Archive for the ‘Music Venues’ Category

Music Venue Review: Brooklyn Beauty Bar

April 4, 2010

Nice lookin' place, eh?

I really gotta say it pains me to make this review. This review is personal and my own personal dealings have effected my review so I will do my best to not go off on a rant. So here it goes.

The Beauty Bar in itself is a chain venue. There are quite a few throughout the United States. There are two here in New York City, one in Austin, two more in California, and I think one in Vegas. Its a very clever idea: take an old beauty parlor and turn it into a bar. At least thats how it started. I dont believe the newer ones are old hollowed out beauty salons but they have the cool 1960’s and 1970’d salon decor which is cool. The chairs have the hair dryers on them, the lights by the bar are old school hair dryers, its all very hip looking. The bar also has downright amazing happy hour prices. Here in New York City a red bull and vodka can go between 8 to 12 bucks but at happy hour its only 4 bucks there. I mean, if you are a New Yorker, thats fucking cheap!

As for a music venue… ok. So the owner or wannabe owner (I really dont know what that dude is to be honest) was a genuinely nice guy who really wants to have live performers at his venue. Extremely open to ideas and what not. The problem is, it was very clear that this venue is mainly a place for djs to perform and not accustomed to dealing with live acts. There is no sound guy so musicians are on their own when it comes to figuring out how to set up their sound. The stage is extremely small right by the front door and your back is toward the window. That in itself to me is not a bad thing though. I like playing by the window cuz it draws a crowd. Its funny seeing some guy just walking down the street then stop in his tracks, stare really close up into the window, and then start jamming, then walk away like nothing happened haha. Its cool. This venue is best for musicians who are acoustic but yes some full bands perform but the whole band cant be on the stage, the drums would take up about 60% of the space.

So let me figure out how to say this:

Ok if you are musician trying to book a gig. I highly suggest… no. See they primarily tend to seek out people willing to book the entire night. I personally love that idea. It guarantees at least SOMEONE going to your show, whether its one person or 30 people. Plus your friends are there and its comfortable to have fellow musicians supporting you. Does it work out that way all the time? No but still its a good idea and we were down for it. However Beauty Bar really didnt handle this the right way. Initially it went great. However, the “Owner” who booked us to book the shows NEVER paid us, except in drink tickets, never really promoted our shows the way they promoted their other nights, and was really not good at calling people back. I mean if you want stuff done you have to step up and do your job and he was really unavailable. He also didnt know how to interract with musicians. If you own a venue and you happen to NOT enjoy the person performing, you make note and decide whether or not you will have them back. However, you DONT go up to them and tell them to leave. Especially if you had a draw of people and they all end up leaving WITH you. I mean thats just not a way to make money. Also if there are problems you dont leave your bartenders in charge. They arent sound technicians either and there is always going to be miscommunication. I found it funny that once we actually started drawing in a crowd the bartenders started giving us an attitude after generally being really great with us. They expected us to do the job of a sound guy and tried to bring up “professionalism” when they pay us in alcohol. They are not on the ball with scheduling either. They booked a dj at an hour when we still had a band going on and we were not notified yet expected to cancel their set which was highly unacceptable nor professional. It ended in drama which of course anyone who SHOULD be in charge was NOT there to monitor or control.

If its just you thats performing, then I guess its worth taking a chance and performing but not once a week like we did. Eventually that bridge burns through bad management.

However, if you are a patron who just wants to hear some good music and have cheap drinks and dont mind going to a slowly gentrifying area thats not the nicest of areas but still halfway decent (the JMZ to Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick) then feel free to stop on by. The happy hour bartender, Rose, is a sweetie. The after hours bartender Ashley, is a bitch. You can get on her good side but I found it tiring to figure out when that would be.

Beauty Bar – Brooklyn

February 11, 2010

I swear its a bar... no really!

So this is where we got a residency.

Oh wait. Did I tell you guys about this? Ahh ok let me explain:

So a few weeks ago, Jay and I decided we needed to do some research on venues for us to play at. Now, Jay and I are in the band, The JSE and we want to perform but Jay also does solo shows as well. He’s played The Delancey in NYC a couple of times solo but eventually I would go up on stage to accompany him on backing vocals. Well now its Jay and Nat at these type of shows. Its more like rehearsal and experimentation since Jay has sooooo many awesome songs that either don’t fit his other projects or are new enough that they need to be tested or just tried out in front of an audience.

So I was contacting venues in general for both Jay and Nat and The JSE. One venue I contacted was one I didnt know much about: Beauty Bar.

