By Maria Gotay
New venues are popping up all over Bushwick with the influx of people the quickly-flourishing art and music scene. These new hot spots fall (for the most part) into two predictable catagories: fleeting-but-trendy DIY spots and highly-anticipated big, sleek, well-funded spots. There are the legendary DIY venues that live in creaky, old dingy apartment/mansions like the ever-ellusive Market Hotel (scheduled to re-open one of these days…) and Fort Useless. Then there are new refurbished spaces that hook a DIY approach onto their belt-clip when hosting shows, from Chinese Buffets (KK’s Super Buffet) and Storage Units (Cheap Storage) to Party Stores (Party Xpo / Expo 929), but have yet to make a name for themselves with multiple hit shows or permits that allow them to operate on a regular scedule.
It’s a unique market to be opening a new venue into, and the rumors about sleek, new additions are flying. The Morgan is an example of one of the talked-about, fancy new spots whose music scene was promising (especially when Jelly moved their summertime concerts to their ‘Rock Yard’) but ended up falling on its face. I mean, really, when was the last good show at The Morgan? We’ve all heard about The Wick, an enormous factory-turned-venue-and-beer-garden that is still a mystery in the works but is said to have an indoor capacity of over 700. They haven’t spilled the booker(s) they will employ but you can be assured this is going to host big name shows. Then there will be a beautiful warehouse space called Delinquency on Grand and Morgan where booking will be done by hard-working and promotional guru David Teller of Birddog Promo (stay tuned for exclusive details on this spot!).
But, these fancy newer additions and dinky one-hit-wonder DIY spaces are not all this article is about! We’re here to list the 5 most classic tried-and-true Bushwick Venues- some of them still new, some with a new facelift, others the same gaudy storefronts since the day they opened. One thing all concert-goers can agree on (despite what they might have to say about Bushick’s newer venue options)- they feature great music, and that’s what a venue is all about.
5. Don Pedro’s- 90 Manhattan Ave.
Don Pedro, the “Casa of Rock” tends to be overlooked because it is primarily a restaurant that converts one of its (very large!) rooms into a venue for concerts on occasion. But, those occasions are good ones for music of all genres! They host feel good music on a spacious elevated stage that could easily start hosting big names again (they once hosted Vivian Girls!) once they get their act together. Performing here is a joy for musicians with the great PA system and stage. Plus the shows here are always affordable or free, so you can spend those extra bucks on savory Mexican food.
4. Goodbye Blue Monday - 1087 Broadway
This intimate coffee-shop-by-day takes on a whole different ambience by night. You’ll always recognize a photo taken inside this space because of the intricate and colorful stage set up or the cluttered outdoor performance space, which is jammed with vintage toys and other weird memorabilia. GBM is the kind of place where you’ll see your friend’s band play an enjoyable and memorable set to a quaint and attentive crowd. Classic.
3. Big Snow Buffalo Lodge - 78 Varet St
Ok, yes, this is very much a new DIY space, but it’s made a name for itself as one of the best venues to open in Bushwick, EVER. With almost nightly shows, really impressive line-ups, and a unqiue art interior, Big Snow has filled a gap in the Brooklyn music scene. That gap overfloweth with Big Snow’s good qualities- affordable, unpretentious, laid back, friendly, and on top of that a fantastic sound system.
2. Brooklyn Fire Proof - 119 Ingraham St
Fire Proof is an extremely impressive venue. The concrete-clean layout of the space feels both professional and DIY, but the quality of the shows that goes on here is pretty much unparalleled. Their huge performance room (where they also host clothing swaps, art parties, and fundraisers) attaches to the intimate bar space and can comfortably fit a very large and boisterous crowd. Did we mention the massive outdoor space that hosted the Bushwick Walkabout Fest, one of the best parties we went to all summer
? This venue is not going anywhere, and in our opinion, it really never has to change.
1. Shea Stadium - 20 Meadow Street
This place tops all other Bushwick venues in attracting ecclectic, trendy, and popular music with big-name artists. Elevated above industrial paradise, this space seems to be Bushwick’s original DIY space that made it big and continues to grow. With crafty stage decour, a cheap bar, disco balls, and a large outdoor deck, the space is sketchy in the most charming way, kinda just like Bushwick! Shea Stadium is never dull in their events, whether it’s a Glowstick Party or an intimate Future Islands show. They’ve got the reputation as the coolest venue in Bushwick, and they’ve got the coolest talent lining up to play their stage.
Honorable mentions to other great Bushwick Venues: NXT LVL, Pinebox Rock Shop, Secret Project Robot.