Posted in NYC | music | venues on March 29, 2007

With just four nights left before Sin-e shuts its doors for good, fellow Lower East Side music club Tonic confirms that it will be closing as well - and in just over two weeks.

Tonic, NYC (CRED)

Sad, but not surprising. Almost once before. New tower of condos next door (see above). Those points pretty much up sum up the situation. Mike Wolf from Time Out has the news:

Ah, fuck. That’s about the only thing that can be said to the news that Tonic, one of the city’s most popular small clubs—to musicians and fans alike—will be closing next month, with the last night of music being lucky Friday the 13th. The well-liked owners, Melissa Caruso Scott and John Scott, have yet to issue an official press release describing their reasons for closing, but one can only assume that the enormous, appalling tower of condos that got thrown up literally next door is part of it. (It all brings to mind DeNiro in Brazil, gliding in on a wire after striking a blow against the powers that be, smiling and assuring us that “We’re all in it together.” But I digress—and anyway, I’m not advocating that sort of behavior, am I?)
Expect more announcements related to the closing, but in the meantime here's some of what is coming up at the club:

Mar 29 - Rosewood Thieves & Kristin Diable (tonight)
Mar 30 - Ro Agents, Beat the Devil, Nervous Cabaret
Apr 04 - Capital M's 2nd Annual World Premieres Extravaganza
Apr 05 - ICP Orchestra
Apr 06 - ICP Orchestra
Apr 12 - Alex Delivery & Other Passengers

And the Time Out article ends with the future:

"in the meantime, they’ll (Melissa dn John) continue to put on shows at the nearby Abrons Art Center, as they have for months now. And there’s no small amount of good news to report, as well: Melissa very recently gave birth to her and John’s first child, a healthy boy who is graced with the sophisticated and regal name of Addison Wyatt Caruso Scott. I could say something hackneyed about endings and beginnings, but for the sake of us all, nah."
At least experimental music will live on at John Zorn's club the Stone, but who's next? There's some awfully large buildings going up next to Mercury Lounge too, and I bet that property is worth a ton - more so than ever now that Whole Foods is finally open.

RIP Tonic (1998-2007)

Post your memories of Tonic in the comments. Here are some of mine (and here and here and here).



Tags: Tonic

Comments (56)

I can tell you my LEAST favorite moment at tonic:

Tripping over a bucket of dirty rainwater in the middle of the venue floor.

I did see some great shows there, the Places and Grizzly Bear being two that I remember fondly.

Posted by bryce | March 29, 2007 2:54 PM

great venue, have seen medeski martin and wood there and it was really intimate. doesnt suprise me at all that its closing though, that whole area is being so gentrified with high rise buildings that seem so out of place.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 3:00 PM

my heart just broke. some of the best shows i've seen have been there.

Posted by alias pail | March 29, 2007 3:01 PM

ICP Orchestra? Oh dear God, Insane Clown Posse playing with an orchestra? Disgusting.

Posted by Bort | March 29, 2007 3:05 PM

let's here it for more condos. *smack*

Posted by cranky | March 29, 2007 3:16 PM

who are buying all these fucking condos???

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 3:21 PM

where is Jandek playing on the 14th then?

Posted by josef | March 29, 2007 3:24 PM

I loved Tonic. I moved here in 1999 and was there almost twice a week back then. I've seen some great stuff there. It will be sad to see it go.

Posted by Dan | March 29, 2007 3:25 PM

Jandek will be playing in a condo.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 3:30 PM

Assholes who fuck our sisters buy these condos.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 3:36 PM

Fuuuuuuuuuck. That was an amazing venue that epitomized all that I loved about NY culture. One more nail in the coffin for cutting edge, non-pretentious, experimental venues. Oh, but I'm sure the Music Hall of Williamsburg will pick up the slack. Or what, Studio fucking B? Jesus, this city turns more and more into a Disney Boardwalk by the day.

Posted by uuuughhh | March 29, 2007 3:37 PM

fight back!

Posted by chris | March 29, 2007 3:39 PM

i went to tonic twice. one time was a very unpleasant experience. i went to see maximilian hecker play there and they wouldn't let anyone in for some reason to the performance room until show time. when they finally did, they had max start minutes after and there was a huge line waiting outside to still come in. the guy comes all the way from germany and they can't even let everyone in first?

Posted by idiots | March 29, 2007 3:49 PM

this place had its days numbered long before their appeal to fans last year with those benefit shows.

its surrounded by high rises...its ridiculous.

