Posted in NYC | music | tour dates | venues on November 26, 2013

by Bill Pearis

The counter Rough Trade (w/ Morrissey Autobiography) (more by Chris La Putt)
Rough Trade

As you may have maybe -- just maybe -- heard, UK indie record store Rough Trade opened its first-ever NYC branch yesterday (11/25). As a record lover and Williamsburg resident, I headed over to N. 9th after work last night to check it out.

The store is big and warehouse-y with plenty of space in between shelves for easy browsing, and a centralized checkout area. (It is still small compared to the late-'90s days of Virgin Megastore and Tower.) There is a mezzanine with magazines and books (like import copies of Morrissey's Autobiography) on one side of the space, and on the other there is the Guardian Green Room which is a "multi-purpose digital lounge" and an exhibition space that currently has a recreation of Donald Glover's bedroom in Community. Main Drag music has a little vestibule with cool analogue synths, and a cafe run by Five Leaves will be open soon.

Donald Glover's 'Community' bedroom at RT

The store seems more in "must open" mode than "ready to open," as the record shelves are a little sparse right now. Prices for records are on the high side -- I saw very few less than $18 -- and they don't put records "on sale." But many of their featured items do come with "Rough Trade Exclusives," usually bonus discs which do add value. There are also no used records, which seems an odd choice to me given the way all other record stores in the area operate. Though in that way they're not so much treading on other's turf? They are, however, promising to stock imports, including the entirety of their 101 Albums of 2013... but that has not happened yet. (I was ready to buy the new Suede album, too.) I did buy the Morrissey book, which at $14.99 for an import seemed a bargain. Give it a month, and we'll hopefully see what the store is like.

I showed up too late for Sky Ferreira's live set, but there was a long line of people waiting to get their records/CDs signed. I watched a little bit from the mezzanine, as bf and DIIV frontman Cole Smith showed up to say hi. One fan asked if he would sign Sky's album too. He obliged, writing a note right on the most, uh, exposed area of the LP cover. Pretty funny.

I did, however, stick around to watch Charles Bradley. The performance space at Rough Trade is really nice. Official capacity is 250 but, with a seated balcony it felt bigger than that. There were ping pong tables in the back part of the balcony last night, that I'm told won't be there during ticketed shows (but will be available during the day). Lighting was good and the sound was better. Bradley has a pretty crack band who make any room sound good but I was really impressed with the acoustics. There are lots of small rooms in Williamsburg already, but this is a nice addition to the area.

Charles Bradley sounded fantastic. His years as a James Brown tribute artist have bestowed him with killer stage moves, and the dude just oozes charisma and soul. It was a real treat to see him in such a small room and the whole crowd was grinning the whole time. NYC will have two more chances to see Bradley in January.

Today (11/26) you can catch a free show from Danny Brown which happens at 5 PM. You do need to grab a wristband first which are available at the counter. Wednesday night (11/27, 7 PM) is a free in-store with Matthew E. White. Two shows from NYC legends Television will be Rough Trade's first ticketed shows (both are sold out).

In addition to having his bedroom there, Donald Glover will perform as Childish Gambino at Rough Trade on December 6. You need to buy a copy of his new album Because of the Internet. There will be a record signing following the performance.

Did you check out Rough Trade on opening day? What did you think? Buy anything?



Comments (70)

It's an impressive space and I will definitely be back to catch a show, but I doubt I'll ever buy anything there unless it comes with admission to an in-store performance. I didn't see any vinyl for under $20 (many records were over $30) and no CDs for under $15. Much better deals at Other Music or Academy or even J&R. A record store for The Edge crowd...

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:37 PM

why would anyone wait in line to see sky ferreira

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:37 PM

anyone who gives a shit about "Childish Gambino" is riding the L over from Manhattan or driving in from Jersey

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:38 PM

Wait--yesterday was November 30?

