Posted in music | venues on February 18, 2008

Pussycat Lounge

"The city cracks down on things, just to give bars fines--that's what kills the new businesses," said Joi Brozek, former co-owner of the Lucky Cat rock club in Williamsburg. "If you're barely making rent and then you're slapped with a $1,500 fine, you're almost doomed to fail, especially when you're dealing with music because then everyone comes out of the fucking cracks like cockroaches."....

...."The reality of it is, live music isn't much of a moneymaker," she said. "If it was up to me, and somebody said, 'What would be your ideal business?' I would say, a straight-up bar, and that's it, because, really, live music is a ton of headaches." [The NY Observer]

P.S. I recently made a lot of updates to the NYC venue map. Check it out.



Comments (45)

some guy in that article complains that rock crowds don't drink enough at the bar. No shit sherlock, maybe stop charging people 6 or 7 dollars for a drink, then maybe people will drink more.


I don't run a club

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 11:04 AM

yuck. Fuck all of these people

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 11:04 AM

hence Brownies to Hifi. more $$ to be made, muinis the headaches.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 11:09 AM

If live music doesn't pay, why does the Bowery keep opening more venues?

Posted by bumpershine | February 18, 2008 11:37 AM

They're big venues, not club-size venues.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 11:43 AM

This guy is blaming everyone but himself for not knowing how to book the right bands or hire someone that knows how to book the right bands. If all you had to do was schedule some shit band with no following, then everyone would open a venue. There is definitely an art to booking bands that can make you money. It's obvious that he's only in it for the money, so fuck him anyway.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 11:58 AM

NYC Club owners: only the strong survive. 

Posted by greg | February 18, 2008 12:05 PM

Pussycat Lounge: in lower Manhattan (where no one goes)

Bands (and their fans) go to East Village, Brooklyn, W'burg, etc.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 12:40 PM

The reason why fewer people are going out to see music, aside from the obvious fact that the city has become prohibitively expensive for most residents who don't live the yuppie work eat sleep die lifestyle that makes such distractions difficult, is the fact the New York rock scene is churning out absolute complete fucking garbage. Let's not shoot the messenger. I'm sure there will be some type of horrible disaster in the city that will allow social darwinism to run its course and in turn give us something worth listening to and the time and energy to do so. Patience, young grasshoppers.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 1:05 PM

reg:Pussycat Lounge

True, lower Manhattan is basically a ghost town after 5, but if a band you want to see is playing down there you'd end up there, no? Doubt location is an issue. (now, if they were located in, say, Staten Island away from any mass transit then maybe I'd agree with you!)

Posted by Lars | February 18, 2008 1:27 PM

i go to knitting factory all the time, so there.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 1:37 PM

to anon 1:05 - I wonder what your definition of something worth listening to is.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 1:42 PM

6th poster is right on the money. At least part of the failure of Continental, Pussycat Lounge and Lucky Cat to continue as live music venues lies with each of the venue's booking policies. Book crap bands most days of the week and it's no wonder patrons don't return or go there in the first place. Pussycat Lounge basically only had crap bands with the occasional interesting booking (Eyehategod anyone?). Continental had a good run in the early to late 90s and then began letting any any ham & egger garage band and cover band play -- the bookers there did not make an effort to compete and stay on top of interesting new bands, even when they were under their noses. No shame in being a rocker/scumrock bar but seriously, at least get good bands. Lucky Cat is just a dive bar with no stage or PA that didn't make any concerted effort to make it as a live venue of any note. Just opening the door to live music doesn't entitle anyone to stay in business. I've had great times at all of these places. I sympathize with the harassment they face from the Bloomberg administration, real estate interests and mild & entitled 2.0 NYers, but this article is just too vague (same "observations" that city is hostile to live music venues and rent is increasing) and superficial (how does, say, Mercury, Bowery or Don Hills stay in business?). Pussycat dude is so oblivious that he doesn't even realize how off-the-mark his "getting CBGB's business" quote is (and the writer too oblivious to catch it as well). First, it would never happen given his location and complete lack of presence as a live venue (as opposed to titty bar); second, mainly tourists went to CBGBs for at least the last 10 years. It sure wasn't for the bands. CBGB survived on tshirt sales and overpriced beers. That isn't transferrable to just any club in lower Manhattan, as if the hoards are going to descend on the Pussycat Lounge just b/c it's got live bands 7 nights a week or whatever.