Posted by sam | March 29, 2007 3:54 PM

Sorry, I missed the part were you requested memories. So, so many...

When I first moved here, I started going due to the Medeski, Martin, and Wood affiliated shows; Billy Martin, Cyro Baptista, Marc Ribot, I loved them all. I saw Sean Lennon there in 2000 on the day Radiohead was playing their Beacon Theatre show. Yoko and Mike D were in the crowd and Sean was joking about not being able to get tickets to go see Radiohead. Many sets of Steven Bernsteins various projects, John Zorn & the Electric Masada, Marco Benevento. Seeing In The Country with my friend Genki before he went back to Japan. Metallic Falcons with Anthony.

You know the song Rappcats by Quasimoto where he just reels off artist after artist that influenced him and profoundly shaped his taste in music? Tonic was like that for me, except it was a venue, not a song. Now it's going the way of Eazy-E.

Posted by uuuughhh | March 29, 2007 3:54 PM

i'd pay good money to see an orchestra with icp

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 3:56 PM

Lisa Germano!!!!!!!!!
and my buddy will who played an open mic night! yay

Posted by Emery | March 29, 2007 3:56 PM

I've always had a good time at Tonic but one of my favs was the late night marathon set by Jon Brion a few yrs back. fittingly, he opened w/ his own version of "Stairway to Heaven."
Who's next? abc no rio? arlene's grocery?

Posted by PDiddy | March 29, 2007 3:59 PM

Hey BV,
where is that awesome collection of pictures from the Lightning Bolt gig there, by JP Gutierrez, ya he's cool as hell.

Posted by jp | March 29, 2007 4:00 PM

Fuck. If Cake Shop and Mercury close next, I'm just gonna quit on music altogether.

Posted by Catbird | March 29, 2007 4:02 PM

this is such a shame. yes the condos next door are so ridiculous, im surprised the venue hasn't collapsed yet from the construction. I've seen so many good shows there - MMW when they recorded their acoustic album "Tonic," Refuge Trio / John Patitucci / Bill Frisell, Joe Russo Fat Mama Trio, and the list goes on and on. Their saturday night dance parties were always fun as well. My heart goes out to the owners who worked so hard to keep going and bring original music downtown.

Posted by joe | March 29, 2007 4:02 PM

such a shame, i saw so many good shows there - mmw recording their acoustic album "tonic," john patitucci, zorn, bill frisell. thank god the stone is still around, but it's not the same. my heart goes out to the owners and all nyc musicians. it gets harder and harder each day.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 4:06 PM

such a shame, i saw so many good shows there - mmw recording their acoustic album "tonic," john patitucci, zorn, bill frisell. thank god the stone is still around, but it's not the same. my heart goes out to the owners and all nyc musicians. it gets harder and harder each day.

Posted by joe | March 29, 2007 4:06 PM

Is that a condo or a Transformer?

Maximo Park at Tonic, that was good times...

The other Tonic is still open

Posted by MusicSnobbery | March 29, 2007 4:08 PM

ive never actually seen an amazing show there. i saw jan jelinek who was boring, sunn))o who were boring, fred frith who was boring, jim o'rourke who was boring...oh awesome color were good.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 4:09 PM

tonic was a warm, welcoming and wonderful place to play. one of the few manhattan venues we liked performing in, and we will miss it terribly. i hate what's happening to my city. westchester with skyscrapers -- bleh!

Posted by jim | March 29, 2007 4:15 PM

i am absolutely gutted
i love(d) tonic. i saw some utterly fantastic shows there,
pan sonic, alex smoke,
aaaaaahhhhh i cant believe it

Posted by cnnr | March 29, 2007 4:16 PM

Willem Breuker Kollektief (wacky Dutch big band). As is their custom, the band wandered into the audience while playing a song, one of the horn players took a seat at our table, all the while wailing away on his horn.

Posted by drewo | March 29, 2007 4:22 PM

that building looks sweet.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 4:28 PM

I drove into town to see John Zorn's Painkiller about 7 years ago or so> It was before I moved to NYC, so i had no idea where I was going. I called Tonic and the woman who answered the phone took as much time as was needed to guide me in to Norfolk street. She was great and that show was amazing. Since then I've seen countless shows there. Some were awesome and some sucked, just like at any other venue. But Tonic itself has always been a great place to go, and to hear music that rarely has a platform anywhere else. Tonic will be missed.

