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).
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.