Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Venuewatch: Vice drives out Death By Audio?

Williamsburg venue Death By Audio is closing. They announced it like this:

After seven years of operation Death By Audio will close on November 22, 2014. Running this space has been an incredible undertaking and a joy since day one. We have been fortunate enough to host bands from all over the US and the world nearly every night of the week. Amazingly, we've hosted in excess of 1000 acts a year for the past seven years. The effect pedal company will remain open and relocate to a temporary space until we find a more permanent home.

When we first moved onto south 2nd street the only things on our block were a used police car lot and several empty buildings. Now there are a half dozen expensive restaurants, bars, a daycare center and a new condo building (that was an empty lot when we moved in). All ages DIY music venues are almost by definition temporary, and we feel fortunate to have lasted in this space for this long. We knew from the beginning that it couldn't last forever and we are extremely grateful to everyone who has preformed or attended any of our shows. We are still weighing options about what happens next and will let everyone know more about the future of Death By Audio as soon as we can.

Our closing party starts Wednesday Sept 10 and we will have great programing for these last 75 days. We are looking forward to putting on some really incredible shows to send off what has been one of the greatest undertakings of our lives. We hope to see you there.

Edan and Matt

P.S. If you're in Hot Snakes please get in touch.
So they're going without rancour, and the tale of 'grassroots venue eventually forced out by the very improvements to their area their presence helped generate' won't be surprising to anyone who follows any music scene in a city.

Part of the reason things got tougher for DBA was Vice's expansion in the same building. Impose reported on this back in July:
DBA manager Edan Wilber also confirmed that they did not have plans to be moving anytime soon, but added, “We’ll see how that goes when our lease is up.”

While it remains to be seen if either venue withstands the test of time (or the more pressing threat of neighbors like VICE driving up the cost of rent), this news means that local music fans will still be able to see shows in two of Williamsburg’s best venues for at least a little while longer.
Only a little while longer in the case of DBA, it turns out.

Obviously, it's not Vice's fault - a successful business needs space, and a rising tide lifts all rents and so on.

But... as Brooklyn Vegan pointed out, Vice got given $6.5million in tax breaks to remain in Williamsburg which, when space is being parcelled out, might be seen as giving an unfair advantage to the already cash-rich media organisation over a sweat-and-love driven local venue.