AF 2019 IN REVIEW: Best DIY Promoters, Collectives, & Venues

After 152 shows touring this year with my three projects – Sharkmuffin, Gustaf, and Gesserit – here are my picks for the best DIY promoters, collectives and venues of 2019! We chatted with everyone about their best shows and overall reflections from 2019.

Jake Sprecher / Duffy’s Tavern
(Chico, CA)

“2019 was easily one of the best musical years of my life, and I am endlessly grateful for the continued support of the totally badass arts community we have here in Chico. As anyone that’s toured the West Coast knows, the I-5 corridor between the Bay Area and Portland can be pretty lean. But that’s where an isolated little college burg like Chico can step up and blow your mind on any given night. People like to have a good time in this town, and we’ve got excellent local talent, which in turn provides a whole lot of love for touring bands.

I’ve been booking at Duffy’s for close to 10 years now… to see our favorite little rock ‘n’ roll dive consistently included on itineraries chock full of the bars and clubs that you always hope to play in your own band? That does my heart more good than I can express. I was also stoked to take up the booking reins at Naked Lounge this summer, as it’s a great all-ages space and happens to be where so many of us drink our coffee anyway.

As for a show of the year… Well, in April I put on the second annual installment of Valley Fever here in downtown Chico, a small multi-day club fest with 20+ bands. Flat Worms and Warm Drag headlined Duffy’s on the Friday night, and the energy in that room was a constant combination of hypnotic and ferocious. Which is pretty much all you can possibly ask for.”

Band: Piranha Rama Photographer: Andre Magalhaes. Andre Mags Designs

Lucy Lane
(Richmond, VA)

“Lucy Lane is a DIY house venue located in Richmond, Virginia. It was founded by Richmond mainstays Lucy in Battle Armor back in 2014 and they have been hosting bigger and bigger events ever since. The goal has always been to help strengthen the Richmond community by providing a space to network and showcase art with like-minded people. Though music is the focus, artists across all mediums are encouraged to get involved in the events, reinforcing the space as a true collective rather than simply a place to go party and see bands. Shows include live music, live painters, flow performances, stand up comedy, and local craft merchants.

Most events are centered around a touring band with three local acts for support. Touring bands have come to view Lucy Lane as something of an oasis, a relief from the grind of DIY touring. Traveling bands receive a private room with bunk beds and amenities, a home cooked breakfast, a washing machine, and perhaps most importantly, a hot shower. Over the years, Lucy Lane has hosted several noteworthy acts, including Illiterate Light, Zack Mexico, Secret Nudist Friends, Palm Palm, and The Wormholes. Performers and spectators agree: Lucy Lane is the real deal – an operation that would rival any major venue in town any day of the week.

The Lucy crew’s fondest memory of 2019 was hosting a touring act from Japan called MushaXKusha, an avant-garde punk group with a jarring live show that will have you dancing and questioning your own sanity all at once. The vocalist of the group wears traditional Japanese face paint and does interpretive dance throughout the show. When their set was finished, the crowd emerging from the basement all had the same awe-struck look on their faces, like they’d just gotten off a 30-minute roller coaster. Only the drummer spoke English, but the love and gratitude they expressed required no translation. Andrew Smith, who handles the booking for Lucy Lane, had this to say: ‘Communicating with those guys through the language barrier was one of the most surreal and rewarding experiences we’ve had running the venue to-date.’

Lucy Lane has also been branching out into hosting charity events, and last July Lucy Lane hosted an afternoon fundraiser for the local SPCA. The stage was set up outside in the sun and had attendees bring their dogs to run around and play. The event was a success, raising about $400 for the charity. In the coming new year, Lucy Lane is gearing up for more opportunities to grow with the community and showcase up-and-coming artists. As a final thought Smith added, ‘The world can be overwhelmingly bleak; if we can create a space that allows people to forget their worries for a few hours, be themselves, and find a new best bud to share a moment and a warm fuzzy hug with, then we’re doing our part.'”

Montgomery Drive
(Orlando, FL)

“Since 2004, Montgomery Drive has worked to facilitate as many inclusive, fun, and safe events as possible. As 2019 comes to a close we’re thrilled to reflect back and see that we facilitated 593 events between FL and MD this year. We consider ourselves extremely blessed to have the opportunity to have worked with so many phenomenal artists and venues. We look forward to going even bigger in 2020 – join us on the ride!”

Material Girls perform at PRFM Knoxville, June 1st, 2019. Photo credit: Nicole Alexis Miller

Chris Rusk / Punk Rock Flea Market
(Knoxville, TN)

“One of my favorite shows I worked on this past year was co-organizing our annual Knovxille Punk Rock Flea Market.  Around 3000 attendees enjoyed over 100 vendor booths selling everything from records and skateboard decks to comic books and fetish gear.  We had two stages hosting over a dozen national and local bands, including Memphis’s NOTS, Atlanta’s Material Girls, Nashville’s Spodee Boy, and Columbus’s DANA.  We also had a skatepark in which skaters and BMX bikers ramped through a flaming hoop during NOTS’s set.  It was an all-day affair and was a long set up and clean up, not to mention the months of planning, but at the end of the day, the most satisfying event I worked on all year.  Looking forward to the next one – October 3 2020!”

Nora Dabdoub / Shea Stadium Presents
(Brooklyn, NY)

“The year kicked off with a big hit to the community. We lost Mark Fletcher, an integral voice and part of our family. We’re lucky to have had the opportunity to continue his memory and passion for the NYC music scene through a free, all-analog recording space he founded before he passed.  Celebrating the light he brought, the lives he changed through his involvement and support in the music world has brought us closer together and intensified our mission.

A good part of our summer was spent at Rockaway beach, which was a true highlight and a new tradition for us. We’ve been hosting our annual Summerjam show on July 4th in Rockaway since 20 Meadow wrapped in 2017 and this year we expanded to booking a series of shows with our friends at the great beach-front space Rippers. Hard to beat a beach day followed by a show looking out onto the sea, come on! It’s great to have been able to see new bands like Emmerson and her Clammy Hands, Janitor, Alexander Orange Drink, Dan Francis, Wallet, Greg Electric, Spirit Was [and others] out in the open summer air.

