Another year, another vanished venue. This weekend, Williamsburg's underground but influential D.I.Y. music space 285 Kent closed its doors for the final time, with a rousing sendoff party played by the likes of dance-instigator Dan Deacon, shoegaze metal band Deafheaven, and Canadian punk screamers F----- Up.
Over its brief, three year lifespan, 285 Kent came to be known as one of the city's most reliable performance outposts for music's edgiest trendsetters. The vibe was lo-fi, vaguely legal, and truly diverse -- R&B acts like Blood Orange collided with indie rockers like Diiv, and everyone would end up sweating regardless of the tempo.
The New York Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica was in the audience for the farewell show, and explains why 285 Kent was a special spot on the New York City music map.
Watch F------ Up close 285 Kent with a cover of The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop":
Jon Caramanica, on 285 Kent's broad appeal:
Compare it to other venues that are maybe closely associated with a particular sound. That's something you're not going to see as much generationally -- it's not like CBGB at the height of punk. But because the sound of the young, cool New York... that sound is a more diverse sound, what you saw at 285 Kent were really diverse bookings.
I've seen hip-hop there, I've seen dance music there, I've seen metal there, I've seen fake '90s grunge revival there, I've seen indie rock -- I've seen basically anything you can see in that one space. You can argue that means it didn't have an identity, but I actually think that's very reflective of what the average 18-23 year old kid who's trying to be cool and is interested in new music, that's what their palate is like, and 285 reflected that.
On where the DIY movement goes next:
You can't get too sad about it. I'm sad because it's a place where I saw a lot of good shows. I like to have places that are reliable, places that I trust, bookers that I trust, venues that I trust, places with an aesthetic point of view. You obviously want to mourn when one of those places goes away. But the scene doesn't exist in a place, the scene doesn't exist in a room, the scene exists in the energy and passions of the kids who bring it to those spaces.