Posted by pjs | February 18, 2008 1:57 PM

hey, i think i'm going to open up a shop or restaurant in NYC.

i mean, people have to buy things and eat, right?
by my logic, i will stay in business for a long time.

Posted by Anonymous | February 18, 2008 3:24 PM

You're all pretentious morons. Shut the fuck up. You have no clue. Maybe if people went to the Pussycat Lounge and took a chance and saw a few new bands, instead of sitting at computers slamming it, it would be more successful. Theres a train stop right in front of the couldnt be easier to get to. Lots of good bands play. Unsound at the Pussycat is always an awesome event. Take a chance on a new band, instead of paying $25 to see Spank Rock or Team Robespierre.

Posted by splifford | February 19, 2008 11:03 AM

Splifford! What a gracious invitation...

Posted by Jimmy | February 19, 2008 11:48 AM

Robert didn't want to put in the energy and money into doing things that would attract really good bands, such as: upgrading the equipment, giving guarantees to bands that deserved them, and the very simple act of NOT DOUBLE BOOKING EVENTS, thereby ruining the reputation of the place. He also didn't want to pay a sound guy. Try having a live show with 6 bands with the porter doing sound. He wanted 6 out of 7 nights of the week booked and was pissed if the place wasn't packed with heavy drinkers those 6 nights. And the first comment in this thread is right on the money--he wanted to charge $6 for a bud, refused to have a cheap beer or any specials whatsoever, because he know that Club "X" could charge this amount and get away with it.

To make a grandiose statement about getting all of CB's business, shows the cloud of delusion in which this man exists.

The fact is, some really good bands did come through there. Many times they played to a crowd of 5, including me, the door person and the sound guy, but were talented, respectful and didn't come up to the bar expecting a night of free booze, either (shocking how many bands would come in expecting an open bar and a crowd waiting for them, in a city where barely anyone seems to venture out to hear new music). Would any owner give a shit about that when the bar made 30 bucks, though? Certainly not one who is an old millionaire from his real estate business and who has a club as a hobby...

Posted by Joi | February 19, 2008 1:13 PM

I see that Joi has posted in this forum. Well I'll tell you why certain clubs fail! It's because of people like Joi who fancies themselves as "bookers" when they have absolutely no qualifications. The Lucky Cat is an embarrassment as a music venue. If you are going to do something do it right or don't bother at all. Their stage was what 2 feet off the ground? No Real P.A. system etc. They don't even have a real bar jus some makeshift wood. You just don't throw open the doors in this town and put on a half ass show and expect people to support it. The Pussycat Lounge has always been a dump with again a bad PA system overpriced drinks and uninpired bookings. There are plenty of music venues in this town that do it right and that's why they are supported. There's professionals and then there's amateur hour. Amateur hour doesn't fly in NYC.

Posted by Rick | February 19, 2008 1:48 PM

I see that Rick has posted in this forum. Interesting. This must be the Rick that fancies himself as authority and of course that means armchair "expert" on all that is associated with live music and venues in New York City.
Refresh my memory again as to why this is so? What exactly is it again that you have ventured out to do? You know, because, then maybe I'll care.

Posted by joi | February 19, 2008 10:36 PM

Obviously Joi you do care otherwise you wouldn't have responded. The truth is you have a dark cloud over your head. You failed at The Lucky Cat and you've failed at The Pussycat Lounge. You think I'm the only one saying this?, just do a search around the web and you'll see Bands bashing The Pussycat of which you were or are the booker. You can also step up to the plate and stop playing the blame game with the owner of the club. If you were convincing enough or better yet QUALIFIED the owner would be more apt to listen to you.