Posted by Andy | March 29, 2007 4:30 PM

major bummer. never once left that place with my jaw intact. califone, electric masada, blood on the wall, burnt sugar, vietnam, josephine foster, arbouretum, feathers... thax douglas and dan asher... goddamn.

Posted by downer | March 29, 2007 4:32 PM

This was often times a place to wander to just to see what was happening, not very many venues here like that anymore. Good luck to all involved, you will be missed. anyone got a suggestion of where to move? someplace I can afford an apt, a beer and to see a few good music shows a week? if you say brooklyn or atlanta you lose a toe.

Posted by so sad | March 29, 2007 4:43 PM

Oh no, horrible news. You really have to wonder what Manhattan is going to look like 10 years from now. It's hurtling towards soullessness at a frightening pace.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 4:47 PM

Nearly all the best shows that I ever saw were at Tonic - In the Country w/ Marc Ribot. The month-long John Zorn 50th Birthday celebration Sept 2003. Jonathan Kane's February. Numerous Masada incarnations. Arto Lindsay w/ Beans. So Many more. Plus an excellent place to play - they treat you as fairly as a band could possibly expect. RIP!

Posted by Kevin C | March 29, 2007 5:07 PM

Nearly all the best shows that I have ever seen have been at Tonic - In the Country w/ Marc Ribot. The month-long John Zorn 50th Birthday celebration Sept 2003. Jonathan Kane's February. Numerous Masada incarnations. Arto Lindsay w/ Beans. So Many more. Plus an excellent place to play - they treat you as fairly as a band could possibly expect. RIP!

Posted by Kevin C | March 29, 2007 5:08 PM

blood on the wall, arto lindsay, a few shows during that brief blackout period of my life (oh god) and so many nights downstairs in those weird, dank barrels. yeah, it was kind of run-down and totally dank, but i'm so glad that i had chance to take advantage of it while it was still here.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 6:09 PM

Tonic has been in trouble for many years and for many reasons, not the least of which is the state of the creaky building in which it's housed. Gentrification is surely a factor -- where in New York is it not? -- but it's hardly the only one. I'd love to see Tonic stay open for as long as possible, but it's a mistake to lay the blame for nightlife shutterings squarely at the feet of developers -- even developers of ugly, out-of-scale, glass-skinned condo buildings.

Posted by Michael | March 29, 2007 6:17 PM

charles curtis, cello + drones, playing terry jennings' "piece for cello and saxophone" last spring - a life-changing experience for me. Goodbye to my favorite live music venue in NYC, and hello to the final wave of downtown gentrification. Christ.

Posted by john | March 29, 2007 9:02 PM

Partly to blame, as activists in the neighborhood have cried out for the last 5 or so years as the problem got worse and worse, is the state liquor authority - - (SLA) -- for ignoring the 500 ft rule, making 60 million dollars in unmonitored profits a year by looking past their own regulations by allowing liquor licenses to be packed into a small area like the lower east side, thus creating (intently) a nightlife district earning them millions of dollars... thus creating a landrush-goldmine on storefront rents & businesses willing to pay increasingly outlandish rents (luxury bars like charbon and stanton social and schillers that cater to upscale people most of whom would not have set foot on the LES 7 years ago...) - -

NY has always been like this but it is completely out of control and I have never seen anything like the marketing of the LES and I saw soho, tribeca and west chelsea go kaput. We should also be crying out that a legendary cultural hub like Copacabana has been forced out of their space by the city using "eminent domain." These are dark days for non-mainstream culture in our city.

You are right, you can't just blame the condo yuppies. Long before they came here, the SLA began their work, with landlords rushing to empty their storefronts of small really alternative culture spaces like nada, collective unconscious and surf reality not to mention community spaces and small neighbor-owned businesses.

I guess we are in the last stage - the condos being the death knell. Not sure what we can do - people who live here have been crying out for years but with no commercial rent control or some sort of ability to protect the entities that give us culture and services off the grid of the wealthy, nothing but wealth and chain stores can pay the rents in this town. I heard that one vacant storefront near Tonic was going for something like $45,000 a month. Are we going to be like SoHo where the Chanel stores and restaurants pay $150,000 a month in rent?

I hope Tonic can find a new space. There are barely any experimental music spaces left in manhattan.