We’ve also continued our tried-and-true collaborations with spaces like Rubulad and Trans-Pecos, including our last show for the Mark Fletcher Studio a couple of weeks ago. We also came closer than ever to finding a [new Shea Stadium] space that had the true potential to work; it wasn’t the one, but we still want [to re-open] more than ever, and seeing how close we’ve come, we know the right one is near. We haven’t given up on the potential of the NYC music scene yet – we live in an incredible city that’s in need of more spaces to let folks come together, collaborate, dialogue and of course, party! 2020 has a lot cooking for us, including many collabs with The Mark Fletcher Studio, Wisebuck’s record release February 6 at Rubulad, and much more to be announced. See ya there!”

Snood City
(Pheonix, AZ)

“2019 was a big year for Snoodmen and our collective Snood City. It marked the opening of a brick and mortar spot on Grand Avenue in the Historic Arts District of downtown Phoenix. We opened up a neon studio (we do custom art and neon work, as well as set decor for special events) that doubles as a retail and gallery space, that also has a backspace attached to it which is a communal area where we throw events and host local (and sometimes even out of state) talent.

Our Motto is ‘Stay Unconventional’ so our goal is to bring things together in a way that hasn’t been seen before, like showcasing fire and fur in the same space. Each month we rotate the art and have a different set up to keep it fresh.

As a collective we have a lot of different types of artists involved, and Snood City is a platform to collaborate and support our creative peers. For First Friday shows, our residents will bring out and showcase their work to compliment the space. We have everything from graffiti muralists who will throw down doing a live mural on 50’+ wall that we set up outside the shop, to Cheeky Cholla who has a programmable LED wall that can kaleidoscope morph a live feed it’s attached to so attendees can interact and affect the art. We also host music, which sometimes we curate, or we will have a music collective take over and bring out their sound and roster. We host skit performances and even culinary arts, like Chezy Noodz, which is bike-powered man-n-cheese served out of a waffle cone.

Snood City was founded on art that comes off the wall and into the realm of interactive exchange so we aim to highlight that and give people that type of experience when they come to our spot.

DIY Tours Posting

“There are so many incredible DIY promoters, venues and collectives in the country and this Facebook community page of almost 30,000 people is incredibly helpful in connecting them. All you have to do is post something that looks like: “Hi, I’m _name_, and I am booking some dates for _band name(s)_. We need help with the dates below. Will happily return the favor in _hometown_! DATE 1 – [tentative location] DATE 2 – [tentative location] DATE 3 – [tentative location] [insert music links and relevant social media links]” and you’ll get in touch with other promoters, DIY spaces, bands, and musicians who will act as promoters and swap shows with you.”

60 NYC Showspaces That Closed in the 2010s

New York wouldn’t be New York without its creative community. And yet, even with this long-standing cultural identity, it’s incredibly difficult to open an event space with all the required licenses and permits. On top of this, New York’s rate of gentrification prices out venues and show-goers, creating a landscape where places open and close constantly. Thankfully, this doesn’t stop people from doing it anyway – most without a monetary goal in mind, creating spaces for the love of music, art, activism and bringing people together to party. As this decade comes to a close, it does feel like the assault on New York’s nightlife has become more severe, but like our beloved cockroaches and rats, DIY and the punk ethos are resilient. Here is a list of 60 show spaces – venues, bars, and community-run DIY spaces, that have closed their doors in the 2010s.

ABC No Rio (1980-2016, building new location)

The story of ABC No Rio offers some hope. After operating at their 156 Rivington Street location for more than 30 years as a community center for arts and activism with a show space, art gallery, zine library, darkroom, silk screening and computer lab facilities, ABC No Rio vacated their original location (which was demolished) and are building a new center. Over three decades, ABC No Rio cultivated the punk/hardcore scene in NYC with their Saturday matinee shows, and served as a home for organizations like Books Though Bars, the NYC Food Not Bombs Collective and COMA: The Citizens Ontological Music Agenda. ABC No Rio’s show space was entirely volunteer run and created a safe space at a time when punk and hardcore shows were so violent that other venues banned those genres.

This happy ending didn’t come easily. They fought legal battles from their inception on New Years Day 1980, when 30+ artists occupied the basement of an abandoned building with an art show that made a statement about NYC’s housing policies titled ‘The Real Estate Show.’ The show was raided by police, but the city negotiated and later gave the collective the storefront and basement of 156 Rivington Street. In 1994, when the city planned to sell the building, activists squatted in the vacant floors of the building, causing the eviction process to go on for years alongside protests and a petition to raise money and legitimize their collective. Ultimately, the city sold the building to ABC No Rio for $1 in 2006 in an agreement that the organization would bring the building up to code, requiring them to demolish and rebuild the structure.

Despite not having a current space, ABC No Rio volunteers “in exile” are continuing their programs at other venues. Their hardcore/punk collective books matinees at the People’s Forum, their Zine Library is now located at the Clemente, and their screen-printing shop is open every Thursday in Bushwick. Support the re-building of ABC No Rio by donating here, and visit their exhibit “No New Jails NYC – The Art & Design of a Movement” running through January 15th at MoRUS (155 Avenue C).

Big Snow Buffalo Lodge (2011-2013)

Run by Yoni David, Jeremy Aquilino, RJ Gordon, and Daniel Arnes, Big Snow Buffalo Lodge was located in Bushwick at 89 Varet Street at Graham Ave. Big Snow was entirely volunteer run (aside from hired security), and prided themselves on paying every band that played. The booking duties were shared between the founders, plus Luke Chiaruttini (before he left to focus on booking Shea Stadium full time). Ava Luna, Baked, Bueno, Lost Boy ?, Leapling, Celestial Shore, and The So So Glos were among the bands who frequented Big Snow, and the venue occasionally provided a space to record demos for bands as well. Big Snow unfortunately decided to close due to safety concerns after co-owner Yoni David was shot in the arm outside of the venue.

