-pollination and it strengthens the scene, which is what we’re all about.”
And AdHoc’s reputation for throwing stellar events is only growing thanks in part to the reemergence of Market Hotel, where they’re booking shows that spotlight local talent (Girlpool, Haram, and Mac DeMarco, among others), artists from all over, and legendary revival acts (James Chance & the Contortions, Faust). “It’s sort of become our homebase,” Ric explained. “Brooklyn hasn’t had a DIY-minded space that’s as large as Market in a long time, and it’s been amazing doing all these shows with bigger bands in that kind of setting. And even better, bands that cut their teeth in Bushwick and Ridgewood and got a little popular have more of a choice about where to play. Just because you can get 500 people to come see you doesn’t mean you have to play at some faceless venue in Manhattan or Williamsburg. It can stay in the family.”
AdHoc’s consistently killer lineups speak to the kind of stuff that’s going to make its way into the pages of the zine. “A lot of the art and writing is actually made by the musicians who play our shows, so it’s kind of like a memento or collector’s item,” Emilie explained.
However, the zine’s getting a content reboot of sorts. Emilie explained that, over the years, they’ve shifted more toward the “criticism and journalism” side of things. “Our original intention with the zine had been to put writings and visual art from musicians and other movers and shakers in the DIY community front and center.” The very first issue is a pretty good representation of what things will look like from now on: with cover art by A. Savage (aka Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts and local record label Dull Tools); an interview by Ben Greenberg (currently of Uniform and, previously, The Men) with Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of the Melvins; and an essay by Victoria Ruiz (Downtown Boys) in which she “debunks rock’s arbitrary connection to skin color.”
Emile described issue #12, and the zine from here on out, as “truly a community effort.” As such, AdHoc is tapping brains belonging to “people whose contributions to the scene—artistically or otherwise— mean a lot to us.” They even have plans to let individual artists do curatorial takeovers every once in a while. (Let’s just hope they throw an issue to Wolf Eyes, who staged a wildly entertaining trollerific takeover of Third Man Records’ Instagram last fall.)
In a lot of ways, the AdHoc zine is positioning itself as the heir to Showpaper— they even share the same designer, Eyebodega (a graphic design and art studio located in Bushwick, right by the Silent Barn). But as a bigger publication, AdHoc is giving its artists more room to breathe and ushering in a new wave of musicians and “scene” people– all of which makes it seem kind of laughable that anyone could ever have mourned the death of DIY in Brooklyn.
“If you come to our shows then you’ll find them being handed out towards the end by Emilie or me or Tyler [Richman], who’s also behind a lot of our events,” Ric noted. “We’re only a couple people and definitely need help, so if anyone wants to get into free shows and help hand them then definitely reach out to us!””