Neighborhood Music Guide: Dumbo

photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

On account of a few variables, namely the mainstream media and your one friend who lives on Bedford Avenue, it’s possible you’ve been duped into believing the only place contributing to Brooklyn’s musical eminence is Williamsburg. Enter an ongoing series of neighborhood spotlights, in which we’ll highlight notable music-related places in each area to prove this is untrue. It’s a hyper-local visiter’s guide for the music enthusiast that doubles as an “I-lived-here-for-10-years-and-didn’t-know-that-was-there” tip sheet. Music, and its many businesses, is everywhere in this borough — which is maybe the best part about living here. Today, a look at all that Dumbo has to offer:

Where to See It

Between performances of Dumbo’s resident Cirque du Soleil-esque cabaret Floating Kabarette, wedding receptions, album release parties, live podcasts, and other cultural odds and ends, Galapagos Art Space occasionally hosts live music in varied forms, from jazz quartets to the Brooklyn Philharmonic to a then-newly-Matador-signed Kurt Vile. Oh, and there’s a man-made lake inside. (Dumbo’s quirks are hidden like that.) Down the block is St. Ann’s Warehouse, the rough gem of New York avant-garde. Music-driven performances dot the calendar, albeit these are grander in scale than typical concerts. Past runs include Lou Reed and John Cale performing their Andy Warhol concept album Songs for Drella and Karen O’s self-described psycho-opera Stop the Virgens.

Where to Buy It

For reasons we don’t quite understand but fully approve, Dumbo’s sole record store vaguely resembles a tree fort, what with the smooth wood paneling and Astroturf on the floor (see, Dumbo really is kinda quirky!), though Halcyon‘s greatest distinction isn’t its motif, but its niche stock of vinyl. Opened by DJ Shawn Shwartz 10 years ago, the shop is devoted to electronic music and the million subgenres that fall under its umbrella — afrobeat, dubstep, techno, hip-hop, funk, soul, disco and more. (There’s a smaller selection of standard indie-rock fare to boot.) Clerks are informed, but even better, obsessed with what they do.

Where to Make It

Well, there’s Treefort Studios, for one. In the raw, somewhat dingy space housed in a high-rise storage facility, local bands have found one of their go-to places to record, often under the eyes and ears of engineer/producer Shane Stoneback, who, say, lent a hand when Vampire Weekend worked on Contra there. For something more spiffy, Atlantic Sound Studios offers views of the Manhattan skyline and has a client list that includes Bjork, Q-Tip, Sufjan and St. Vincent.

Where to Get Signed (or to Get a Job)

There’s an unusual concentration of industry hubbub for an otherwise sleepy neighborhood. On the booking side of things, offices for Ground Control Touring, High Road Touring and AM Only are spread out by just a few blocks. Between them, the three companies handle all things booking-and-touring related for such heavyweights as Conor Oberst, Alabama Shakes and Disclosure, respectively. A stone’s throw away Mick Management reps the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Real Estate, Passion Pit, Lord Huron and more.

Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.


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