Speaking of feedback found on the web

Here's one from Agents Of Karma "Has any ne else had the displeasure of dealing with "Bad" so called promoters in NYC lately! I'd love to swap stories and alert each other as to who to watch out for. Agents of Karma had a bad time with the Pussy Cat Lounge recently. We were not informed that the backline drum kit, that was posted on their web and myspace sites was not available the night of our gig. To make matters worse at the last minute the club changed our start time from 10 PM to 12:30 AM, not giving me enough time to inform our following of the time change. If it hadn't been for a band from Virginia calling me about borrowing our kit due to the lack of Drums, no one would have known about it and the possibility of 4 bands showing up without drums was high on the likelihood scale. What's your story? Cheers Jay AOK /NYC"

Here's another

Step away from the "PUSSY CAT" Lounge
More details to follow: Last night December 21st will go down as my worst Rock club experience ever. I was moonlighting with my friends in Vera Beren's Gothic Chamber Blues Ensemble at The Pussy Cat Lounge. The P.Cat Lounge canceled 4 bands on the spot last night. Seems there was a private party running over time and the Club Owner didn't want to stop the party to put on the 4 bands that were scheduled to go starting at 9 PM. There we were equipment and all being told we weren't going on. The only compensation offered were free drinks at the bar, where the now extremely drunken party goers were hanging out listening to some of the shittiest house music I've ever heard. No amount of explaining how all the sacrifice's the bands and individual band members went through to make the night happen would change the owners mind. Example: Our Drummer drove back from Pittsburg P.A. to make a rehearsal the night before the gig so we would be tight + another performer paid for transportation for both himself and his equipment to be at the P.Cat lounge that night. The end result was that there were more disenfranchised music fans standing around outside the venue than there were drunk patrons inside. But that did not matter to the dumb shit owner. So please I beg all my fellow musicians and music lovers in the New York Area to spread the word and flag The "Pussy Cat Lounge" as a bad club with a bad owner who will sell you out for a few drunks at the bar at the drop of a dime. I will be posting a rant on Criags list as well as blogging those M.F.'s to death about this. This isn't the first time they've screwed me and I'm sure it won't be the last time they screw over other hard working bands unless we as musicians unite and stay clear of establishments who do not respect what we do and all the efforts we make to promote our shows and stay afloat as artists in this harsh town. Thank you for listening. Jay Cavanaugh / Bassist / Vocalist Agents of Karma, Vera Beren's Gothic Chamber blues Ensemble, Work Of Art Reggae, Where's my Angel

So Joi as you can see your reputation blows. Sometimes you just have to take a good look at yorself and stop playing the victim in all of this. You're just qualified.

Posted by Rick | February 19, 2008 11:28 PM

Last line should read, You're just NOT qualified.

Posted by Rick | February 19, 2008 11:31 PM

wow, all that effort with the quotes and the feedback . . and then to drop the ball on the final word, the effect was just lost after that. I mean, sure we get what you're trying to say, but if you're going to take the time to trash someone, at least make sure you do it right. Also, I couldn't help but notice that, while you accuse Joi of "playing the blame game with the owner of the club", the feedback that you provided also applies blame to the owner ". . and the Club Owner didn't want to stop the party to put on the 4 bands that were scheduled to go starting at 9 PM. " and "But that did not matter to the dumb shit owner. " and "with a bad owner who will sell you out for a few drunks at the bar at the drop of a dime." and "No amount of explaining how all the sacrifice's the bands and individual band members went through to make the night happen would change the owners mind." Even the bit about the drum kit, it seems to me that the owner is no longer interested in maintaining the equipment the club offers and would prefer to cater more to private parties that to the needs of the bands. Bad business, no doubt, but I fail to see your reasoning for blaming Joi specifically. The truth is you have a dark cloud over your head. You failed at making a valid argument and you've failed at your petty attempt to vilify Joi ! tsk tsk

Posted by Magpie | February 20, 2008 4:50 AM

Magpie obviously a friend of Joi's. How pathetic that she needs her internet buddies to stick up for her. The clueless leading the clueless. A leader and a qualified person would have the power of persuasion to tell the owner that the bands go on. Obviously the owner sees what Joi is...

The bottom line is that Joi and so many others out there booking have no clue what they are doing and don't have the character to admit that they just aren't good at it. Pointing your internet buddies (to validate your cluelessness) to this post is just pathetic desperation. The best bookers are musicians, not wannabees.