Posted by Regular reader | November 26, 2013 2:39 PM

How many strollers were in there?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:40 PM

This store is simply part of a greater homogenization of the music scene in NYC and should NOT be celebrated. Your money is better spent at great truly independent stores like Heaven Street, Record Grouch, Co-Op 87 Records etc

There is also no need for a Bowery Presents 250 cap venue in a stone's throw of great independent similar sized venues such as Saint Vitus, Knitting Factory, Death By Audio, Grand Victory, 285 Kent, Glasslands, Union Pool etc

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:44 PM

@Regular Reader,

No yesterday was 11/25. I just have a problem with numbers.


Posted by bill p | November 26, 2013 2:44 PM

It seemed more like a pop up shop than a real store.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:45 PM

can we talk about how they keep the rap CDs closest to the counter?

good look, guys!

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:46 PM

Cool space. Like the idea of the store opening, but selling only a small selection of full priced (some may say overpriced) brand new records that you can get anywhere else isn't going to be a very rewarding shopping experience for many music lovers. They will need to fill those racks with independent, import and/or used stuff to make it an actually interesting store.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:49 PM

I don't think the London stores have used vinyl either. At least I don't remember that but it's been a few years.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:59 PM

honestly none of the 'small' record stores like co-op 87 or permanent have good selections of current electronic or hip hop vinyl. other music has a decent selection of current electronic but so expensive!

how did it look at rough trade?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 2:59 PM

def no need to go to a store that doesn't have used records. I must be a noob, but I just had a very pleasant experience online w

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:03 PM

285 Kent and Glasslands should never be included on a list of great venues.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:04 PM

Do they make you check your bag? Cuz if they do: fuck dat.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:08 PM

i can get cheaper vinyl at urban outfitters

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:18 PM

Donald Glover's bedroom set from Community
has no value/cultural significance.

Nough said.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:20 PM

I LOVE the girl flipping through records in the second pic. Nice ass and legs, music fan - my dream girl. Latina? Asian? Flipina?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:23 PM

@3:04pm EXACTLY. 285 Kent is one of the worst sounding rooms in the entire city and Glasslands has become a douchey manhattan venue.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:24 PM

At least Main Drag is keeping a bit of real
local DNA in the space - otherwise...

Posted by Jizzy J | November 26, 2013 3:27 PM

Fuck Rough Trade and Fuck Bowery Presents.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:36 PM

ooo the wythe hotel of record stores

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 3:50 PM

Desperate much, 3:23?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 5:04 PM

@3:36 - goodness me, another counter-culture post-2010 arrival getting all fuckety on us

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 5:07 PM

Main Drag is also overpriced, so perfect fit.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 5:41 PM

Not sure if it was an import or already readily available, but I was happy to purchase the new Kraftwerk Biography.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 5:43 PM

@5:41 - how's your job at Guitar Center doing? Main Drag are a neighborhood staple - helped me out 100 times - just because you are too cheap to buy anything at market value - what a shmo

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 5:45 PM

The real takeaway from this post is that BV, or in particular one of its writers Bill Pearis, gave an honest assessment of Rough Trade, warts and all. This in spite of the fact that Rough Trade is a venue that BV will undoubtedly have to cover, Rough Trade is a label with acts that BV will have to cover, and the shows are produced by Bowery Presents, from whom BV will obviously need access to cover many shows.

I hope Bill doesn't get fired.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 6:19 PM

I was kind of disappointed that Bill didn't review the hummus platters. Are they robust? If at all, do they stock hummus?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 6:25 PM

Only half the hummus was there at opening - union contractors are slowly making the rest

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 6:28 PM

Thanks Bill for an honest article. It helps to know your thoughts as we get ready to come down for Back to Black Friday Record Store Day.


