Posted in music | pictures on May 20, 2014

photos by Kyle Dean Reinford; words by Bill Pearis

Bob Mould / Ted Leo / AC Newman @ HiFi, 5/17/2014
Hi Fi 20th Anniversary
Hi Fi 20th Anniversary
Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Back in the '90s, most up-and-coming indie rock bands touring through NYC played either Mercury Lounge or Brownies. Mike Stuto started booking shows there in 1994, and became co-owner in 1998. (Full disclosure: I've known Mike from before his Brownies days, and the club was the first place I saw a show when I moved to NYC.) Pretty much everybody played there and it was the site of the infamous 1998 show by The Fall that ended in an onstage brawl, with frontman Mark E. Smith arrested. When the club closed in 2002, Stuto turned Brownies into HiFi, a bar with no live music but with a digital jukebox that, at the time (iPods were still a novelty), had an astounding number of songs.

HiFi underwent renovations last fall, adding a small performance room in the back with a bar, and a DJ booth to the front. With the 20th anniversary of his association with 169 Ave A, there was an invite-only "20 Years of Stuto" party at HiFi last Saturday (5/17) that doubled as a benefit for longtime bartender Rhea Buckner who has been battling cancer and incurred a lot of debt from it. You can donate too.

The evening featured a lot of live music, and all the acts had played at Brownies at one point or another. After an opening set from NYC vet Don Piper, we got Boy Morgan (which includes members of Robbers on High Street) who played some of their own '60s-leaning material before inviting up a host of guest vocalists: Will Sheff of Okkervil River did Nick Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind," AC Newman of New Pornographers did Wings' "Mrs. Vanderbilt" which was then followed by Ted Leo doing another Wings' song, knocking out "Band on the Run." Newman remarked, "New Pornographers' first New York show was here, as was my son's first birthday party."

Next up was former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty, which was followed by a short set from Ted Leo who told the crowd he probably wouldn't still be making music if it wasn't for Brownies' support and brought out the Pharmacists for a couple songs as well. Leo also brought up Stuto to do Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up" with the band.

Then out came Bob Mould who, even though it was just him and his electric guitar, was insanely, ear-bleedingly loud. I think his amp only has two settings: on or off. In addition to playing Sugar's "Hoover Dam" and "If I Can't Change Your Mind," we got a couple songs from his soon-to-be-released Beauty & Ruin. Then he brought back out Ted Leo + Pharmacists for a ripping rendition of Stiff Little Fingers' "Suspect Device."

The night's music ended with a set from Saratoga Springs power pop trio The Figgs who were the first band Stuto booked at Brownies. Their set also included some guests: Ben Smith (The Brought Low/Sweet Diesel) sang Small Faces' "Song Of A Baker," Jesse Malin (D Generation) sang the Stones' "Do Do Do Do Do (Heartbreaker)" and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate/Baseball Project) and his wife, Linda Pitmon (on drums) came out for a cover of Lou Reed's "Coney Island Baby."

It was a very fun night and pictures from all the above are in this post. As mentioned, HiFi is hosting live music now in its very small (35 capacity) back room, nothing with drums and nothing as loud as Bob Mould. They host readings and other performances too and you can check their schedule here.

More pics from Saturday's party below...

---

IMAGE

Don Piper

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

HiFi/Brownies owner Mike Stuto

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Boy Morgan

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Will Sheff

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

AC Newman

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Ted Leo

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

 

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Mike Doughty

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Bob Mould & Mike Doughty

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Rhea Buckner

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Bob Mould

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

IMAGE

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

The Figgs

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Ben Smith

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Jesse Malin

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Steve Wynn

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

Hi Fi 20th Anniversary

---

      

Comments (23)

It's amazing this club never got it's due in music history. LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (among many others) all cut their teeth there.

Posted by texastab | May 20, 2014 2:51 PM

i saw mogwai and neutral milk hotel there...before their 8000th reunion show at the beacon theatre.

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 3:00 PM

its not it's

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 3:02 PM

Brownie's eventually became a good space with good sound. Saw many shows there.

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 3:09 PM

Indie senior center

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 3:14 PM

The Brought Low are a seriously underrated band.

Posted by Smack | May 20, 2014 3:19 PM

Mike Stuto

Reppin Ithaca College WICB radio 4 lyfe

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 3:27 PM

great bar never close

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 3:41 PM

There's money in new wave

Posted by bearsville | May 20, 2014 3:53 PM

Glad their event was a success- the owner and staff have always been really nice.

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 4:01 PM

The iPods were still a novelty?!? Are you kidding?!?? The iPods are better than all these niggaz, and they are all more fit than Greg Dulli that's for sure.

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 4:12 PM

Nice to see the iPods mentioned.

Enjoyed seeing Vitapup at Brownies back in the mid 90s.

Posted by E.L. Fudge | May 20, 2014 4:12 PM

Come on Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 4:12 PM, we BV'ers try keep it green in here.

Posted by Mr. Foot Fetish | May 20, 2014 4:13 PM

where is my suspect device link?

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 4:19 PM

Brownies was a gay bar?

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 4:59 PM

Wait Foot Fetish thinks he's Greg Dulli?

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2014 5:00 PM

Jesse Malin wears a weave

Posted by swimfan | May 20, 2014 5:46 PM

Thank god Bob Mould still knows how to tear it up at high volumes. The kids need to break out the notebooks.

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2014 12:48 AM

Bob Mould wears a t-shirt with a bear on it, and no one notices? You folks are getting soft.

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2014 9:33 AM

Brownie's was a sorry little dump in a bland time for NYC live venues. turning it into a cheesy tourist bar was a wise move.

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2014 12:52 PM

You obviously never saw a show there, idiot.

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2014 1:15 PM

Brownies, not Bronys. Thank god

Posted by Anonymous | May 22, 2014 6:59 PM

Saw bob live a SXSW, got some HD video of new songs - http://youtu.be/-PmdE3xuVSw - http://youtu.be/L6jKaxAtfKk

Posted by Rick | May 26, 2014 10:47 PM

Leave a Comment