Cake Shop (2005-2016)

Opened by brothers Nick and Andy Bodor in 2005, Cake Shop was a long time staple stop for touring bands from all over the country and felt like the last cool place in Manhattan that your crappy lo-fi band could play at. My favorite part about Cake Shop was that they had vegan pastries and there was no cell service in the basement (sorry I missed your text asking for a list spot). Andy and Nick briefly opened a sister venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Bruar Falls from 2009-2011, which turned into Grand Victory (2012-2016). At their last show on NYE 2016, they talked about opening a new location, and in 2017 Andy opened a venue called Wonders of Nature at 131 Grand Street in Williamsburg.

Death By Audio (2007-2014)

Located at the Williamsburg waterfront on south 2nd and Kent in an old warehouse, Death By Audio was not only a venue, but also an effects pedal workshop, recording studio, record label, and living space. Originally founded in 2002 by Oliver Ackerman of A Place to Bury Strangers as a space to build his handmade effects pedals, with the help of Matt Conboy, they turned Death By Audio into a venue in 2007 that was booked by Edan Wilber. Bands that lived at the space included Grooms, Coin Under Tongue, Fuk Ton, Sister, The Immaculates, French Miami, Dirty on Purpose, Famous Amos and A Place to Bury Stangers. A fun fixture of their living space was a giant military surplus net that hung from the ceiling and connected to the lofts on the second floor, with a hammock hanging from the ceiling above it. In 2014, Vice bought the building to turn it into their headquarters, forcing DBA and Glasslands, who also shared the building, to move out. Death By Audio’s effects pedal factory moved to Ridgewood and still makes gear that’s used most notably by Nine Inch Nails, U2, Wilco and Lightning Bolt.

Matt Conboy directed the documentary “Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death By Audio,” that you can watch here, and Famous Class Records released a 26 track compilation of live bands recorded at DBA called Start Your Own Fucking Show Space including many of the bands who lived there, plus Deerhoof, Parquet Courts, Shellshag, Screaming Females, METZ, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and more.

photo by Walter Wlodarczyk

Glasslands Gallery (2006-2014)

Housed in the same building as Death By Audio on the Williamsburg waterfront, Glasslands Gallery was created by Brooke Baxter and Rolyn Hu, who owned the space until they sold it to PopGun’s Rami Haykal and Jake Rosenthal in 2012. Glasslands’ origin story begins in 2004 with Glass House, an experimental show graffiti covered warehouse space at 38 south 1st street in Williamsburg, run by Baxter and street artist Leviticus. When they moved into a larger space they renamed the venue Glasslands and from 2006-2012, the venue held some of the first shows for bands like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT and Dirty Projectors.

When ownership changed hands in 2012, Glasslands became a solid stop for touring bands such as Angel Olsen, FKA Twigs, and Grimes. Their signature clouds were installed above the stage, replaced at some point by a light installation made of plastic tubes (though I personally prefered the clouds). They booked more DJ nights and late night parties around this time, and their final show was New Years Eve 2014, closing out their run with the secret line-up of DIIV, Sky Ferrera, Smith Westerns (final show), and Beverly. Popgun Presents continued to book shows at other venues like (le) poisson rouge and Warsaw, until they opened their new, much larger space, Elsewhere, in 2017.

photo by Sophia Louise

Goodbye Blue Monday (2005-2014)

Named after a Kurt Vonnegut reference in “Breakfast of Champions,” Goodbye Blue Monday was opened by Steve Trimboli at 1087 Broadway in Bushwick in 2005, after he closing his previous bars Be Bop Cafe in Tribeca and Scrap Bar. Goodbye Blue Monday began as a cafe / junk shop of things that came “mostly from dead people” and soon turned into one of the most underrated music venues in Bushwick. Due to their free open booking policy, it was a venue where many musicians had their first show ever. They never took a cut from the door (if there was a cover), fed bands that were touring, and held ‘Teacup Tuesday’ open mics every week. Goodbye Blue Monday was the perfect space for NYC’s misfit musicians and those starting out who didn’t know enough people to be booked at a more curated DIY space. Trimboli sold the bar post-bankruptcy in 2010, but lived above the bar and set up a few crowdfunding campaigns to help save the space. Goodbye Blue Mondays closed in November 30, 2014 when their lease was about to end and the landlord tripled the rent. The Looking Glass Bar opened in its place, and Nyssa Frank at The Living Gallery took over hosting Goodbye Blue Monday: Tuesday Open Mic The Way Y’Like Open Mic.

Monster Island + Secret Project Robot: Kent Ave (2004-2011) / Secret Project Robot: Meserole Street (2011-2016) / Secret Project Robot: Broadway (2017-2019)

Founded by Rachel Nelson and Erik Zajaceskowski in 2004, Secret Project Robot is a not-for-profit artist run space that has lived in three locations and is currently looking for their next home. Before Secret Project Robot, there was Mighty Robot, a loft on Wythe Ave in Williamsburg run by Zajaceskowski, where they held art parties at the space as well as at the waterfront junkyards. Shows included large abstract visuals and hosted some of the first shows for the bands Liars, TV on the Radio, Lightning Bolt, Acid Mothers Temple, Panda Bear, and many more. In 2004, Zajaceskowski and Karl LaRocca found a larger, three-story space on Kent Avenue and named it Monster Island. The new building housed Kayrock Screenprinting, Live With Animals, Oneida’s O-Cropolis, Todd P’s rehearsal studio, and the new Mighty Robot space, then renamed Secret Project Robot. In this incarnation, Secret Project Robot teamed up with Rachel Nelson to focus on art installations and hosting events, including black light installations, drawing brunches, poster shows, and regular art shows along with their regular concerts. Monster Island was demolished in 2011 and was rumored to become a hair saloon, but the lot is still vacant.

Post-Monster Island in their “living art phase,” Secret Project Robot moved twice in Bushwick and created a bubble in their yard where artists could “recreate the world according to their liking, people could be free, comfortable and able to reimagine a further more perfect realm.” Rachel Nelson and Erik Zajaceskowski also founded Happy Fun Hideaway, a bar on Myrtle Ave in Bushwick, in 2013, and Flowers for all Occasions, a cafe/gallery/bar in 2015, both of which are still currently open!