Posted by Edward Jennings | November 26, 2013 7:33 PM

wow a store with higher prices than academy annex.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 7:52 PM

Music offer needs some work but it's a good space and the venue is great. No one really gives a fuck about the prices if they get a decent selection

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 8:45 PM

It's a record store that serves beer. Does anyone need anything more

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 8:47 PM

8:47- where does it say they serve beer?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 8:51 PM

Burger King in Bushwick is dope as fuck fyi. If you go there late night with beers the MGMT will give you free cups to drink them.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 8:55 PM

wow....when its cheaper to go to earwax....which btw- i think they lowered their prices when they moved.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 9:08 PM

yeah, fuck those corporate whores at rough trade and their desire to sell vinyl! and fuck seeing great bands (sometimes for free) in a much smaller space than they would normally play, where people don't talk over the band the whole time. i'd rather see 80s cover bands, excuse me hot new indie bands, in a shithole with "integrity." because williamsburg is where the counterculture lives!

Posted by nspx | November 26, 2013 9:34 PM

9:34 has probably never dug for a record in his life.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 9:52 PM

This is what happens when you let the gays marry! Rest in peace Brooklyn!

Posted by Carl Paladino | November 26, 2013 9:54 PM

I just realized that Frohawk is the host of Cocktalk on Newtown Radio.
Cock Talk - LIVE on RIGHT NOW! Call in at 347-725-4163! PMS show, sexy jobs, stupid questions, you know...

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 10:00 PM

Fro to the hawk

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 10:01 PM

The Gambino bedroom is the most stupid thing I've ever seen. It makes no sense other than being a complete waste of space. Really?

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 10:15 PM

bitch, 9:43 was crate digging before you was born! but the last time anyone had to "dig" for in brooklyn record store (other than the thing) was like 15 years ago. i'm just saying that acting like this is tower records is ridiculous, and i welcome any space that brings good live music into a reasonably-sized setting with a lot of shows that are under $15.

Posted by nspx | November 26, 2013 10:41 PM

I'm glad Rough Trade set up shop in NY. What I read in the NY Times seems promising. I think it's too soon to cast judgement. Maybe 6 months from now you could review how they are doing. Let them stretch their legs first.
A new venue, record store, and art space in one sounds good to me.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 10:50 PM

Art space? They have Donald Glover's bedroom from Community.

Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2013 11:06 PM

I went on a Linsane buying spree there today. As I was stuffing many vinyls into my messenger bag as I was leaving one of the employees asked me what kind of music I listened to. LOL, what the fuck is music?

Posted by Anonymous | November 27, 2013 12:54 AM

Do they have the Frozen soundtrack there?

Posted by xxX_I_Love_Elsa_Xxx | November 27, 2013 3:57 AM

Eh, it's a tourist space. Bedford is for tourist and rich yuppie parents now. Which is fine, I guess there's no sense bitching over what's over.

The upside to me is that there is a music space in Brooklyn to compete with Glasslands and hopefully drive them out of business. Those people are such douchebags. Brooklyn music will be much improved with them and Popgun gone. Yes, I even prefer Bowery Presents to those assholes.

Posted by Anonymous | November 27, 2013 10:02 AM

BIIIIIIIIIIG ANNOUNCEMENT FOR BROOKLYN VEGAN (and what better thread to post it in than a thread about the overpriced, nothing one could't get online cheaper, used, or for free via torrents and YouTube, zero used records carrying, local music hating, fake independent/wannabe Tower Records complete with token Bowery Presents booked live music venue which will book only the classic boring, tame, wannabe 120 Minutes hipster rock like Diiv record store Rough Trade NYC?)

I, D, the poster you love to hate to love to like to dislike or give two shits about yet you constantly dog me like I fucked your wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter/
whatever special female in your life
HAVE CREATED AN EMAIL which will be posted EXCLUSIVELY in Brooklyn Vegan comments and will be posted under EVERY SINGLE FIRST COMMENT I POST IN A THREAD.

That email is...drumroll please...

I will read messages sent from Gmail addresses only. Yahoo is for yahoos, AOL is for AHOLES, Outlook is just the new Hotmail and unnecessary when there's Gmail, and any other free email services are just like WHAAA??? Exceptions will be people writing from websites.

I will most likely check this email address and/or reply to whoever only once a week (most likely Friday the end of my work week.)

