It was this day last year that Suzanne Fiol, the kind, charismatic local presence who founded Issue Project Room in 2003, died, after a protracted battle with cancer. (Our tribute to her is here.) She was a lovely person whom we were lucky enough to know, a little bit, like so many other people who worked with her or ran into her at her space over the years. For today, one stray memory: standing outside Issue’s old space along the Gowanus, halfway into the stellar month-long Independents Festival Fiol curated in January, 2007. “I’m a little shocked at how successful this is,” she said to me, as geeked out by her own proceedings as I was. “Fend for your own,” her partner in that Independents Festival, Regina Greene, told me then, when I asked about the uncertain long term prospects of the space. “The only thing you can do about it is to grab onto your community and family, which is us.” And Suzanne did.
And Issue Project did more than survive. Since then, the venue has grown into a much bigger endeavor, and will graduate from its current surroundings at the Old American Can Factory to a massive, formerly crumbling theater on Livingston Street, just as soon as they finish renovating it. In the meantime, shows go on there, nearly every night; on Friday, Issue will team with Haunting the Chapel and Blackened Music to present the first Swans show in NYC in more than a decade. None of this would have been possible without Suzanne. She brought more music to Brooklyn than practically anyone else over the last decade, but tonight, Issue will be paying tribute by remaining silent. It’s only fitting.