2014 was a Red Wedding of a year for Brooklyn’s beloved DIY music venues. Death by Audio closed in November, 285 Kent shuttered in January and Glasslands threw its last party on New Year’s Eve. Those were more or less the Big Three of the DIY venue world at the time, and they were all felled by one common axe: Vice (plenty more spots closed for other reasons too, fwiw). Many other venues have popped up since then to fill the void, but the year marked a turning point for the DIY scene, which is classified by questionably legal venues, cheap concerts and a less profit-minded ethos. Even before Glasslands closed, the folks from PopGun, which ran the space, were looking ahead at plans for a new, bigger and more permanent home.
This week, PopGun officially announced their new project, and it’s going to be much larger, more ambitious and more polished than the lovably makeshift Glasslands: in the fall they’ll open Elsewhere, a 24,000-square foot, $3 million venue and art space built out of an old furniture assembly warehouse in Bushwick. It’ll contain an open rooftop, art gallery, loft bar and multiple performance spaces, with the goal of attracting both local up-and-coming artists and national acts. We talked with PopGun cofounders Jake Rosenthal, 29, and Rami Haykal, 28, about why they went big with their new project, whether they still hold a grudge against Vice and why DIY venues may be forced to grow up.
“It has become much harder to throw up some drywall, subdivide some space and start doing shows in a way that’s going to last more than a few months,” said Rosenthal, who lives in Bushwick. “There are spaces that are still doing it, but it’s been a pretty rough few years for those spaces. That is one of the things that we started seeing in the last few years: a lot of people are starting to realize they’re going to have to take a different approach.” (more…)