Brooklyn Steel, a first look at the venue opening this week (pics)
After years of talk and planning, Bowery Presents’ newest venue, Brooklyn Steel, is finally set to open on Thursday (4/6) in East Williamsburg with a five-show run from LCD Soundsystem. While the venue was rushing to finish things up for Thursday’s grand opening, Bowery Presents’ Jim Glancy and John Moore took a few minutes to show us around their new baby on Monday morning. Pictures* are in the gallery above.
While all Bowery Presents venues tend to have a similar vibe, Brooklyn Steel feels a little different than anything else they’ve got in NYC. The main room, which has a movable stage allowing for capacities of 1800, 1500 or 1200 depending on the show, feels a little wider and less boxy. Towards the back of the room there’s a raised platform (similar to Music Hall of Williamsburg), and the balcony railings spread out like a V as they go closer towards the stage allowing for more natural sightlines. “Sound and sightlines are always our biggest priority,” said Moore. “We wanted to have everyone be able to see well, but also to have some soul and character to it.”
Character comes from repurposing some of the fixtures found in the building’s former self as a steel works factory (which it was up until about five years ago), including fans and windows, some of which are now part of Brooklyn Steel’s three bars. There’s also repurposed corrugated metal (a la Rough Trade) in the venue’s foyer entry space on Debevoise Ave. The entry space feels about as big as Mercury Lounge, and should allow concertgoers not to have to wait on the street.
Through there is the main lobby, with a large bar, dedicated merch booth and doorway to the main room. The lobby also leads back, up a few stairs, to a mezzanine with coat check and large bathrooms (each with about 20+ stalls). Also in the lobby is the large, wide staircase that leads upstairs to the balcony. An elevator, painted in black and yellow hazard stripes (shades of New Order/Factory’s famed venue The Hacienda) is on the far side of the lobby as well.
LCD Soundsystem’s flight cases took up most of the main room’s floor while we were visiting, while hammering and sawing could be heard in the background. The giant discoball above the stage is LCD’s too, though Glancy says they’ve got one of their own on order. Having them play has been in the works for a while. “LCD were on a super, super, super shortlist of bands we wanted to open Brooklyn Steel,” Glancy said. “We wanted a New York band. We wanted a band that Bowery had a relationship with. Last summer when a late winter/spring opening came into view, that’s when we started having conversations. They were curious about the idea and we confirmed the dates right after Thanksgiving. We are excited beyond belief.”
In addition to the LCD shows, Brooklyn Steel’s initial schedule is fairly stacked, with The Decemberists, PJ Harvey, Chairlift, Goldfrapp, Whitney, Mitski, Tycho, Slowdive, The Jesus and Mary Chain and more. “Our first 100 days are way more exciting than Trump’s first 100 days,” joked Glancy, admitting he’s been wanting to use that line for a while, and says more show announcements are due soon.
Glancy and Moore don’t seem too concerned about the impending the L Train shutdown. “If it was happening in six weeks, that might be a different story. We also think a lot of our audience is already out here. People will walk, bike, drive, take Ubers. We should be established in two years when the actual shutdown hits. If we have a great show, people will find a way here.”
Today also maked the announcement that [Bowery Presents owners) AEG and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment would be buying Webster Hall and Bowery would be booking it once again. “When we first visited the Brooklyn Steel space, almost four years ago to the day, we were still booking shows at Webster and we envisioned Brooklyn Steel complimenting what we have in Manhattan, Terminal 5 and Webster Hall, the same way Bowery and Music Hall complement each other,” said Glancy. “The fact that it’s come back around and been announced this week, is crazy. And fantastic. I’m super excited.” When asked if things will change at Webster, like their many club nights, Glancy said it’s too soon to say. “We’ve been so busy here. Ask me next week!”
Mostly, Moore and Glancy seem excited to get Brooklyn Steel finally open and having live music. “We think we got it right,” says Glancy. “In terms of the smaller details, we’ll see when we get 1800 people in here this weekend.”
* A note about the pictures: With parts of Brooklyn Steel still under construction and LCD Soundsytem’s gear taking up a lot of the main performance space, we were limited to what we were allowed to photograph.
photos by Amanda Hatfield