Every day of a particularly chilly week last October, Ric Leichtung saw the same friendly Siamese cat roaming the gutters near his Bushwick apartment, forlorn and shivering. After one too many cold nights, a friend told him he had to bring the cat inside. “I was like, ‘I don’t know, I’m allergic to cats. I think this is a terrible idea,’ ” he remembers. “But I took it in and I ended up really, surprisingly loving cats, even though I grew up hating them.” Since then he’s rescued and rehomed four more, posting photos of each on Facebook until a friend of a friend agrees to take the kitties in. He’s a one-man DIY ASPCA.
The cats are lucky Leichtung has taken up their cause. Thanks to eight prolific years booking shows in New York, he has a far-reaching social network ready to support his projects. Those ventures include what he calls “the cat thing,” plus working as a talent buyer at Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street, Manhattan, 212-353-1600, websterhall.com) and, along with co-founder Emilie Friedlander, operating AdHoc (adhoc.fm), a collective that runs an out-of-left-field music website, produces a free zine whose writers include both journalists and musicians, and books dozens of shows a month. “If you’re a big band, you have to play with Live Nation or AEG, and what AdHoc tries to offer is an alternative,” Leichtung says. “You can still do big things with a grassroots mentality. [We’re] trying to grow with the artists we knew when they were small.”
AdHoc has introduced New York to many performers who made the big-time leap: Grimes, Death Grips, Arca, Parquet Courts, Alex G, Mitski, DJ Rashad. Leichtung has endured the closure of 285 Kent, the original Market Hotel, Death by Audio, and Palisades, all of which AdHoc was involved with. But he doesn’t indulge in mourning them. “People who say there’s no good venues anymore are totally wrong,” he says. “You just have to look, and you also have to do things. You can’t expect change to happen by itself.”
These days AdHoc’s name and signature ¯_(?)_/¯ emoji, its mascot of sorts, show up attached to artists in multiple genres — a testament to Leichtung and Freidlander’s broad, discerning tastes. AdHoc is now expanding to artsier spaces, including National Sawdust (80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 646-779-8455, nationalsawdust.org), which chose Leichtung as a curator for its current season. Unsurprisingly, Leichtung has little free time; he spends much of it with his cat, the same one he picked up off the street. And he still keeps his ears open for lonely late-night meows. “I get the same feeling from rescuing cats that I do from shows,” he says. “It’s doing something positive for the community. It just feels really good.”