Say goodbye to an era. Brownies shut its dingy doors on Saturday night, ending its 13-year history as one of the crucial East Village rock haunts. Artists as diverse as Alec Empire, the Strokes, Agent Orange, Cibo Matto, DJ Vadim, and Girls Vs. Boys have graced the grungy stage. The bar plans to reopen in September—minus the performance space.
The sayonara ceremonies found East Village scenesters jammed into the long, skinny space. Sweltering heat and overwhelming humidity nearly melted the crowd into a giant, smelly indie-rock puddle as they listened to co-owner Mike Stuto give thanks to a long list of people. “I made a ‘fuck you’ list too,” he joked.
The closing party featured Clara Venus, NYC Smoke, Scout, and Hot Socky—none of whom are particularly famous, but like other unknowns who’ve played at Brownies, they might be one day.
How to tell if your cool cachet is up: People only come to your parties for the free booze—as they did for Paper magazine’s underwhelming bash July 30 at a mystery space underneath the Coffee Shop in Union Square.
It probably didn’t help that it took 30 minutes to get a drink in the first place—no thanks to a terribly complex setup that had customers standing behind a velvet rope five feet away from the actual bar. And my condolences go to X-Press 2—Ashley, Diesel, and Rocky—who spun on six decks simultaneously in celebration of their debut album Muzikizum. The sound was so wretchedly loud and distorted that the few folks who stuck it out to hear the three DJs ended up fleeing the dancefloor long before closing time. Most disappointing—David Byrne, the special guest on their smash single “Lazy”—never showed up.
The space’s non-existent vibe made me wish I were at Webster Hall. And to think a local DJ tried to rent the place last year for $12 G in cash but was turned down by the owners (one of whom is Carolyn Benitez, i.e., Jellybean‘s wife) because it wasn’t a high-fashion affair.
People didn’t just come for the free booze at Mick Rock‘s book bash at the National Arts Club, especially since there were a bazillion stars to needlessly gawk at. Some of the “stars” weren’t even real. One girl walking past the photo pit claimed to be an “illegitimate Bush daughter,” shouting “Me! Me!” at the cameras. She cackled when they did as they were told and snapped her photo. “My real name’s Sophie Wise—as in Wise Potato Chips,” she cracked.
It Girls are made, not born: After talking to an eccentric Post photog, Wooster Group performer and pal Tanya Selvaratnam got yanked into a picture with funny man Jimmy Fallon. And a star—for a hot minute, anyway—was born.
Ravers don’t really respect their elders. Most of them think the old people in the scene—you know, the 20-year-old candy kids waving around glow sticks—are losing touch. Not keeping up with Tiesto‘s latest maneuverings just dates you so badly. But at the 24 Hour Party People premiere, there was at last a reminder that this music actually has a history. The film—which centers around egomaniacal Mancunian Tony Wilson and his enterprises, Factory Records and the famed Hacienda Club—has a great soundtrack, but as Carl Cox, one of the Roxy after-party DJs pointed out, “The film focused on Joy Division and the Happy Mondays but the Hacienda was all about house music at the end of the day.”
But even if the film presented a rockist view of the music, two of the evening’s DJs didn’t—both Cox and Moby reached way into their acid-house back catalog, digging out gems like Jay Dee’s “Plastic Dreams” (1993), Nitzer Ebb’s “Let Your Body Learn” (1987), and Moby’s own anthems “Go” (1991) and “Feeling So Real” (1994).
Tony Fletcher, who’s super old school, played twice—early on the main floor and later in the VIP room, catering to the rockers in the crowd: Nick and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and man-about-town Mick Rock, as well as trance superstar John Digweed, took in the nostalgic cuts from the Farm, Charlatans, and James (but none from Factory’s biggest selling band, New Order).
The only thing missing other than “Blue Monday”: smiley-face shirts, glow sticks, and a big pile of pills, thrills, and bellyaches. Rave on!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 6, 2002