Shea Stadium (2009-2017)

Shea Stadium was an all-ages venue founded in the spring of 2009 by producer Adam Reich and the band the So So Glos (who also helped build Market Hotel) with the mission to document the DIY scene by recording every set performed there. Nora Dabdoub and Luke Chiaruttini booked countless bands and the Shea Stadium website has over 1,000 sets archived, with the most popular including King Krule, FIDLAR, Frankie Cosmos, Wavves, Speedy Ortiz, and Diarrhea Planet. Their second floor loft at 20 Meadow Street in Bushwick felt like a second home for many artists, and when they were forced to close in March 2017 Aaron, Nora, and Luke launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised close to $100,000. Their landlord at Meadow street declined their request to re-open an up-to-code Shea in the original location, and they have been searching for a new home ever since. This has been a grueling task, with their last update explaining that they have “toured 30+ spaces, called hundreds of numbers and looked through thousands & thousands of real estate listings” so far, and as of “the second week of Sept 2019, we’re in negotiations on a space and if all continues to go well a lease could be in hand soon.” In the meantime, they are booking shows as Shea Stadium Presents. They recently hosted a benefit show at Trans Pecos for The Mark Fletcher Studio, a studio that will provide free analog studio time for musicians.


Silent Barn (2006-2018)

Silent Barn collective began in 2006 as a co-living space for artists in Ridgewood, Queens at 915 Wycoff (now the home of Trans-Pecos). They threw shows in their kitchen and basement (which was also a home for the video game collective Babycastles). When they were shut down due to coding issues in 2011, they launched a Kickstarter soon after that raised $40,000 to fund their move to a legal all-ages art space. In 2012 they moved to a three-story building at 603 Bushwick Avenue run by 70 volunteers, called “chefs.” The new location had a huge yard with a sculpture garden and a bar/cafe in their performance space, along with art spaces for Disclaimer Gallery, Casa Experimental, Vital Joint, the Title:Point theater company, Gravesend Recordings, Aftermath Supplies, and many other artist-in-residence studios who lived in the higher floors of the building. Educated Little Monsters (ELM), a program that provides “resources, artistic outlets and economic opportunity for youth of color,” particularly those who are local to the Bushwick neighborhood, met at Silent Barn since 2014.

When Silent Barn closed in 2018 due to financial strain, they felt a responsibility to help the ELM program find a new home with their community partners Bushwick Street Art, The Lab Recording Studio and Color Scenes. In their closing statement Silent Barn explained “Over the years, we’ve seen the role that D.I.Y. music venues play within the greater machine of gentrification, and how often the communities who would most benefit from these resources—the neighborhood’s native communities—are excluded from them entirely,” and encouraged their supporters to donate and become a supporting member of ELM.

The Glove (2016-2019)

The Glove was an all-ages experimental art space founded by a group of musicians and artists from a previous DIY space called Bohemian Grove. Along with their venue, the space had gallery exhibitions, a vintage shop, guitar shop, was home to the Bad Seeds by Stonie Clark hair salon, and a permanent psychedelic dungeon lounge art installation by ESTU Fabrication. Like many DIY spaces, The Glove fell into the bureaucratic hellhole of NYC coding laws, and temporarily shut down in 2018 after the city cut their power. They launched a GoFundMe and kept their doors open until their lease ended the summer of 2019, forcing them to close. Co-founder Dean Cercone, in an interview for Dazed, explained what so many other showspace owners feel: “Running a space like this in New York is as annoying as it is beautiful. As fruitful as it is scary. It takes precedence over a lot of things we do in our normal lives now.”

Every show space has a unique legacy. Support small and community run venues that are still open today & walk down memory lane with this list of 50 more spaces that have closed in the 2010s:

94 Evergreen (2012-2014)

285 Kent (2010-2014)

AVIV (2014-2016)

Body Actualized Center (2011-2014)

Brooklyn Bazaar (2011-2019)

Brooklyn Fireproof East (2006-2014)

Bruar Falls (2009-2011) / Grand Victory (2012-2016)

Cameo Gallery (2009-2015)

Cheap Storage (2010-2015)

Coco 66 (2009-2011)

Delinquency Blvd (2012-2012, re-opened as Sunnyvale in 2015)

Don Pedro’s (2001-2017)

Emet (2013-2014)

Fat Baby (2005-2017)

FreeCandy (2012-2015)

Galapagos Art Space (1995-2014: relocated to Detroit)

Hank’s Saloon (2005-2019)

IDIO Gallery (2014-2017)

Kings County Saloon (2006-2015)

Leftfield Bar (2012-2017)

Legion Bar (2005-2018)

Little Skips (2009-2019)

Living Bread Deli (2012-2013 renovated + reopened as Rosegold in 2017)

Lulus (2010-2014)

Manhattan Inn (2009-2016)

Market Hotel (2008-2010, reopened in 2015)

Matchless (2002-2017)

Nola, Darling (2014-2015)

Palisades (2014-2016)

Party Expo (2010-2013)

Passenger Bar (2013-2015)

Public Assembly (2008-2013) / Black Bear Bar (2014-2016)

Radio Bushwick (2010-2014)

Ran Tea House (2011-2014)

Santos Party House (2008-2016)

Showpaper 42nd street Gallery / Babycastles Arcade (2010-2011)

Sidewalk Cafe (1985-2019)

Spike Hill (2005-2014)

Suburbia (2011-2017)

Surreal Estate (2010-2011)

The Acheron (2010-2016)

The Continental (1991-2018)

The Flat (2012-2015)

The Gateway (2016-2018, re-opened as The Broadway in 2019)

The Hive (2011-2018)

The Living Room (1988-2015)

Tandem Bar (2008-2015)

Trash Bar (2010-2015)

Zebulon (2002-2012, re-located to LA 2017)

MORNING AFTER: Pinball and Miller High Life with Bethlehem Steel

I Googled how long it takes for milk to go sour, and unless Becca Ryskalczyk can chug a gallon in 2 hours and 45 minutes, I shouldn’t bring it as a gift. Granted, almost accidentally killing a musician would be such a throwback to when I started Morning After, and I do love things coming full circle. But the milk is supposed to be a gesture of good will, to replace the (benignly expired) bottle drained on New Years Eve for makeshift White Russians.

