Brooklyn, a Place to Impress Strangers

Notes on the evolution of the BK DIY scene, now available in Manhattan

When DIY kingpin Todd P announced a break last November to "work on some other projects for a while," his followers worried the scene would suffer—the shows he booked in lofts, galleries, basements, and bars had essentially defined DIY in Brooklyn since 2001. The concern was for naught, of course: Local bookers like Rats of NIMH and Entertainment4Every1 continue to up their game, Showpaper is a hit under the thumb of Joe Ahearn, and ambitious new spaces are cropping up all the time—at least three since February, including one that's actually in the city.

"The last time I was at one of those places was at Bowery [Ballroom], I think," says Ariel Panero, a founder of one of the latest spots, referring to the city's licensed music venues. "And I almost got kicked out for smoking a joint. Sure, maybe not the smartest thing, but that's what's so great about DIY spaces . . . And like at the No Age show at CMJ, there was only a very small crowd of people moshing, and others were getting pissed for getting their drinks spilled a little." So he and a friend, Alex Mallory, built a stage in Mallory's apartment—a spacious floor in a building that Mallory's dad owns on West 3rd Street—and christened it Less Artists, More Condos.

"The crowds are respectful of the spaces, for sure," Panero continues. "We're all there for the same reasons: We don't want to pay $7 a beer or have bouncers at the door who act like dicks. I mean, generally people are smart. They aren't there to start fights."

But they are there to drink beer, hear music, and get laid. Here's a glance at the all-ages venues of the moment (two standbys, two newbies, and the Bodega, set to open any day):

Market Hotel

•Neighborhood: Bushwick

•Distance from subway: The Myrtle stop on the J/M/Z is like 30 feet from the door.

•What it is: Second-floor space in a great old building with a cast-iron façade, rumored to be a former Dominican speakeasy from the late '70s. Haven't been there yet? Just complain about the smoke in the main room. Your friends will never know.

•Booking shows since: February 2008

•Who actually lives there: Eight artists and musicians (including members of the So So Glos), who use the venue for studio space as well as living quarters

• Memorable shows: Dan Deacon, Health, and Aa in early April; Deerhunter's show-opening cover of Pylon's "Cool"

• Upcoming: Awesome Color record-release party, with the Usaisamonster, on May 3.

Less Artists, More Condos

• Neighborhood: Manhattan

• Distance from subway: Two short blocks from the West 4th Street station

• What it is: A loft located a block south of Washington Square Park—that's right, in Manhattan. But as Less Artists points out on its MySpace page: "If you don't stand outside and make a lot of noise big brother won't find out and that's how we want it."

• Booking shows since: April 2008

• Who actually lives there: Five people, including Alex Mallory, whose father owns the building. Unsurprisingly, not all of the roomies are so DIY-minded: "That's why we can only have two shows a month," explains co-founder Ariel Panero. "So we have to be selective."

• Memorable shows: Oxford Collapse and Cause Co-Motion inaugurated the space in early April; the second show of the month was a Rats of NIMH–curated affair with Cutter, J.A.C.K., and Drink Up Buttercup.

• Upcoming: Panero says they're still pinning down the details, but expect a Muggabears date in late May/early June.

The Bodega

• Neighborhood: Bushwick

• Distance from subway: Two blocks from the Kosciusko stop on the J

• What it is: A vehicle for the increasingly frequent events run by Chief magazine, set to open in May. "It'll be an all-purpose arts venue," Chief founder and editor Andy Smith says of the bi-level space, which is actually hidden behind a bodega storefront. "Art exhibits, basement dance parties, all-night rock shows, etc."

• Who actually lives there: No one

• Upcoming: A still-to-be-determined opening party (check ChiefMag.com for updates); a Bushwick block party June 21; an all-day (and all-night) celebration of independence on July 4.

Death by Audio

• Neighborhood: Williamsburg

• Distance from subway: It's a hike—but a benign hike.

• What it is: A number of things, pretty much all helmed by dreamy Oliver Ackermann, A Place to Bury Strangers' singer/guitarist: custom-effects pedal company, band-practice space, living quarters, workshop, studio, and venue

• Booking shows since: March 2007

• Who actually lives there: A Place to Bury Strangers

• Memorable shows: Most recently, Deer Tick and the Dodos; any time Ackermann's studio mates Dirty on Purpose play

• Upcoming: Film School on May 3, Cinco de Mayo with Juiceboxxx on May 5; Modey Lemon on June 7.

Silent Barn

Neighborhood: Ridgewood

Distance from subway: Three blocks from the Halsey stop on the L; there's also a kinda creepy but ultimately friendly car service next-door to the venue.

What it is: A house so far east in Brooklyn that it's actually in Queens. Shows are held upstairs in the main room and also in the basement, down a skinny one-person-at-a-time staircase, which is terrifying if your mind tends toward disaster scenarios.

Booking shows since: March 2007, in its current incarnation. "Before that, there were some occasional shows since early 2006," says one resident.

Who actually lives there: Four full-time residents, and eight to 10 members of the extended Barn crew that use the space regularly

Memorable Shows: One resident lists performances by No Age, Fire on Fire, and Lucky Dragons as his favorites, as well as the Deer Tick/Castanets double bill.

Upcoming: Abe Vigoda and Vivian Girls on May 2; a "super-secret awesome show" on May 30.

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