Best New Music Venue That Has a Ring to It - 2009
The Bell House
In Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem described the Gowanus Canal as "the only body of water in the world that is 90 percent guns." But recently, that benighted waterway has become home to an art and music scene that greatly improves the canal's sights and sounds—if not its particular stench. The latest to arrive is The Bell House, a bar and performance space set amid a strip of lowering warehouses. The exterior is unprepossessing, but inside, the décor toggles between industrial chic and countrified rusticity. Visible heating pipes vie with deer skulls and tawdry landscape paintings. The largely local crowd sways to country, folk, and rock, and on off-nights, they're treated to events like ping-pong tournaments, trivia nights, and "Flight Club," an evening of beer and cheese pairings that ought to make any self-respecting rock club mildly ashamed. Well, the suitably abashed can drown their sorrows in the venue's music-themed tipples, such as Mellow Gold: "The cocktail your grandfather would drink if he was a Beck fan and a dreamer and kinda mean."