Go to it. BTW I may or may not report threats to Gmail (most likely not.) I most likely will not reply unless you have something real to say like I do every time I post on here.

So again...

Posted by D | November 27, 2013 3:11 PM

Can we discuss Frozen via email? Have you seen it yet?

Posted by xxX_I_Love_Elsa_Xxx | November 27, 2013 3:55 PM

hope this place absolutely CRUSHES 285 and Asslands into oblivion

Posted by Mr. Cooper | November 27, 2013 4:43 PM

^ Oh look everyone a Bowery Presents/Rough Trade intern/mole.

Posted by D | November 27, 2013 4:55 PM

get blintzed

Posted by blintz | November 28, 2013 5:02 AM

D for Deluded anyone cares about his Oscar the Grouch ramblings. Most likely never created anything other than disappointment and syphilis.

Posted by Anonymous | November 28, 2013 7:41 AM

D is such a stupid of pile of human waste (he probably gets off on comments like the one I just made, sadly) that he actually made me want to go to Rough Trade after having sworn off it already. Thanks a lot, idiot.

Posted by Anonymous | November 28, 2013 9:05 PM

I think he's Dave Hill's sock puppet, or some wannabe

Posted by Anonymous | November 28, 2013 10:34 PM

A used section would be appreciated, but I think the real strength of the place (aside from live music) is their import items.

I went there the other day and found the newest Wire LP (not widely available stateside, only limited on RSD) and the UK version of the Morrissey autobio. Works for me.

Posted by Anonymous | November 29, 2013 1:28 AM

main drag are a bunch of poser jerks who break shit and over charge. Do not bring them yr gear to fix.

Posted by Anonymous | November 30, 2013 3:54 PM

Son, my boy D got opinions that destroy you like 42 decks... And his unwavering comment stamina is proof he be shooting up on that golden brown colored hummus with uncut Phyto-Nuttients. Don't f*ck with D, or you get the D in the B... Knameen?

Posted by Anonymous | November 30, 2013 7:31 PM

7:31- You are not funny. You were never funny. Shut up, get out of your moms basement, and get career ambitions. No one enjoys your stupid humor except for you.

Posted by Anonymous | November 30, 2013 8:50 PM


Posted by Anonymous | November 30, 2013 11:57 PM

Good to see the same two anonymous trolls Southside paid to troll Main Drag's Yelp are on here too - well done, anonymous cowards!

Posted by Billy Extinero | December 2, 2013 2:00 PM

Keep on rocking, D. Enthusiasm like that could earn you Lady Foot Locker's much-coveted "employee of the week" award, if you play your cards right.

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2013 7:14 PM

Oh you pretentious little f**ks, yeah buy vinyl cause it shows how f**kin' cool you are.
I bet you weren't even a wink in your irresponsible parents eyes when Patti Smith, Television etc. rattled the bedrock of the island.

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2013 8:07 PM

Place looks awesome. Gambino stopped
by Arsenio Hall for an interview. Check out his performance:

Posted by Bobby | December 5, 2013 12:58 PM

Venue reeks of all the corporate money spent to set it up

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2013 7:02 PM

That shop looks empty!

RT in London is known as the most expensive "indie" shop in town. (ie. if others are selling a new LP for £13, RT will generally be £17 or higher - it certainly adds-up if you're buying a few records).

I like that pretty much everything's there (in London at least), but as you can do that on the internet these days (and usually at better prices) I don't really see the (RT) point?

Posted by Gary | December 8, 2013 10:38 AM

Saw Rough Trade in concert back in 83, they opened for Bowie. It was a good show.

Posted by Rose | March 3, 2014 4:44 AM

Charles would love that comparison, Michael. You are right, he sings with unfettered soul. His whole being is being put into every song. His lifestory is heartbreaking, but he is rising like a bird in triumph. Soul of America is the award-winning docu detailing his life story. It's here on youtube. Find the time to watch it, bro.

Posted by Ena | October 27, 2014 5:23 PM

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