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. First up, a look at all that Greenpoint has to offer:
Where to See It
At the Polish National Home, in the Polish immigrant landing pad of Greenpoint, we have Warsaw, one of the longest-running rock-oriented venues in the city and likely the only one that serves pierogies with its punk, as they proudly attest, making the club’s high ceilings and clear sightlines a secondary bonus. Just a few blocks away is Brooklyn Bazaar, one of the city’s newest concert spaces, functioning dually as a pop-up flea market, mini-golf course, and upscaled food-and-drink court on weekends when shows tend to be free.
If we’re talking drinks, Bar Matchless has become a staple watering hole, juggling karaoke, foosball, pool, darts and a late-night kitchen in the front room with (mostly) local bands and comedy showcases in the back. Coco 66 has reemerged from dingy club to bistro-event space hydra-head, seeing more than a few recognizable New York names come through on special occasions–Sleigh Bells and M.I.A., anyone? Europa and Saint Vitus are your best bets for metal and hardcore–the former transforming into a Polish disco on Saturday nights, the latter dabbling in more and more indie-rock fare.
In the opposite stylistic direction is Manhattan Inn, a dapper piano bar (there’s a cocktail called “Grace Kelly” on the menu, so) with free performances on Wednesdays and Sundays from artists muddling traditional genres: James Chance, Hamilton Leithauser and Nat Baldwin have seen their way there in the last few years. For more free shows, the renovated warehouse of skater dreams that is House of Vans hosts some of the most Pitchfork-iest bands throughout the summer, with only a RSVP required of you.
Where to Buy It
As Williamsburg record stores relocate to the other side of McCarren Park in the face of rising rents, Greenpoint has blossomed into the city’s best destination for crate digging. Hey, silver linings. North 6th refugee Academy Record Annex stands as the borough’s largest independent music store, buying and selling new and used LPs at fairly reasonable prices. It joins ever-quaint Permanent Records and used-record specialists Record Grouch as neighborhood strongholds against the boxed stores of yesteryear.
The Thing, essentially a garage sale spun out of control, can sometimes beat out the area’s more traditional shops for its sheer number of cheap LPs crammed in the basement. Otherwise, stamp-sized Co-Op 87–with a stock carefully curated by label heads at Mexican Summer and Captured Tracks and a former manager at Academy Records–is pretty damn great. For albums direct-from-label-to-you, there’s Captured Tracks retail shop, whose merchandise expands beyond the CT roster to include new and vintage recording equipment, art books and plenty more. And in the heart of all the brick and mortar, online indie record mecca Insound packs and ships from their offices on Greenpoint Avenue.
Where to Make It
…At the Brooklyn Guitar and Drum Studio for Women and Girls, an one-stop shop for female musicians (dudes are also welcome) at every stage in the game. Owned and operated by The Julie Ruin guitarist Sara Landeau, members can learn how to play via private lessons, group courses, and a library of teaching materials. From there, there’s studio space available.
Where to Get Signed (or to Get a Job)
On the industry side of things, homegrown record labels Mexican Summer and Captured Tracks call Greenpoint home, as does Pitchfork’s Brooklyn HQ.
Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.