There is something magical about the little corner of East Williamsburg south of Grand Street and east of Bushwick Ave. Within just a few blocks you have 3rd Ward, House of Yes, Werdink / Ninja Pyrate, the Acheron, Bushwick Project for the Arts, Paper Box, and Shea Stadium. Plus the Anchored Inn, Yummus Hummus, Main Drag Music, a slew of other factories and art spaces, and who even knows what else. Brooklyn creativity is dense all over, but even so, that’s quite a little group.
I live ten minutes from the whole cluster, but embarrassingly, I’d never been to Shea Stadium before. It’s a really nice space, roomy and welcoming, with some good beat-up couches and a great terrace. As with most DIY Brooklyn venues, Todd P has thrown shows here. My friend’s band Krallice has played here—that’s them in the big picture at the top of the post.
brooklyn spaces: Give me a quick history of the space?
Adam: We moved in here July 1, 2009, and we had our first show on July 4th. That show was a lot of fun, because we hadn’t done anything in terms of building out the space; we just plugged PA speakers into the walls and went for it. There was no stage, nothing. People were dancing and these enormous clouds of sawdust were getting kicked up. After that we took a week or two to just put up walls. It’s a slow process: you add this, you add that. It’s always a work in progress.
brooklyn spaces: How many people are involved in making this happen?
Adam: The main people are me and my friend Sean, who was with me from the beginning, and Nora. My friends in the band So So Glows all live here and help out with the shows, and we have a revolving door of some other really cool people who help out. Nora actually started as an intern, but it was clear from the beginning that she was going to become more than that very quickly. She just was really hungry, and she had the right attitude and the right ideas.
brooklyn spaces: Tell me about the live archives.
Adam: The live archives was sort of the impetus behind the space. I work in music—I’m a producer, engineer, and musician—and I always wanted to open up some sort of space, but I felt like the last thing this area needed was another recording studio. Plus I wanted to do something a little less sterile and a little more fun and interactive. So I was like, “Let’s start throwing shows and I’ll record them, and we’ll build up this massive archive of performances.” I think at this point I have about 1,400 sets.
brooklyn spaces: What’s the goal? Just to amass a huge amount of recorded live music?
Adam: Yeah. I think that in ten, twenty years, what’s happening in this area is something people are going to want to know about, and it’s nice to be able to capture it. When we first launched the site, I was getting letters from people who live in Alabama, Kentucky, Australia, New Zealand, saying, “It’s logistically impossible for us to get to New York and see these bands that we love, but through your archives, we can connect.”
brooklyn spaces: Is there an overarching kind of music you aim for?
Adam: If we like it, we book it. It’s really that simple. The stuff we have is all over the map. And it’s a pretty healthy mix of local bands and touring bands and bands from other countries.
brooklyn spaces: What’s your relationship like with the community?
Adam: I have a pretty good relationship with all of our neighbors, especially our landlords next door. They’re from Lebanon, and they’ve been here since the seventies. They used to own all of Meadow Street, from Morgan to Waterbury. Every single building. Now they’re down to only two or three, and they run a furniture business across the street, Mona Liza Fine Furniture. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. They were sort of the pioneers of the neighborhood; they came when it was just junkyards and tire fires and gang violence. And they’re the coolest. When the weather gets nice, they bring a big table out onto the sidewalk and cook dinner for everybody. It’s like old-school New York. And they’ve been nothing but supportive of us. It wouldn’t be possible to do what we do if they weren’t so cool.
brooklyn spaces: Do they come to the shows?
Adam: Sometimes, but usually they don’t stick around very long. What happens more often is people at the shows will go over there, because they’re outside all the time, hanging out, smoking hookah, cooking. People wander over and hang out all night, getting drunk with the landlords.
brooklyn spaces: Was this neighborhood in particular a place you wanted to be?
Adam: I didn’t know too much about the neighborhood before we moved in. I grew up in Bay Ridge, and I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the majority of my life, but this neighborhood was one of the few in the borough that I really wasn’t very familiar with. I’m happy that we landed here because this is really a great, great neighborhood. And I think it’ll continue to get better, unfortunately probably to a point that will prohibit us from being able to keep doing what we do, but that’s part of the cycle. Eventually your time comes and you have to reevaluate and figure out a different path. This neighborhood is changing rapidly, and we’ll just see what happens.
brooklyn spaces: It’s true; even in the last five years, it’s become completely different.
Adam: Totally. It’s such a strange neighborhood, because it’s so close to the things you want to be close to, and kind of far from the things you want to be far away from. You have privacy, you have space, and there aren’t many public businesses around, so you don’t have noise complaints. It’s completely amazing to be three blocks from the L train and not have to worry about noise complaints. I don’t really think that’s possible anywhere else. You basically have the keys to do what you want, and in Brooklyn in 2011, that’s so rare. These few blocks might be the final frontier.
brooklyn spaces: What are your goals for the future of the space?
Adam: Really just to keep doing what we’re doing for as long as possible. I know it’s not going to last forever, so I want to enjoy it while we can.