Posted by Rick | February 20, 2008 8:51 AM

wait a minute, but in the article it says Joi is "co-owner", so it don't matter either way.

Also I have to laugh at this no stage, shitty bar business, have you guys been to Death By Audio? the shittiest venue Ive ever been at, yet they continue to put on good shows there.

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2008 9:03 AM

It says former co-owner of that dump The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg. Can there be a lamer name than The Lucky Cat?

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2008 10:13 AM

Kit-Kat Club? That would be pretty lame.

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2008 10:41 AM

"obviously a friend of Joi's"? what, because I don't agree with you. I simply pointed out that the feedback that you gave said nothing of Joi's reputation, only that of the owner and, by proxy, the club. Your argument is flawed. For the record, I only know Joi through a mutual friend of ours. I've met her maybe two or three times. I found her to be kind, and rather witty. That said, I am not some clueless little "internet buddy" pathetically defending my best buddy. Your argument is flawed. Had I never even heard of Joi Brozek or if I was her twin sister, your argument is still flawed. I'm not one to use a forum for personal politics. The examples that you used did not back up your accusations. If you want to debate that fact, be my guest, but don't turn and attack my integrity because you have no defense for your poor reasoning skills. Clearly your interests here are personal, please understand that mine are simply logical.

Posted by magpie | February 20, 2008 5:32 PM

magpie you're clueless. Bottom line - Lucky Cat failure, Pussycat Lounge failure. See a pattern here? No flawed logic, just reality. Cut the friend of a friend nonsense, it's so transparent.

Posted by Rick | February 20, 2008 9:49 PM

>>The best bookers are musicians, not wannabees.


and that which invalidates any point that MAY have been valid!

Speaking of failures, I think Rick has just revealed himself here, unwittingly, of course. Because he has no wit to speak of.

Rick is obviously obsessed with Joi enough that he had to go and dig up quotes regarding the Pussycat Lounge (not Joi specifically, as it makes it clear that it was the OWNER that was the issue).

Posted by Rosemary | February 21, 2008 12:08 AM

Anon @ 1:05:

There are about a million great New York bands: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth, TVOTR, Interpol, The Strokes, Animal Collective, The National, etc.

Recently: Muggabears, Vampire Weekend, My Teenage Stride, Bishop Allen, High Places, Matt and Kim, etc.

About 1/2 of the artists that I listen to have some connection to NYC. It may be "hip" to bash your scene these days, but it is probably the best in the world. Stop whining.

Posted by Mark B. | February 21, 2008 1:19 AM

Are you implying I lied ? Here's the deal ricky, my son's godfather (my friend) used to work with Joi, and now they're friends. See how that works, a friend of a friend. It's sad that you resort to petty insults of cluelessness and transparency. All the same, I'm done with this. I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Good luck with your life.

Posted by Magpie | February 21, 2008 1:55 AM

Rick- yer obviously an asshole who can't bring a friend who knows of your music to a show (aka you suck). Joi is prolly the best you're going to find in NYC as far as accommodating bookers go. Been working for and with her for several years. If there is a problem it's probably you.


Posted by tnturner | February 21, 2008 3:00 AM

I'm a WORKING studio musician who was the booker for Gildersleeves for many years. A legendary music venue that I'd bet most of you never heard of. I've been a part of the once was music scene since the 70's. None of you have my knowledge or experience. There's barely a music scene today because it is run by amateurs like Joi. Reading these idiotic friends of Joi is mind numbing. Joi how pathetic are you that you're sending people to read this thread and back you? You're the EXACT reason why there's no music scene today.

Posted by Rick | February 21, 2008 10:17 AM

wow Rick that is fucking amazing, Great Gildersleeves, I was still in grade school but from what I read that place put on some great shows back in the day.

see here for little background:

Posted by Anonymous | February 21, 2008 11:39 AM

Remember when Ben Vereen played the mayor on Zoobilie Zoo?

You're all wankers.

Posted by Anonymous | February 21, 2008 11:49 AM

Judging soley from Joi's quotes in the article, it seems she is clueless to how things operate (or have the potential to operate) in this city.

