Bushwick delis, Chinese buffets, Mexican restaurants, Masonic temples, beaches, churches, and now an 18th-century Dutch colonial farm; New York DIY mastermind Todd Patrick has proven, yet again, that when booking an all-ages show, selecting a venue is part of the artistry. This evening at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House on the Queens/Brooklyn border, legendary independent musicians Daniel Higgs of Lungfish and Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav will perform at an outdoor show that has the makings of history lesson.
“The first gifts I received in New York were two books. One was Gotham, which traces New York from pre-history to the 1900s, and the other was a survey of all the historical sites in the city,” Patrick says. “I came to find that there were all these old historical farmhouses hidden throughout the city.”
The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, the oldest Dutch colonial stone home in New York City, is located near the industrial zoo surrounding the Jefferson Street stop on the L train. It was originally built in the mid-1600s; another home was built on its foundation in 1709, and that structure still exists today. Over the past three centuries, the land has been used in many different ways, including as a base for a scrap glass business and as the border between the two boroughs now known as Brooklyn and Queens.
But why throw a show here?
“I’m always looking for a place that kind of transcends the usual idea of a musical event and brings it back to the idea that there’s something a little more artistic going on,” Patrick says. “I guess one of the biggest complaints you can make about upper class bohemian types is that they are, in fact, somewhat cowardly in exploring their city. I’ve encountered people who essentially don’t know anything beyond the three train stops where they and their friends live, while all this other art is happening. Take someone like Daniel Higgs, who harkens back to the late ’80s, Dischord [Records], and Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav, one of the prototypical early-’00s Williamsburg bands—these are people whose work has always been about art in a meaningful way.”
Harrington agrees. “The value in doing shows in nontraditional, historic places like this is that it re-contextualizes things. For me—always—any type of alternative or punk music, anything from those worlds, is about so much more than a song. It’s about the scene, location, people—there are so many more components to it. Oddball places are amazing representations of that aesthetic. The farm will provide the ‘happening”‘component.”
“I give concerts in so many ‘unusual’ venues and contexts that they don’t seem unusual, only possible, and then, immediately, inevitable,” Higgs says. “Every audience is a unique complex of souls, then consider the drugs they may or may not be taking, indoor, outdoor, acoustic, electric.”
The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House reworks the exchange between performer and performance and allows the art to present itself in a different way, something that both musicians and Patrick say is necessary.
“It becomes important to take shows out of the setting of the same clubs. Places like the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House will take it back to a place when the artistry of performers can stand out in their own terms in a place where people will pay more attention,” Patrick stated, “This will be a more memorable experience, not just another notch on a twitter feed of shows you went to.”
Both performers left me with words of advice for those looking to attend tonight’s show, which is BYOB:
“Remember, the word ‘concert’ implies cooperation, being & working together, to receive, enjoy, & be moved by the music.”—Daniel Higgs
“Bring ponchos, maybe some chilled white wine.”—Tim Harrington
Daniel Higgs and Tim Harrington perform at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House (1820 Flushing Avenue) tonight. Doors are at 6 p.m.