Indie Music Showcase Arrives in Crown Heights

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The slew of music venues that closed in Brooklyn in 2014, from Death by Audio to Glasslands to Goodbye Blue Monday, made the outlook for independent music in the borough somewhat dreary. But don’t despair, music lovers. When the going gets tough, the tough get creative. Take, for example, musician Eric Vitoff, a Crown Heights resident who has been working to build a semi-monthly independent music showcase in a warehouse-like venue on Atlantic Avenue.

The showcase, the Crown Heights Music Extravaganza (“‘Extravaganza’ was the best ‘e’ word I could think of for event,” Vitoff laughed) or “CHIME” for short, kicked off in October. By the second one, in December, the crowd had swelled even larger. And for the third installment, which will be on January 30 at The Kymberle Project, he predicts to be the largest one yet. “At first, I was just booking bands that I knew, or that I had heard of,” Vitoff told me. “Then people started spreading the word. For this lineup, I had my pick of a bunch of groups.”

Vitoff began CHIME after a friend introduced him to Kymberle Joseph, who runs the Kymberle Project, a mixed-use performance space on Atlantic Avenue between Nostrand and New York Avenues. Joseph asked if Vitoff would be interested in playing at the Project.

“I took one look at the space and I thought I don’t just want to do a show, I want to do a night with a whole lot of bands,” Vitoff said.  “Because of the rawness of the space, I knew I would have a lot more creative control, more so than any existing venue really.” Plus, Vitoff happens to live on more or less the same block as the space, which made it a pretty ideal venue. Plus, Vitoff said, it’s the kind of event that is inviting but still maintains a cool factor. Now, not only are bands playing, but artists show off their latest creations (CHIME III features art by Indigo Artist Collective) and attendees can silkscreen t-shirts as well, courtesy of House of One Love.

“What people are beginning to appreciate about CHIME is it’s an event that has a vibe of something you’d expect in Bushwick. It has this warehouse-y underground thing. It’s part Bushwick cool underground and part just good cool people,” he said.

CHIME is going so well that Vitoff is planning  a whole weekend event in early April at the space. But he has even bigger dreams. “I’m starting to talk to managers of businesses on Franklin, Bedford, and Nostrand doing something in August that’s like a mini-festival,” Vitoff said. The main stage would be at the Kymberle Project, but other bands might be playing at other venues scattered along the Franklin Avenue corridor, like a tiny South by Southwest set in Crown Heights. Will Vitoff be turning CHIME into a neighborhood staple? “Hell yeah,” he said. “Absolutely.”

CHIME III is at the Kymberle Project on January 30. For more details, go here

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