News and opinions from Broklyn Beats Records and Applecore Mailorder.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The End of Tonic, Part 1
In a sad, smoked-out bleary late-night TV session, I watched Food Network chefs make New York skylines out of Rice Krispie bars. One chef was making the Lower East Side skyline because she loves the diversity of the neighborhood. That's why she laid out CBGBs next to The Rivington Hotel, L.E.S.'s first luxury high-rise. Well, the Lower East Side isn't made out of candy and diversity isn't welcome if it can't pay the rent and hire a doorman to clean 24 hours a day.
Tonic is closing. SubTonic has closed. We are all reeling having lost jobs, but most importantly, a very special locale for our family of co-workers and music-makers. I could wax poetic (wait, I am...) but will try to keep it short... As a historically rich center for music, New York City is unlike many large cities in that it has A LOT of musicians. Tonic has always been a place for those weirder-than-most musicians to come home to after tour or to show up and see an old friend who is on tour. While there are numerous music venues downtown, few stand for the musician, paying the cuts Tonic always has to the musician. Few cater to more than rock, singer-songwriters or club DJs. Few are embedded in the community the way Tonic has been.
SubTonic has been closed since February's Matthew Dear show was raided by the Quality of Life Task Force. We had just finished letting people in to a packed party when 12 members of police (undercover and uniformed,) fire, health and buildings stormed downstairs in a flurry of summonses and fines. SubTonic was done. While many will talk about Tonic, I want to spend a minute on SubTonic. Doily has worked there since it opened and I've been, for all intents and purposes, its #1 regular... until I actually started working there...
Where upstairs was often focussed on acoustic groups, SubTonic hosted electronic sounds and for the past 9 years, there really was no better place in New York to see electronic music. From the Polar Bear Club to The Bunker to Barreled to Pure Fire to Phenomenon to... I forget the rest... you just couldn't find a better place to hear underground electronic sounds... our sounds in our space. A space the owners, Melissa and John, were happy to salvage and share with a bunch of crazy musicians who were lucky to get anyone but their friends and roommates to come to their gigs! Sometimes, however, a lot of people came out and a lot of fun was had, dancing (illegally!?) in a basement crammed full of kosher wine barrels full of nutters happy to be done paying rent for another month.
For Doily and I, we lose a haunt, a place where we spent a good part of our first decade in New York. This was where Broklyn Beats was nurtured. We have done the majority of our NYC gigs here, every record release for every record except the first. It was probably time to move on, climb out of the basement, but to what? This week, Sin-e, another LES musician-friendly haunt, closes. I've heard Boogaloo, home to Trouble & Bass's wicked monthly, will also close. CB's has been closed. Surely this isn't the end, but a new beginning. Nonetheless, we'll all miss working together. The majority of Tonic's staff has been there over 7 years together. We can all remember when there was nothing else on the block but Lansky's speakeasy and Lansky's was still open. When everything around the corner on Delancey was mom & pop spots. Well, the yuppies can have it. And for dessert, a CBGB Rice Krispie treat.
There is however, one last week to make a racket and this is our contribution:
SUBTONIC FAREWELL PARTY
Tonic (upstairs) 107 Norfolk
Mon. April 9th, 2007
10 - 4
Pure Fire and Broklyn Beats Records invite you to a SubTonic Farewell Party commemorating all the good times we have had playing in SubTonic. This is an open call for all denizens from SubTonic's illustrious past to come down and play one last time. There will be a sign-up sheet for 5 -10 min. slots for you to plug and play or DJ one last handful of vinyl / bytes...
For all of the years that SubTonic has provided us a wonderful locale for hosting and attending experimental music, it's our turn to say thank you and goodbye! With SubTonic previously closed, this party will be hosted upstairs at Tonic, but SubTonic will be listening! There will be a DJ set-up, extra tables and a mackie mixer provided. Plan to keep it short and sweet. Sign-up will be at the door with the party started at roughly 10 after the early show. Spread the word!