Rick may (or may not) have ulterior motives, but I don't think that's really important. He's brought up some good points and quotes.

Magpie, you have failed in addressing his points. He may be bashing and blaming, but he's bringing up points. You're just bashing.

Posted by Anonymous | February 21, 2008 12:19 PM

Get this straight, Rick, I DO care that some troll who I don't even know is spouting a bunch of half-truths out in a public forum in an attempt to ruin my reputation.

The two quotes that you found illustrate my points perfectly, this all had to do with the owner's control over the venue (or lack thereof) and not the booker (that is, me). You don't seem to know the distinction--but maybe things were different in the 70s, a magical time when owners listened to bookers and gave them whatever their little heart desired.

In addition, both quotes were related to the Pussycat. I highly doubt you'll find much, if any, negativity about bands playing at the Lucky Cat--the venue that I owned--in the time I was there, 02-06. Go ahead, I'm sure you'll have to go look, that is, in between all those important gigs you're playing right now, only at the best venues, of course, where everything always goes right and you walk out with a pocket full of cash after a night where you had an open bar and full-on catering.

"If you were convincing enough or better yet QUALIFIED the owner would be more apt to listen to you."
This is a laughable statement and again, just goes to show that you have NO idea what you're talking about, similar to the statement you made about musicians making the best bookers.
As far as getting my friends to come in here and "back me," that was not the case. I did send the link to the article in which my ISOLATED statements were taken out and yes, they read the comments and responded.

Posted by Joi | February 21, 2008 4:44 PM

rick, i hear that you're not only a failed booker from back in the day, you're also a failed musician. bitter, too!

Posted by some dumb blonde | February 21, 2008 6:14 PM

Joi as I've stated all along you are clueless. I guess you don't understand what a studio musician is. I get paid to play on peoples albums/cd's. I play on commercials, jingles etc. I make my lving doing that so I rarely play out these days but I'm always at shows. I was a booker at Gildersleeves when I was in my 20's and booked some of the best NYC bands and national acts. You see back then I'd take the time to listen to cassette promos, ep's even reel to reels from time to time. I'd go to shows all over the city scouting bands for the club. I ran the show at Gildersleeves because I knew what I was doing and the owners had confidence in me. As a musician I knew what bands expected and how to treat them. It's called knowing your business. When my career as a musician took off I stopped working as a booker. When I left the club started to fail because the owners were getting tired ogf the business, hired an amateur to do my job because they were attempting to go cheap and eventually the club stopped making money and the rest is history. There were other factors in it closing but that's not for publuic consumption.

The problem with so many places is the throw the doors open and people will show up attitude. Without a good sound system, the right techs running it and a welcoming vibe you're doomed in this town. Too many amateurs who don't do their homework have ruined many a music venue. To play the blame game on owners and other factors is a cop out. To have your internet buddies come here to defend you is pathetic.

How long will you last at Lucky Cheng's the tourist trap?

Posted by Rick | February 21, 2008 6:53 PM

Wasn't Gildersleeves a clothing store?

Yer living a lie Rick!

Posted by tnturner | February 22, 2008 1:50 PM

tnturner Great Gildersleeves was a rock club in the East Village down the street from CBGB'S. Great bands played at Gildersleeves and the cover was cheap if not free most times. Rick I may know you, does your last name start with a B? I'm John, I worked the door summer of '82, live in the same building as Peel. Would love to get back in touch, has been many years. Miss those times.

Posted by John from East 5st | February 22, 2008 4:50 PM

I recall seeing guitarist James Blood Ulmer at Great Gildersleeves, with, I believe, the great Rashid Ali on drums.

Posted by drewo | February 22, 2008 4:59 PM

Hey Rick! The 70's!!? The Fucking 70's when people bought albums and went to shows!? The 70's before the fucking internet!? You, my friend are the fucking clueless one. Times are a different now gramps. When your not getting the big bucks in the studio where is your shitty cover band playing? The reason that there IS a scene in NYC is because of "Amatuer" bookers like myself. People who do there best in spite of zero prospect of ever making a dime. People who work full time but still put in the time to book and promote independent bands. Where are these "Professional" bookers? I'd like to know what there making as well, it must be pretty good to be able to survive NYC rent and bills just booking rock bands. Maybe it was possible in the 70's before the yuppie invasion but not now fuckface. The good old days are over Ricky. "It's better to burn out then to fade away", take that one to heart you old bitch.

