Punk Isn’t Dead It Lives In New York City
By Kate Hoos
Some people might be under the impression that the phrase “punk is dead” may be true, but it most definitely is not. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you heard some seriously fake news. What is true, is that in the squeeze of a rapidly gentrifying city- especially in Brooklyn- many venues have fallen prey to steadily rising rents and the pressure that comes with that. It has been felt particularly hard in the punk/indie music scene with beloved DIY venues closing at a startling pace over the last few years- Death By Audio, Shea Stadium, and most recently Silent Barn, just to name a few. The scene has managed to survive via other smaller lesser known DIY venues or house show spots who operate on an “ask a punk” basis. These are often places you need to be “in the know” to hear about but that also tend to come and go as fast as you can blink your eye.
Fortunately there are also a handful of bars mostly in Brooklyn but a few in Manhattan, devoting large swaths of their live event bookings to nights filled with local and touring bands alike. At these places newbies can rub elbows with life long punks to discover something new and take in the eclectic musical offerings to be had in NYC. Here is a sampling of the venues the punx gather at to find the latest local talent, support bands passing through town, and keep the small but thriving community alive:
Cobra Club is a rock n roll dive bar that sits directly next to the trendy spot House Of Yes so on any given night you’ll see fabulously costumed patrons walking down the street side by side with leather clad rockers heading to their destination. Tucked in the back of bar is a room where live bands play several nights a week, giving the local punk scene as well as smaller touring acts a place to incubate and build up their crowd. This spot also hosts comedy events and a popular karaoke party every Friday and Saturday late night.
On the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint sits this bar/bowling alley/live music venue combo where you can grab a brew, bowl a few frames, then catch some bands in the back. Dedicated to local artists, they are also very friendly to small touring acts passing through town. Located just down the block from an active rehearsal studio, there is a vibrant community of musicians you can find if you are looking to network, meet new people, or find bands you may not have heard of otherwise.
The Lower East Side may be past its punk heyday with legendary venues like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City long gone, but there is still action to be had. From the outside- and inside- you might not think you’ve entered into a punk place, with the clean front facade, nice wood work, and distinct lack of stickers and graffiti covering most surfaces but you would be wrong. Many locals hit the stage here with its groovy lighting, but though they are small, they also hosted The Longshot this past spring which is the side project of Billie Joe Armstrong who you might know from his little rock band Green Day.
BK Bazaar is a restaurant, venue, and karaoke spot all rolled into one. With multiple rooms, they can host different events simultaneously and you can even book your own private karaoke room. Mid sized national acts play in the main room, while smaller local bands hit the basement space. They often hold local markets with artists and craft vendors selling their wares. Goth rock legends Christian Death will be taking the stage on Halloween night.
Kate Hoos is a nerdy NYC photographer, writer and musician. She can usually be found at a punk show – either with a guitar of a camera in her hand- or petting as many bodega cats as she can find. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her blog is Hoosatron.com.