About 15 twenty-something hipsters stood outside, their colorful flannel shirts contrasting the dim grey of the desolate Bushwick block, when I arrived at Bushwick Music Studios Friday night. The boys were dressed in plaid shirts, tight pants and sneakers, sporting beards and handlebar mustaches. The girls mainly wore short skirts, leggings, and flats. Everyone talked loudly in clusters. An indie-rock band was playing inside.
As I chatted with the musicians who live at/run the studio, a steady stream of similarly dressed guests came to the door, begrudgingly doling out the $5 entrance fee and immediately purchasing a $2 can of PBR, the local beer of choice.
By the time the second band, Gunfight!, came on stage, the studio was packed. Probably close to 100 people filled the room. The singer, Drew Mintz, had large curly brown hair, wrapped in an American flag bandana that matched his red, black and white plaid shirt. The drummer began with a lively beat and the singer howled in a blend of country and punk. The packed crowd danced and cheered for about an hour and a half, the band maintaining their wild energy through the entire set.
Kittens Ablaze was another crowd pleaser. Tim Spellman was the drummer, tall and blond and dressed in plaid, and also the singer. Michelle Young, wearing a t-shirt, leggings, and high heels played the cello furiously. The strings gave the band a unique, orchestral sound. The songs were incredibly catchy and displayed a diversity of musical ability, from the chorus-filled “This Machine is Dying” to the melodic “Rabbit is a Live Wire.”
The party continued long into the night. A nearby venue had recently closed, and the bands set to play there came to Bushwick Music Studios instead, doubling the original lineup. Musicians came and left, lugging their heavy equipment on and off the stage. The crowd mingled loudly while drinking their PBR. The friendly BMS crew manned the door the entire night, checking people in while keeping an eye on the situation.
It wasn’t all roses and PBR’s that night. Police circled the block endlessly, their intentions unclear. Eventually they confronted some people for open alcohol. And the neighborhood isn’t always the safest, so people have to stay alert.
Despite its neighborhood challenges, Bushwick Music Studios has quickly become an integral part of the local music community. Although they only opened this past winter, they’ve become an immensely popular venue – probably about 150 people showed up Friday. As an alternative to profit-making music clubs throughout NYC, BMS offers young aspiring bands the opportunity to perform regularly, and boasts a state-of-the art recording studio. They host shows weekly, and try to be musically diverse, hosting DJ/reggae nights in addition to the ever-popular indie rock shows.
Next week’s Bushwick show review – the Last Supper Festival!