Posted by anonymous | March 29, 2007 9:17 PM

I have no reason to stick up for the SLA, but that doesn't make any sense. It's such a ridiculous argument that I'm not going to even explain why.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2007 9:49 PM

This sucks so bad. New York City should fucking care that this is happening way too often now but sadly it doesn't. I love this city as much as I hate it and Manhattan is allowing itself to drown itself of any culture. My favorite Tonic memory was this lineup:

Animal Collective
Devendra Banhart

It was the night that the blizzard of '03 started. I had a car at the time and drove back home over the Williamsburg Bridge at about 10 mph in the escalating storm. But that night of music was beautiful and all those bands ruled so much that night.

Posted by will | March 29, 2007 9:50 PM

SO dreadfully sad. My favorite venue in the city hands down. Intimate. Classy. Clever. Cool. A womb for musical evolution. Such a healthy spirit to that place.

Oy. I saw SO many talented musicians there. And planned on seeing more...had tickets to the Duo... Antibalas, Devendra, Zorn, Skerik, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, the Slip, Ribot, Weston, Miho Hatori, Marco Benevento's brilliant residency, MMW, Steve Bernstein, Socket, Club D'Elf, Bill Laswell, Charlie Hunter, Bill Frisell, Bernie Worrell!, Kyp Malone, Cyro many more I'm sure....... Diverse, and

I'm moving. Seriously. Later NY. Apt will be opening up in Windsor Terrace soon, close to the Park. Email me for more details.

Posted by UncleEb | March 29, 2007 11:05 PM

I saw Miho Hatori from Cibo Matto and Smokey Hormel there. It was the shit.

Posted by aonn | March 29, 2007 11:05 PM

Tonic is working on putting together some big-name benefit shows during the last weeks. However, this is mostly to get out of debt and the whole they are already in financially - not to rescue the venue by any means.

the idea of re-opening in another location is being discussed.

the reasons are strictly financial. they have been so for a while. it has nothing to do with nearby development.

it does have to do with mismanaged business operations, landlord problems and the unfortunate closing of the downstairs bar that generated most of the revenue. mostly the first, however.

there is truly no other place like Tonic in NYC. please everyone go during the last weeks and support what is perhaps the best venue in the city for creative and alternative music.

ps re: ICP orchestra comments - i hope you are joking. if not, google Instant Composers Pool. this is an amazing treat to have play during the last weeks of Tonic

Posted by Anonymous | March 30, 2007 12:47 AM

I'm sad that Tonic is closing. But why reward a business that is apparently poorly managed with more benefit show money?
If they are still in debt after all of the benefit shows last time, they either don't know how to manage a business or the business is such a poor model that it needs to be fixed. Musicians should do one last show at Tonic, but keep your money. Don't give it to them! Tonic and CBGBs have played this card too many times. They are adults and should take responsibility for their problems/mistakes.

Posted by Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:50 AM

ah yes, the almighty dollar is the only denominator, once again! i mean, if a condo building on the same spot as tonic can make its payments, then isn't it Tonic's problem they can't raise the capital? yeah, that makes so much sense.

Tonic should stake out some space so far off the beaten path (east new york!) to re-open that it will take another 20 years before people talk about their 'business model.'

i saw Laddio Bolocko there in 2000 and have yet to recover.

Posted by Jimmy Legs | March 30, 2007 12:09 PM

the only way any small, independent businesses can expect to survive in this city is if they own their building. Otherwise, they are at the mercy of their landlords. Landlords want to make as much money as possible with as little risk as possible. The city has knowingly opened this door in an unprecedented portion of the city. This is the beginning of the dark ages in NYC.

Posted by Anonymous | March 30, 2007 2:40 PM

i saw the Occasion play there last winter. the heat wasn't working but they were fucking awesome. the band still had all five members.

i'll remember tonic mostly for the bands whose shows i missed: fennesz (i was at a close friend's birthday party instead) & keith fullerton whitman (i was in japan)

BUT, i'm planning on going there tomorrow night to see school of seven bells.

Posted by aaronfromqueens | March 30, 2007 11:36 PM

It is a sad day for New York City.

Posted by Tim L. | March 31, 2007 9:25 PM

So... Where to go now?!

Posted by Ptr | April 25, 2007 4:54 AM

I loved Tonic and I've seen some great stuff there. It will be sad to see it go.

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Posted by Herman | July 29, 2011 11:02 AM

thats so sad that they're closing it! better yet, if they're opening a more convenient and nice one then it would be reasonable.

Posted by Cheap Hotel | February 20, 2012 11:44 AM

its like moving on. time to find another hang out or maybe at a rooftop of a hotel would be nice seeing the buildings and the view.

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