On a largely industrial strip of Melrose Street (save the apartments closer to Irving Avenue) a brightly painted rolling door covers a former auto repair shop. Last Saturday afternoon, under a dark cloud cover, groups of people continually walked into the fenced-off yard next door as noisy psychedelica poured out. The scene from the outside-in couldn’t have been more suitable. After all, this was Secret Project Robot’s One Year Anniversary in their Bushwick location.
Different than any other gallery in the neighborhood, Secret Project Robot hosted their anniversary in the afternoon. “We wanted it to be for kids and open to everyone,” said Rachel Nelson (no relation). That became evident during the opening set of psych-prog band Oneida, when one of the member’s toddler sons joined his dad and the rest of the band onstage. The crowd cheered him when he left.
SPR favorites played both in the backyard and inside all day into the early evening, among them crowd favorites Guardian Alien (ex-Liturgy) and of course the badass K-Holes, whose set was reminiscent of a noisier, more energetic X. The quality of the performances came as no surprise.
“At Secret Project Robot, we usually have really strict criteria for art and music events. Art shows need to be submitted at least six months in advance and musical performances need to be more artistic and special than just a rock show that you can see anywhere else,” said Nelson. “Special and with love are words that are really important to us.”
As a space that grew artistically in their former location at Monster Island in Williamsburg (where they operated for 13 years before the building’s demise,) their relocation to Bushwick has only increased their mission to challenge audiences and artists and be a space for the surrounding community. Since their opening, the various rooms inside have been further decorated, including walls near the bathroom covered in stuffed animals, while the gravel backyard, in addition to housing shipping containers, now contains a stage, bar, tables and large potted plants and flowers. Clearly this is a space run with love and awareness of the surrounding environment’s past, present and future.
For a space that’s already hosted events this year such as the Bushwig Drag Festival, the You Are Here Festival and countless noise salons and exhibitions, they’re already looking ahead. Says Nelson, “Bushwick is growing fast. Hopefully all the Spanish families aren’t going anywhere and will continue to have barbecues on the streets and play really loud music at all hours- that is why I moved to New York and I hope Bushwick keeps this.”