I blame the years and first impressions. Sometimes the reality that the neighborhood formally known (In my mind) as Williamsburg is not a river hugging no-man's land between a wet and a hard place. That union workers don't process sugar in the cross hatched shadow of the bridge anymore. Supposedly religious men don't troll for underage fair along the underlit south streets. Blue flickering broadcasts don't illuminate the retired and retiring working class couples front windows like they used to. And Kent Avenue isn't the more western of two parallel and nearly always desolate blocks, lined with yesterday's industry. I forget about today.
Today is the last night StudioBPM will be open on Kent Avenye. It's a classic and literally hole in the wall were local and far a field musicians have grooved for over ten years ago by some not as young as they used to be folk from the land of the rising sun.
The space is sweet, not being a musician I speak from the peanut gallery which works because it's got a gallery's boxy fit coyly suggesting hidden sonic treasures to be found and it's smallness floor level stage make you feel like your in the coolest living room being treated just because life can be good.
All the players of the last ten years and more in the undiscovered (often widely "discovered" soon after though) crowd has played there, Apollo Heights, TV on The Radio, Dub Nomads, Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble and many more. Set lists were discarded or non-existant, videos accompanied, enhanced or distracted, Dub was plentiful by Rock, Soul and various experimental sonic cocktails had their nights and a good time was had by all.
The first time I got to know StudioBPM was shortly after they opened in 2002. The entrance was just some doorway with a guy standing there, he didnt ask me for anything and his sole presence on the block gave me a little confidence that this non-descript one level light industrial building was what I was lookign for. Shortly after entering the door I felt I was going to some combination of dungeon, level of Hell, Wizard chamber, which on a given not it could be. From the entrance you'd quickly descend some stairs and endup walking threw dirt (or mud if it had rained) and as soon as you reached this short trip to the pit, you were walking right back up again in to the narrow lounge space the preceded the venue. It was trippy the definition of grit, weird, disconcerting, exciting, bold. Perfect. Nightlife like New York City used to exude on the regular. That it was 2002, post Millenium, Post the dark day in September, post "Hipster" in the lexicon, made it all the more wonderful to the native New Yorker I am.
A few weeks back I attended a gathering and performance of "The Brunt Sugar Arkestra Chamber" who were honoring member and Saxophonist "Moist" Paula Henderson of "Moisturizer" & "Rev. Vince and the Love Choir" fame. The performance made me woozy in that feel good took me away and showed me the sights kinda style. And it was then (late) I learned that the forces of real estate in WillyB were forcing them to shut there doors.
I asked one of the staff, part of the fantastically warm and charitable Japanese crew behind Studio Bpm and this guy in particular of the fantastic type uber laid back to the point of stand-slumber Japanese dudes I'd known and cherished in Tokyo, if they were really closing and he nodded. "What's next?" my slack-jaw asked, his laid back posture, held, levitated and then laid forward, just a bit as he replied,"I dunno. Umm. Condo?"
Internally I thought,"How the fuck can you put a condo in a place like.." was the point where my mind caught on and up to the day we're in. Zoning laws had changed, much begat a change in positioning for a new not-so-hipster newcomer, which unleashing a waterfront flood not much different than Sandy for a lot of people. I left the staffer, the electric spark of funk soul and improvisation still with me courtesy of the generous musicians, but when I did the "v" stairs and exited the building I noticed, for the first time, despite being a new Williamsburg visitor, the condos, across the street, up and down the block, I'd come out of a time warp and and like many before me ran out of time.
Tonight's the StudioBPM Bye-Bye. Make it or miss it. 237 Kent Avenue btw Grand & N1st 9pm until https://www.facebook.com/studiobpmforjapanhttps://www.facebook.com/studiobpmforjapan