Posted by Amatuer | August 27, 2008 8:49 AM

as a musician, label owner and promoter since the late 90s, i find rick's comments to be indicative of a general disconnect with what's really going on in nyc. not surprising, since he says he last booked shows in the 70s.
the climate is hostile toward independent bookers, and small venues have been dropping like flies in the past ten years. with the resurgence of proactive enforcement of 'cabaret licenses' during the early part of the new millennium, a limitation was placed on what sort of venue the little guy could choose from for the purpose of putting on shows of quality but obscure music. this coincided with a cascading closure of venues such as coney island high, the bank, and eventually tonic - a stalwart supporter of underground music.
the pyramid, another long-time home for underground music, has a manager who is notorious for booking an event with a promoter and then backing out on the day of the show, without notice. i have shown up at the door many time with bands prepared to load in, and had to re-negotiate the door price and argue over what time he had told us we could load in. it's simply not worth the headache.
i've booked shows at the lucky cat and at the pussycat lounge, and while neither was anywhere near the epitome of perfection, each had its own charms and certainly its own flaws.
i would not say that joi was to blame in either case. in fact, to say that she 'failed' at those venues also indicates that rick has no idea what he is talking about. from my point of view, it seems more that joi voluntarily escaped from both venues in order to move on to what she hoped would be greener pastures.
unfortunately, the pussycat lounge only looked good from a distance. once you got rolling around in that grass, the malodourous dirt beneath was revealed.
the owner and management of the pussycat lounge were unwilling to make the necessary adjustments to make the pussycat lounge a viable live venue.
rather than attempt to make the space generally comfortable, the owner opted to temporarily store a gigantic espresso machine next to the bar, further reducing the amount of space for people to occupy. rather than making the stage functional, he placed two tremendous plastic fu dogs on either side.
he regaled us with his plans to install a pizza oven and refurbish the disused kitchen behind the stage, in spite of the fact that there is a pizza place directly next to and across the street from the venue. rather than attempting to make the bathrooms as clean and comfortable as possible, he spoke of his plans to create a smoking deck on the rear of the building, which would require visitors to the venue to walk through the aforementioned kitchen.
he balked at the idea of investing in an entirely new audio system, while at the same time practically begging myself and my partners to continue to book shows there.
he was not willing to take a stand and commit to making the pussycat lounge a space for live music performance, and instead wasted his time and money on cosmetic changes such as a centuries-old bronze facade for the main entrance. you can wrap shit in many layers of gold, but it is still going to smell like shit.
because of my own experiences, i have no doubt that joi left the pussycat lounge not because she had 'failed' but because she had grown tired of being taken advantage of with nothing to show for it, and having to struggle against a venue owner who is as out of touch as our friend rick.

Posted by Rick, eat a dick | August 27, 2008 9:33 AM

i also need to address rick's assertion that there is no music scene because of amateurs booking shows.
without these amatuers booking shows, there would be absolutely no music 'scene' whatsoever.
a 'scene' is comprised of the fans, those who exert themselves at great personal cost to bring live music to the stage, those who clamour for more music, those who create fanzines, take photos at shows, and otherwise help spread the word about the bands and music they love.
the 'scene' is certainly not helped by individuals such as yourself making sweeping generalisations about those who are actively working to MAKE things happen, people such as myself and my partners who continue to struggle through financial hardships to bring bands to play in nyc from sweden, germany, denmark, australia, scotland, texas, oregon, georgia, pennsylvania, ohio, and all other corners of the states and abroad. when was the last time you did anything to help 'the scene,' aside from sitting idly by and judging others by criteria which have not been applicable for 30 years?
it is individuals like you who rick, people who curse the darkness rather than lighting a candle, who cast disparagements on the efforts of others while personally contributing absolutely nothing, who have ruined 'the scene' and continue to do so.

Posted by Rick, eat a dick | August 27, 2008 10:03 AM

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