Becca is the leading lady of Bethlehem Steel. Her gift, heard best on Party Naked Forever, is in utilizing a light and sweet voice for a kaleidoscope of emotions. “Deep Back” breaks my heart, “Untitled Entitlement” pretty much captured the current national mood of seething anger and disgust (and the line “sometimes I can’t tell if I’m real anymore” gutted me on a personal level). And yet there’s no fear in raging, either; Bethlehem Steel’s landscape of sound is both fuzzy and ferocious, delicate and dangerous, as all good things should be.

Truth be told, tho, Becca stuck in my mind as a good subject for this column after an encounter at a party in October (she came highly recommended by Jordyn Blakely). And because, in a weird twist of fate, it was in her apartment that I ended 2017. And what was 2017 but the year of a kaleidoscope emotions?

So once again, I find myself braving the (milkless) Brooklyn tundra at the dawn of a new year.

THE SCENE: Becca shows up to Sunshine Laundromat wearing pants-on-pants, a pink Northface (her first, despite misgivings from her SUNY Fredonia days), and excuses herself to glitter-up with one of those Fenty Stix. I’ve never been here, but the flickering pinball-arcade-slash-bar-slash-literal laundromat is her favorite spot.

I grab some sort of holiday ale (I don’t want the holidays to end) in the meantime. It’s, tbh, super late in the afternoon but these days my mornings have started later and later. Plus I brought a scone from Starbucks, so as far as I’m concerned this is a canon breakfast.

When Becca gets back I learn that she’s big, big, big on pinball – it gives her some respite. A while ago she quit smoking, which gave her an out from social interactions that went on too long. “And now I just find the pinball machine in the bar,” she explains later.

I try to be a gentleman and ask what machine is her favorite (Jurassic Park is good; The Big Lebowski is like her White Whale because it’s always out of order). But then, I see it.



4:33 I suck at the Addams Family so we try our luck with Elvira next door and I ask about New Years Day. “How was clean-up the next day?”

She smiles.”I don’t know – I was working. I got home and my apartment was clean. It was magical.”

“So magical! I only got to see two rooms but I liked the entire wall that had streamers.”

“Oooh, it’s down,” she says.

My face drops. “What happened?”

“It was smelling really weird, and then it dyed our wall blue.”

“Was it like, dollar store streamers?” I ask, as if 75% of my apartment isn’t a collection of Dollar Tree finds.

“It was. It was definitely smelling like a dollar store and making me feel sick and sneeze a lot.” That’s fair; sometimes beautiful things can be toxic and wall-damaging.

We suck a little bit less at Elvira, and that’s a huge comfort.

5:08 Meanwhile, at the Jurassic Park machine we talk about resolutions and maybe Jeff Goldblum a bit (“So hot.” “SO HOT.”)

She mulls over her wish for 2018 as a plastic raptor pops its head up for a charming shriek. “I want to be…less anxious.”

“Do you have a plan of attack with that? Because I haven’t found one for my anxiety yet.”

Becca’s idea is more about streamlining her responsibilities, rather than spreading herself too thin. “Maybe I just should be doing less,” she ponders. “Just not taking on a lot of unnecessary things, like ‘I need to plan three things all at the same time.’ And then it’s just TOO much. Or ‘I need to be social’ but really I just want to eat stew and watch The Office.”

Word. “That sounds like a perfect life plan and anyone who loved you would not keep you from doing that.”

The secondary goal is to get more into make-up, and she’s currently obsessing over Rihanna’s line.

“It’s the galaxy palette, look at that shit,” Becca says, gleefully pulling up the sparkling polychrome on her phone.

I do my best raptor impression in response. “That’s fucking gorgeous.”

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Courtesy of Instagram

“I know.” She goes back to the Goldblum-sanctioned game.

“Wait, which color do you want the most? Gun to your head? If you could only have one.”

“The blue,” she says decisively, and I look back at the pallette.

“The dark or the light?”

“Fuck, the light,” she says, almost panicked as she taps on the side buttons. “The light right now.”

I look through Rihanna’s collection through the spiderweb of Becca’s iPhone screen, feeling highly uncertain I could ever pull off a seaweed-colored mouth.

“You can wear green lipstick if you want,” Becca says encouragingly. Apparently getting into cosmetics is sort of a new-old thing; she was all about covering her face in her teen years, and then entered a make-up sabbatical. She had this epiphany where she thought, “Why the fuck do I need to wear this?” But once the “need” was taken out of the question she was firmly in the camp of “This is so much fun!”

“Before I would wear it because I was really self-conscious. Like I’d wear concealer and eyeliner and I couldn’t leave the house without my nails painted,” she explains. “And something flipped. So now that that’s behind me and I want to go all the fuck out there for ME. There isn’t any anxiety of, ‘Oh I can’t let anybody see me without eyeliner on.'”

And that’s the right reason to wear make-up. It’s what Rihanna would want.

5:46 At this point I’m onto another Holiday Ale and Becca’s getting reflective over her Miller High Life. It’s a tough subject: the loss of Shea Stadium. I know, I know, we’re all still fucked up about it. But she grew with it as a sound intern, then worked there, and even practiced in the venue.

“It was really special. I left for a year to go to Vermont to build this camper house and then with the last days I was on tour. I missed… everything. But I was building this fucking house to live outside of Shea.” She laughs half-heartedly. “It’s so crazy, it’s so sad.”

Her own emotional kaleidoscope shifted from being upset to getting angry. “I went into Henry Rollins mode and was like ‘Everyone in fucking Williamsburg can all get fucked, fuck this, fuck that guy, let’s destroy the world.'” (Split second pause.) “In a positive, ‘Keep DIY alive sort of way.'” She’s still great at capturing the collective mood, though.

