Shea Stadium has been one of Brooklyn’s finer DIY-type venues since opening in April 2009 — after a quick move from Debevoise Avenue over to its current home at 20 Meadow Street (neighbor issues, alas), the spot has hosted hundreds of oft-chaotic rock shows that now live on as high-quality bootlegs in the fantastic Live at Shea Stadium archive overseen by venue owner/founder/soundman Adam Reich. “Recording (and eventually releasing the shows) was the original concept behind starting the space in the first place,” he explains. “At first I was thinking about opening a more traditional studio, but I wanted to do something different with it. Something a little more exciting and interactive.” And daunting, too — it’s tough to know where to start. So we asked Reich to pick his 10 favorites; after struggling with it a bit (“it’s like picking your favorite child!), here’s what he came up with.
Andrew Cedermark 8.14.10
A great performance from one of the most memorable nights at Shea from this past summer, when we hosted the Underwater Peoples summer showcase. It was a total marathon, I think the show went from around 6 p.m. until 4 in the morning! It was quite possibly the longest show in our short history. So many great sets were played that night from bands like Big Troubles, Alex Bleeker & the Freaks, Airwaves, and Real Estate, but for some reason I seem to go back to this one the most.
Dustin Wong 9.17.10
There’s some totally mesmerizing guitar-playing on this one … a few minutes into this set, I left the soundbooth and watched the rest of it five feet from the stage. After recording over 700 bands at Shea these past two years, it’s easy to get jaded, zone out, and not focus on the music all of the time, but sometimes you’re forced to. This was definitely one of those times. It’s always exciting when someone performing solo can create so many different textures with one instrument. You can listen to this to a few times in a row and find something different in it each time.
Guardian Alien 1.21.11
This is my most recent favorite: one of the many musical projects of drummer extraordinaire Greg Fox, who also happens to be my second cousin. Just finished mixing it down last week and got really really into it. I’m pretty sure it’s going to get properly released at some point. The set was more or less improvised, but it has such a natural flow. Things build slowly and then explode, with some really great spontaneous dialogue between instruments. I’m also partial to this one because I got to hop on the drum set for a few minutes while Greg switched to keys. It wasn’t really a planned thing, but surprisingly it all worked out. It’s always great to play music with one of your family members, especially when they’re also one of your favorite drummers.
Small Black 10.15.10
One of my favorite shows from last year. It was the release party for their latest record, New Chain. I remember during soundcheck thinking that they were particularly on point and that it was going to be a great set. They played nearly 60 minutes’ worth of great live versions of a lot of the new songs, and some older ones as well. The crowd was way into it — there was a serious party vibe that night. Definitely one of my favorite recordings.
Future Islands 7.4.10
Taken from our Summerjam 4th of July BBQ throwdown. It was a celebration for Shea’s one-year anniversary on Meadow Street curated by the aforementioned Greg Fox. Future Islands closed out the night with a bang… I remember looking out at the audience halfway through their set, it appeared as though every single person was so visibly in the moment. No sidebar conversations or chain-smoking on the balcony — they were all on the same page and having a blast. It’s the moments like those that reassure that what you’re doing is worthwhile. I think that energy translates well on these tracks.
Teeth Mountain 12.18.09
This is one of my favorites for different reasons. I’ve always really liked their music … it’s way out. I had a lot of fun mixing this one, messing around with panning and stereo space, etc. It was a chance for me to geek out and indulge … usually I try to keep the recordings very true to form. I want to people to hear them as if they were standing in the center of the room that night between the PA speakers. The show itself was kind of dismal … it was absolutely freezing (it was before we had heat) and there were less than a dozen people there. A huge blizzard hit the next day and I was snowed in at Shea for like the next three days, leaving me with a lot of time to mess around with this one.
Screaming Females 6.5.09
I wanted to include at least one highlight from our first home on Debevoise Ave. in Greenpoint. We were over there for a few months when we started out in spring ’09, but were forced to leave by several unhappy neighbors. I really don’t blame them — it couldn’t have been easy sharing a wall with us. This was the first show I can remember that we had that a few hundred people came out to. It was the first time I could hear the roar of a crowd on the recording. Of all the initial shows, I think this is the one that best represents “the early days.”
This was probably the most “dangerous” of all the recordings in the archive. This was during the Hillstock festival, another marathon night with a dozen bands or so. We set up two stages so that the show would run (close to) on time. Fiasco played on the “second stage,” which was pretty much just a small area of the floor next to one of the bathrooms. I was recording it and doing sound from a mixer five feet from where they were playing. As you might expect, things got crazy … everyone was completely amped up that night. The kids went nuts. Bodies flying all over the place. The power got kicked out several times. I was plugging things back in every 30 seconds and had to deflect at least five cans of Miller High Life from hitting our gear. This one really short song was the only track that survived. The funny part is, since the room mics got unplugged within seconds of the first song, it doesn’t really sound dangerous at all … but everyone who was there knows the truth.
The So So Glos 12.11.10
Choosing a favorite So So Glos set is tough … they’ve played so many times. They’re kind of the “house band,” literally and figuratively. They essentially live at Shea, rehearse at Shea, and help run the space. We’re all really close friends from a young age, growing up together in Bay Ridge. I’ve worked on all of their records since the band started. To be honest, I feel like the best moments were the ones that we decided, for whatever reason, not to record (the 5 a.m. set on New Years Eve ’09 comes to mind) but of all the stuff we’ve been able to capture, I think this one is the best. There was a very intense vibe at Shea that night, as the show became somewhat of a spontaneous memorial for the untimely and tragic passing of our friend Ariel Panero. There was an unparalleled sense of camaraderie at that show, which made for so many great performances. Also worth checking out from that date are the sets from The Beets and Tony Castles, two great bands who also brought it extra hard that night. One of the best nights in Shea’s history for so many reasons…
Woven Bones 10.21.10
I think this one best embodies the Shea style and spirit of sweaty, basement-style guerilla recording … I remember listening to all of those bootlegs from back in the day at Max’s Kansas City and loving all of those raw “what you hear is what it is/was” qualities in the recordings. Sonically, this is one of my favorites in the archive. I feel like it best explains what these recordings are supposed to be, without having to use all the tired adjectives I’ve mentioned above. They’re just rocking out.