I’ll let you count the reasons yourself. But I’m serious. Death By Audio may be the best music venue that New York City has ever had. Sadly, the beloved DIY-style Brooklyn space is closing up at the end of November due to Vice taking over the entire block (Glasslands is also out) but it has had an amazing run.
My claim might seem like exaggeration. Certainly NYC has had a number of legendary music venues. There are probably some which can boast a more impressive list of legendary bands they’ve hosted (though DBA is no slouch on that front). But great bands are only a part of what makes a venue ITSELF great. The comments are open for any debate, but before formulating any argument, consider the following questions:
- Were the people who worked at the venue NICE?
- Were the bands always treated and paid fairly?
- Was the sound always great?
- Could you buy a drink for cheap?
- Did you feel safe and welcome there?
- Did shows start and end (mostly) on time?
- Would you get a response when you tried to book a show there?
- Did they give weird noise bands a shot?
- Would they book a band because they’re nice people and make great music even if they don’t have big “draw”?
- Was every show a bill where the bands had something in common and you’d want to see them all?
- Could bands run through the crowd or smash instruments without being kicked out or security intervening?
At Death by Audio the answer to every one of these was YES, and that’s not the end of my list. Unlike some similar DIY spaces, Death By Audio has been entirely music-focused with a dedicated room for bands to play in, of the perfect small-but-not-tiny size, with a stage (which bands can play on or not). Bands don’t have to worry about knocking an art installation off the walls or breaking the residents’ dishes. (I love those sorts of spaces too, but am still counting this as a plus.) Tireless booker and sound-guy Edan has always been incredibly easy to work with. He also happens to be my personal favorite between-band DJ. (At most shows I’ve been to he just puts on a Sightings album. Seriously, how could you do better?)
So, are there still any other contenders for NYC’s best music venue?
I’ll concede one negative: no outside space for smokers. There’s also no back stage or “green room” but seriously what kind of rock stars need that? So thank you Death By Audio for showing us a better way and let us hope more venues will follow in your footsteps. (There are some others carving out a legacy: Silent Barn, Shea Stadium, more) There are still some more shows coming up, most listed as “Special Guest” or “Top Secret” and which are guaranteed to be something great, so you should probably see as many as you can.
I’ve collected some of my favorite photos taken in recent years at Death by Audio HERE.