“I think I definitely just kind of repressed a lot of Shea things because I left,” she says. “I had my nights while I was on tour… like I was playing shows and going to National Parks. And one night I found myself in a field of wild sage -”

Where did you find a field of wild sage?” I ask, incredulous, almost dropping my ale. “Where did you go where that was a thing?”

She pages through her memory. “Arizona…? It was some government public land spot. And I just remembered taking a ton of it. I was making these cartinis which were just warm gin and warm olives.”

“I love gin but I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“I made like a huge one in my plastic cup. And I picked up all this sage and was throwing it into a fire. And that was the last night of Shea and I couldn’t be there,” she concludes.

There’s something charming about the off-beat ritual. We all say good bye to things in different ways.

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Relevant found items from scenic Mary Grace’s room.

Speaking of which, fuck, I need to say goodbye. I eat my cranberry scone on my trip home, the sky pitch black above me. When I get home my NYE dress is still brightly ultraviolet on my floor, the brocade remnant of 2017: the year of a kaleidoscope emotions.

Wanna know a non-secret? I’m a big, big advocate for expressing those blue and red toned feelings, turning it into art, or having it fuel a story. But I also love being able to be naked with someone, emotionally naked, not just in a boned-all-night-to-Belle-and-Sebastian kind of way. This scene, at its most earnest, bonds people together into this drunken web of catharsis. And among all the loss and chaos, that was the bittersweet revelation of at the end of 2017.

Not everything that ends has to go sour, because you can always take that leftover pain and turn it into something wonderful to share with someone. You can throw out those beautiful, lethal streamers and finally feel like you can breathe. You can pick up a make-up brush again for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

Not every ending is an ending. Sometimes it’s an evolution.

You can listen to Bethlehem Steel on Bandcamp and follow them on Facebook.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

NEWS ROUNDUP: Goodbye Shea, Spotify Sponsorship & More

  • Shea Stadium Officially Closes

    All we’ll have left of 20 Meadow Street is fond memories, and the new nightclub that the landlord wants to open to replace the beloved DIY venue. Shea Stadium was going to have a few more closing events, but yesterday posted on Facebook that “It now seems impossible to have any more events no matter how small.” The owners raised quite a bit of money on Kickstarter, and hopefully they’ll find a new space to hold Shea Stadium soon.

  • Get Ready For Sponsored Songs On Spotify

    Sponsored content: it’s on your Instagram feed, in your television shows, and in the articles you read (buy Sprite! Just kidding, drink water). Now Spotify treads tricky payola territory by announcing that it will let labels and other entities pay money to have certain songs featured in their wildly popular curated playlists without mentioning that the content is sponsored. TechCrunch reports that the streaming service has already been testing it out on users who don’t pay the monthly subscription fee, though there’s an option to turn off that feature; meanwhile, Liz Pelly’s in-depth, must-read report on The Secret Lives of Playlists ruminates on what the pay-to-play model means for indie labels, among other issues.

  • SXSW Supports Austin’s immigrants

    After the previous controversy over the immigration language used in SXSW contracts, the festival organizers have expressed their support for the lawsuit Austin is filing against the state of Texas. The lawsuit is in protest of Senate Bill 4, which forbids sanctuary cities like Austin. Though they were asked to move the festival to a different city until it was resolved, SXSW CEO Roland Swenson stated that they would “continue to make our event inclusive while fighting for the rights of all.” San Antonio and Dallas are pursuing similar lawsuits. 

  • Other Highlights

    RIP Prodigy, listen to the new Sleater-Kinney/R.E.M. supergroup, a cassette tape caused a New Zealand bomb scare, get ready for a new Foo Fighters album,  this article is kind of blaming Taylor Swift for the death of electric guitars for some reason, Gene Simmons is abandoning his quest to trademark the “rock” gesture, and once again, WTF, Spotify?

NEWS ROUNDUP: Prince EP, Shea Stadium Updates & More

  • Shea Stadium Update: Venue Needs New Location

    The team behind the venue announced an unfortunate setback to their efforts to go legit: they can’t file their first round of paperwork because the landlords at 20 Meadow Street have refused to sign the documents. In lieu of a vibrant DIY space, they plan to turn the ground club of the building into a nightclub. You can read the whole announcement here. Aren’t landlords great?

    You can still donate Shea Stadium’s Kickstarter fund. If a new space can’t be found, the team has stated they will refund donators’ money.

  • A Year After Prince’s Death, New Music Causes Controversey

    An unreleased EP titled Deliverance was scheduled for Friday, but as of now it appears the Prince estate has blocked its release. A judge has issued a restraining order which prevents producer George Ian Boxill from releasing any new music, and requiring him to give the recordings to the late musician’s estate. According to Billboard, however, you can still buy the EP’s single, also called “Deliverance.” Read more about the issue here.

  • Eskimeaux Announce Name Change

    Gabrielle Smith, who performs under the moniker Eskimeaux, announced she would be changing her name after Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq pointed out its offensive implications. The new name will be Ó. Smith released a statement via Pitchfork that read, in part, “As an adopted person I’ve struggled with finding an identity… The only information I have about my birth parents is that my birth father is Tlingit and everywhere I looked for more information the word “eskimo” was commonplace. Talking to Tanya about this was what ultimately helped me make up my mind to change the band name. She and I have had really different struggles, but they don’t serve to diminish one another.” In case you’re wondering, the new name will be pronounced like the letter.

  • Littlefield Is Moving, But Just Around The Corner

    The Gowanus venue will be moving to a nearby space with an outdoor area and bar and restaurant called Parklife. It’s set to open in June, with a Kickstarter fund currently underway to help with expenses. When the space is completed, the staff promise we can “expect friendly staff, signature cocktails, and recycled materials that make up the physical space.”

  • Other Highlights

    RIP Bruce Langhorne, aka Mr. Tambourine Man & Allan Holdsworth, Tyler The Creator wrote the new Bill Nye theme song, Babymetal’s very specific music festival, introducing flute rap(?!), this guy ate a record because of Kendrick Lamar, Pearl Jam teams up with Ticketmaster, is the new Katy Perry for real, & Elliot Smith + brunch = ?