I checked out the website, http://www.beautybar.com/brooklyn/home.html

I realized they were a chain venue that had bases in NY, Cali, and Texas. Originally salons that were hollowed out and became bars, they usually have djs, cool happy hour deals, and a really cool decor that highlights the allure of salons from the 60’s and 70s.

I also contacted a few other places including Arlene’s Grocery, and other places I cant seem to remember for some reason.

Within AN HOUR of my email to Beauty Bar, I got a response asking what we were looking to do. Eventually one of the owners, Dave, contacted me and asked if I was interested in booking Jay and I for a residency. Every Thursday night for the month of February.

I was so shocked. I mean they never heard of us and they never heard us sing but were willing to give us one day a week for a month.

Now its not just Jay and I performing on Thursday nights. There’s more to it. Beauty Bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn wanted Jay to fill the entire night. So its not just Jay and Nat. Its Jay and Nat and a bunch of our friends. Its actually a really fun plan. I truly feel honored to know so many talented musicians and Jay knows even more so we have tons to get to perform with us on a weekly basis. This passed Thursday night it was Jay and Nat, Aviv and…. uhh I dont know the bass player’s name, Martin and Ben, Phil and Seaflux, Guitar Bomb, and then a few djs.

Now here are some of the setbacks of the place but honestly they arent drastic:
1. The stage is small so a huge a big band can’t play
2. Its a bar so no one under 21, two band mates of The JSE are 18 and 20 respectively so they cant come out
3. The bar is not equipped for such things. No sound guy. They do want to go the route of having more live acts so thats great they just dont know much about it.
4. Because its such a bar and not live band venue, loud acts have to stop by 11pm.
5. The door doesnt close behind you. You have to close it yourself so it tends to be cold in there since most people dont close the door behind them and the stage is right by the door and window.

Those are actually the only things that arent perfect but some work out in a good way. Like the fact that the stage is by the window makes people stop and look at whats going on, which then makes them come in and have a drink and listen to some new music. Even though we have to book until like 345 am, ending the bigger band gigs by 11pm leaves time to recup and enjoy the venue for what it is, a bar.

Sooooo Jay and Nat (thats Jay and Me btw) are performing yet again this week. We are playing with the band Seaflux opening, our friend Ethan Donway from The False Alarms, Aviv from Widest Smile Faces, and Joe Cantor. The night starts at 8pm and continues until 3:45am. Its a free show as well. How kick ass is that???
Get there by 7 ish cuz its happy hour and the drinks are cheeeeeeeeeap! omg the cheapest around, Im not even joking. Jay kept on getting red bull and vodka for 4 bucks. FOUR BUCKS? Where have you heard that for red bull and vodka ever?

So to review:

8pm Seaflux
9pm Ethan Donway
10pm Jay and Nat
11pm Aviv
12am Joe Cantor
1am and on, djs will be playing.

Come on out if you can, its really easy too. Just take the J train to Myrtle Ave/Broadway. Once you get off the train its within a block away. Not even.

Check out the website!

Amanda Palmer Concert In review……

November 16, 2009
IMG_3054

A Good Show Deserves a Bow!

Ok so this is how it started:

The ticket said 8 pm. I got there around 7:45. There, would be The Music Hall of Williamsburg. If ya love Bowery Ballroom, you will looooove this place! They don’t let you go to the stage area until 8pm. I thought that was a cool idea. Since I was one of the last people to get there, I was closest to the doors therefore I got to the stage first. I was right up front and rested my arms on the stage when I looked to the side and notices a few steps and a side barricade. I then figured, “Hey, you are by yourself and non confrontational therefore, you will get pushed off and cut in front of and probably be uncomfortable” plus Jay told me that was the best spot in the house. He was correct. I was above most of the crowd, had a place to lean, no one in front of me and close to the stage.

So 8pm, nothing. 8:30. Still nothing. Finally at 9pm, Amanda comes out and introduces the opening band The Nervous Cabaret. I honestly think that was an extremely wise decision since people were getting restless. If they came out by themselves there was a good chance they would have been booed or something cuz people wanted Amanda at this point. So it was great cuz we saw her, she told us to love them, and omg did we ever!

I dunno how to explain them. They are a New York based band but the lead singer is a Cockney. It was kinda like ska but with funk and swing mixed in. Would I listen to their stuff on a cd? Probably not but omg they are an awesome live band!! I had sooo much fun listening to them. Plus I do have a thing for bands with brass sections.

So they were done before 10 and at 10:15 we hear a marching drum in the back of the room. We then see a trumpet and a band coming through the back of the crowd. Omg The Nervous Cabaret not only were the opening act, they were Amanda’s backing band!!! In the middle of them there was Amanda!

They opened with Missed Me from The Dresden Dolls. It was awesome. Amanda sounds great with this band.

