Live: Theophilus London Performs A Wedding Onstage At New Astor Place Joint Dominion NY


Theophilus London/DJ Complex
Dominion NY
Tuesday, January 25

Better Than: A regular Tuesday night elsewhere.

Not enough new venues are opening up in New York these days, so tonight’s grand opening of Dominion NY near Astor Place is a happening, albeit a happening in the not especially happening “Astor Place Quarter,” as they’ve dubbed it. As you arrive at the large, multi-purpose venue not far enough from the Blue Man Group theater, friendly doormen welcome you to the “best venue in NoHo.” We’ll see about that . . .

Ducking down a few stairs into a small, slightly cavernous bar, your first impression conjures up too many others venues in the area: dark, private, and not big enough. But a quick walk into the back room doesn’t prepare you for the massive, teched-out performance space that awaits. Capable of splitting two separate spaces, the venue houses a large stage in the back room at least ten feet higher than the stout ceiling in the front room, with a spiral staircase onstage. The back booth houses two massive boards for soundmen. Whatever this was before, it couldn’t have been as pimped out as it is now. After a quick chat with the owner, it is revealed that there is a full-fledged recording studio beneath the venue, and a small bar in the back that, due to legal reasons, cannot compete with the main bar out front.

Tonight a small “young professional” crowd spread out over the two rooms populates the party. DJ Complex spins a fun but mainstream set of party jams in the back room; the sound system pipes the music into the front with a nice, full sound. A little after 10 p.m., Theophilus London takes the stage, and nearly everyone in the place makes their way into the back. “I told my boy at dinner that I’m-a try and do some standup tonight,” he declares. What follows is a good-time set of accessible hip-hop, a mix of Hot Chip-style beats and Wale-style rhymes. London is extremely comfortable onstage — he invites a girl up to dance with him, immediately following a couple that he “marries” onstage: “You tryin’ to take this girl home tonight? Oh, this is your girlfriend?? Shit, well, get the fuck up here & I’m-a marry y’all!!” And he does. “Kiss the fuckin’ bride, man! Do it!!” he implores. “Valentine’s Day I’m playing the Music Hall, so bring your girlfriends and I’ll marry you, too!”

Most people clear out afterward, though the place stays open, and thank goodness: Dominion NY is a deceptively large new venue that can house DJs, bands, or any combination thereof in an area that would normally have very little to offer, besides the Blue Man Group.

Critical Bias: Surprise! A few blocks down from K-Mart is a sweet new venue.

Overheard: “Where ARE we??”

Random Notebook Dump: A great spot for a residency by an up-and-coming new band in the back room.

Set List:
love is real
sorry to interrupt
why even try
girls money
wine & chocolate
accept the new
flying overseas
humdrum town
groove me
always love you
strange love

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