NEWS ROUNDUP: Shea Stadium, Northside Festival & More

  • Shea Stadium Is Raising Money To Reopen

    Shea Stadium, after closing to avoid fines and fees “related to the legal use, zoning and licensing of [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the] building,” is on its way to reopening in a more legal, permanent manner. As of today, the DIY venue has raised tens of thousands more than the original goal of $50,000. The money will go towards things such as: renovations to pass inspections, building fees, fire safety training, bar permits and legal fees. Just because they’ve reached the goal doesn’t mean you can’t still donate! Support New York’s DIY scene and check out their Kickstarter page here.

  • Northside Festival Lineup Announced

    This year, the festival will take over Brooklyn from June 7-11 and so far, performers include Dirty Projectors, Miguel, Kamasi Washington, Julia Holter, Girlpool, the Hotelier, Downtown Boys, Lower Dens, Ricky Eat Acid and Vagabon. More details here.

  • Watch A Music Video That’s Different Every Time

    Via Engadget: The UK band Shaking Chains has created an algorithm that makes their music video different every time you watch it. The band members chose predetermined keywords that the algorithm uses to select clips of footage from, and then assembles them randomly every time someone watches the video. Why make a video this way? Band member Jack Hardwick stated,”I sought to obliquely reframe the stuff we subject ourselves to (whether beautiful, distressing, mundane, frivolous or eroticized) and algorithmically cut them into a new context.” Check out the video and see what it plays you here.

  • Other Highlights

    The problem with Ed Sheeran, RIP Chuck Berry, Thurston Moore releases “Smoke Of Dreams,” Marissa Nadler’s contribution to the 100 Days Project, Future Islands share sign language lyric video for “Cave,” and new music from Perfume Genius and Gorillaz.



NEWS ROUNDUP: NYC’s Music Industry “Thriving,” SXSW Updates & More

  • Shea Stadium Closes Again

    The venue cited “increasing pressure from the local authorities” and the fines that come along with getting permits to keep the beloved DIY venue open as the reason for closing again. The Facebook post that broke the news stated the team behind Shea Stadium hoped to reopen as soon as possible. The venue’s troubles started in January, when a show was raided by police and the venue closed for a short period of time. Unfortunately, this bit of news segues right into our next item…

  • NYC Mayor Investigation Finds Small Venues Threatened

    Meanwhile, a study conducted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed the thriving economic presence of the music industry in The Big Apple, one that generated $21 billion in 2015 and employs over 30,000 of its denizens, particularly through digital music services and start-ups. This was enough for the some to declare NYC the music capital of the world. But that same study warns that the city’s smaller venues, DIY spaces and artists who frequent them instead of major, corporate venues remain vulnerable, while conveniently forgetting to omit that their permit procedures and strict enforcement of policies are directly responsible for the threat. Read the full report here.

  • SXSW Removes Immigration Language From Contract

    Last week, the music industry was in an uproar over a deportation clause in South By Southwest’s performers contract that threatened international artists with being turned over to the immigration authorities and getting their passports revoked for as little as playing an unofficial SXSW show. A petition was quickly started by Told Slant (who first tweeted about the language in the contract), Priests, Downtown Boys, and many other musicians voicing protest over the policy. After skirting the issue with poor excuses, SXSW apologized and promised to remove the deportation clause. From the writers of the petition: “We applaud SXSW’s decision to stand with immigrants and against ICE, and are thrilled that collective action from musicians has worked to push a massive institution into taking a principled stand on an issue with ramifications far beyond next week’s festival in Austin.” The musical portion of the festival starts next week.

  • Other Highlights

    Listen to Kim Gordon & Mikal Cronin’s anti-Trump song, Chance The Rapper donated a ton of money to Chicago schools, Happy 50th Birthday to The Velvet Underground & Nico, a tech company has an interesting way to influence your fetus’s musical tastes, and there’s a rare, $400,000 guitar burning holes in bidders’ pockets on Ebay.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Prince, The Grammys & More

  • Prince’s Music Is Now Streaming

    It’s something that was impossible just a week ago: As I write this, I’m listening to Around The World In A Day on Spotify. Prince’s music was formerly streaming only on Tidal, but his estate sued to release it on other streaming services starting last Sunday. On one hand, it’s nice to have easy access to such an iconic artist. But on the other, Prince was notorious for maintaining complete control over how his music was released and distributed as well as made, so it’s hard not to wonder what he’d think of all this.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Bandcamp Donates to ACLU, Shea Stadium & More

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Courtesy of

  • Today, 100% of Bandcamp Proceeds Go To ACLU

    While many artists are already pledging that the profits from their album purchase will be donated to a charity, Bandcamp has one-upped them all (not that philanthropy is a contest, because as long as people are contributing, everybody wins). Today, any proceeds the website makes will go to the ACLU. So get online, buy some great music, and support one of the most important organizations ever!

  • Musical Responses To The #MuslimBan

    Last Friday Trump signed an executive order forcing airports to detain and deport immigrants and refugees entering from seven Muslim-majority countries, regardless of their immigration status. Protestors, lawyers and the taxi drivers weren’t having it. Neither were many musicians, who responded in various ways. Grimes and Sia announced they would match donations made to the Council on American-Islam Relations and the ACLU. Ethically questionable ride-share app Uber turned off surge pricing during a JFK taxi strike protesting the ban, which many interpreted as a way to profit from the taxi drivers’ act of solidarity. In response, “Uber Everywhere” artist Madeintyo said he would be switching to Lyft.

    As for actual music, Spotify compiled a playlist of 20 songs from artists who were once refugees, including Queen, Regina Spektor, M.I.A and the Fugees. We also recommend NPR’s Music In Exile series, which tells the stories of musicians who are refugees.