She did a mix of her solo songs with Dresden songs, some old cabaret standards. A really sad song about a woman growing up and missing her mom now that shes gone. It made me cry. She did a funny song about a pirate too.

It wasnt just a regular concert though. Amanda read snippets from her boyfriend Neil Geiman’s book titled Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Its a really cool book that I totally need to get. Its basically a photo book of Amanda dead in different scenarios and stories that go along with the pictures. She read a story about a guy in a hot air balloon with his girlfriend and he was typing a novel with a typewriter and the picture is Amanda in a field with a typwriter on her head and groceries to the side.It was cute.

She also did a question and answer period. I was bummed because I found out there was a fishbowl where people could submit questions and had I known I would have put in a few haha. She answered about 4 which was awesome.

Also during the tour, at every show she has artists doing drawings and painting during the concert. Towards the end of the show, she auctions them off. Well there were two artists and both paintings went for 300 each! Pretty damn nifty.

She had two guest performers with her but dammit I cant remember their names. There was a dude on an accordion and then this guy Seth something who is the Carrot Top of music! He had this suitcase of weird instruments and would play them. He was really cool! He played a song with Nervous Cabaret and came back and did a few with Amanda and the band.

They covered House of the Rising sun, Kid Sic (I THINK thats the name of the lead singer of Nervous Cabaret) duetted with Amanda it was awesome.

They also covered…. That Ting Tings song “Thats Not My Name” .

Ok, I cant stand this song. It annoys the hell out of me. I think its cuz the band I just dont get and it sucks with just her and a drummer or whatever.

When Amanda and the band started doing this song omg, I didnt even realize it was the song at first! It sounds sooooo amazing with a band and brass section! They did such an amazing job that I now love this song! Dammit! I didnt want to now I do!

At the end Amanda said she and Neil Geiman would be signing the book in the back. I wanted to go but omg I was so sick by this point. I felt lousy for the passed few days but I was determined to have fun and did! However as much as I wanted to get a pic with Amanda I couldnt. I am still wishing I did though. However!!! As I was leaving through the side door I passed the main entrance and what do I see?

Amanda on the shoulders of a tall blonde man with a HUGE crowd around her while she plays a ukulele singing a song. It was so awesome see?

IMG_3055

Amanda in front of the venue

I truly wish I could get a better shot. My camera sucks and it just was NOT agreeing with me that night.

Ugh, Amanda, you rule! There is no debate! Rock on!

Be warned

November 15, 2009

I went to see Amanda Palmer play the Music Hall of Williamsburg. This will require a blog. This is your warning. Carry on.

I Should Start Reviewing Venues: Trash Bar

July 15, 2009
Trash Bar

Trash Bar

So, it dawned on me whilst waiting to see The False Alarms, http://www.myspace.com/thefalsealarmsband , that I go to plenty of performance venues. Some are awesome, some suck.

So I figured I would start with the venue I recently went to, Trash Bar.

Trash Bar is on Grand Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Predominantly a punk/metal bar, it has a stage in the back room and have performers every night.

The ambiance goes with the name: Trash. Xmas lights adorn the black ceiling and band stickers coat the red walls and whatever art or music pieces that were on the wall first. I’ve got some pro’s and cons to this place so here we go:

Pro’s:
1. It is the essence of hardcore cool.
2. I miss CBGBS and this KIIIINDA reminds me of it.
3. They have some kick ass happy hour deals
4. It is sooo easy for me to get there from Rego Park. Just one bus and it drops me off right across the street.
5. Pool Table.
6. Decent Sized Stage and Audience space
7. The new sound guy is very nice and accommodating to bands

Con’s:
1. The sound equipment has just been updated but seriously the quality still needs work.
2. It is a trek for most people. I seriously think I just lucked out on a Brooklyn Venue. The only train that goes there is the L and its a walk away.
3. It smells funny
4. Its dirty
5. Its sticky
6. The bathrooms are downstairs in the dark so if you’re drunk, you are definitely screwed.
7. Said bathrooms have really tiny stalls and toilets
8. and they are…..ewww.
9. The patrons are weird. I dont get it. Its a punk metal bar and those are the patrons that go there to see and hear music but other wise its a bunch of hipsters that sit there and be the stereotype and act pretentious and better than the venue they are buying the beer from. I mean, why go?
10. The vibe. But I think this is just me. I just get this bad vibe from this place. Almost everyone I know has had a shit time performing here. Either the sound was awful or the bands nerves would act up and they would get thrown off.

Last night was the first night that the band had a cool show but still you get this uneasy feeling that the band gives off and you just worry something is gonna go wrong. It sucks because DESPITE that I would give this venue a thumbs up but whenever I hear of a band I want to see playing there, I get nervous.