  • Shea Stadium Begins To Relocate Shows

    With several events abruptly canceled thanks to police and fire departments raids, the DIY venue in industrial Bushwick is closing, hopefully temporarily. The venue’s Facebook page states: “In the face of recent challenges we’ll be dark for the next two weeks as we restructure and plan for the future.” Scheduled shows are being postponed and/or relocated to nearby venues, such as The Gateway, Silent Barn and Trans-Pecos. 2016 took a lot of important venues away; hopefully Shea Stadium won’t be 2017’s first casualty.

  • Other Highlights

    Bey is having twins, RIP Geoff Nicholls of Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop contributes spoken word to the new PINS EP, Listen to Future Islands’ new song “Ran” and Blondie’s new song “Fun,” Beach House are releasing a b-sides compilation and touring, and whether you hate or love football, check out this alternate Super Bowl performance featuring the feline version of Lady Gaga.

INTERVIEW/EP REVIEW: The Adventures Of The Silver Spaceman


The thought of an adventuring spaceman evokes images of daring travels and wild adventures. But in Zach Ellis’s world, the distance of space is an opportunity for some serious reflection. You can see the whole world from space, and at the moment, the world doesn’t look that great. That gives an ominous tone to The Adventures Of The Silver Spaceman‘s latest release, Electric Earth. It opens with the title track, a song that quickly gains momentum with rapid-fire lyrics and snaking guitar lines that feel as though they’re pulling you down a dark, twisting hallway. Well- placed dissonance creates a visceral sense of unease. But, the dark vibes are balanced out with gentler moments like “Expulsion,” a soaring, hopeful track with brimming space and self-awareness. We spoke to Zach about the recording process, how Electric Earth was inspired by the current times and, of course, space.

AUDIOFEMME: I really love the production on this EP, especially when it comes to the vocals. Can you give us some insights into the recording process?

ZACH: Thanks so much! The recording process on this record was by far the simplest we’ve ever done. You can partially thank Amy Schumer for that. We booked an all day session at Studio G in Greenpoint with my engineer Andy Swerdlow, but the session got turned into a half day because apparently, she needed to do a last minute voice over session for her show. So we ended up cranking out the whole EP in the latter half of the day thinking maybe we’d book another half day to finish, but we ended up not needing it. It took about 6 hours. We did it live. It’s really the antithesis of my earlier work… I used to record everything myself and add layer upon layer and get super anal about editing to sound just right. This record is super raw.

I did a few vocal passes into a U47 with a little slap echo in the monitor and that was pretty much it. It was so awesome recording into that mic. Andy, our engineer, says it’s the best mic in the world.

Andrew Bailey, who plays in DIIV, was with us during the session and I asked him if he’d want to add to the madness at the end of “Breath of Fire” and he was super into it. He’s since joined the band.

I sense a dystopian vibe to the whole EP, but particularly the first song, “Electric Earth.” Can you tell me the message behind the song, and what inspired the lyrics?

So glad you’re paying attention. Yes, Electric Earth is kind of my personal mantra for navigating a dystopian world. Things are so crazy right now. We’ve literally got villains in towers with henchmen. Money is controlling everything and in the hands of complete sociopaths who are deciding what we eat and how we interact with each other. It’s hard to navigate and real easy to lose touch entirely.  It’s so easy to live in a bubble where the climate is controlled by corporate media and lose touch with the reality of what we as humans are meant to be experiencing. But, eventually, the bubble is going to pop. The music is about staying in touch with what’s important and real through it all… physically, emotionally and mentally remaining sharp and connected to mother nature. 

Your release show was also a benefit for Standing Rock. Do you have any thoughts about the situation over there?

So many thoughts and feelings. This nation has been so unkind to its indigenous peoples. And after sweeping them under the rug by pushing them to the far corners of the United States, we now want to destroy the little bit of land we left them by installing a pipeline to transport a completely unsustainable energy source from one place to another? For what? So the filthy rich oil barrens can die alone in their mansions leaving their children a big house in a broken world. We need to learn from indigenous people now more than ever. We need to live in harmony with each other and with the land. I want to do what I can through music. 

Your bio states that you’ve been compared to “Steve Malkmus and the Jicks, Nick Cave, and a millennial Neil Young.” Do these artists reflect your musical influences? 

Steve Malkmus and the Jicks/Pavement are actually a relatively new trip for me, which a lot of people find hard to believe. Nick Cave as well. He scares me; I love it. Neil Young is a huge, huge influence. I learned a lot about how to use my voice through his songs and in my opinion he’s one of the most prolific, badass artists alive. As far as other influences, Fugazi sets me free [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][and] Gang of Four, Television, Explosions in the Sky,  Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Tom Waits, Antony and the Johnsons and Joanna Newsom. 

I tend to listen to mostly friends music. They’re the real influence. Sir Kn8, Hila the Killa, Lost Boy, Sam Yield, Yairms, Pecas, Parnhash and Coe, Nic Lawless. There’s so many incredible artists just out there relentlessly making quality stuff outside of the mainstream. Listen to these artists!

If you could go to space, would you do it? Which planet would you choose?

Of course! Me and my dear friend Sir Kn8 are already planning a kickstarter campaign to record a record out there. Neptune would be cool because it isn’t made mostly out of ice!

Electric Earth was released on 12/2. Check out the EP below![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

PREVIEW: Omni @ Shea Stadium & Mercury Lounge 8/20-8/21


Atlanta-based indie-rock band Omni are playing two shows in the New York area this weekend.

Sat. Aug. 20 || Shea Stadium purchase tickets here.

Sun. Aug. 21 || Mercury Lounge purchase tickets here.

The band was started by guitarist Frankie Broyles, and former Carnivores members, vocalist/bassist Philip Frobos, and drummer Billy Mitchell. Their debut album Deluxe is chock-full of tightly wound, lo-fi guitar jams that channel the late 70s and early 80s.

Omni brings you back to an era where any sane person was reeling from the unfulfilled promise of the Space Age and the looming threat of “Morning in America.” It pushes the roots of rock & roll to its limits, still remaining in vogue. Deluxe serves as a fresh reminder that rock music can work outside of blues rooted, formulaic progressions without playing it safe behind a wall of effects.

Check out Omni’s rad visuals for “Wire” below.