As Mike reported yesterday, word has started to circulate of the death of independent promoter Ariel Panero. It’s safe to say that at the age of 25, he had already established himself as a jack-of-all-trades within the New York music community (there’s a great profile piece on him here), as manager to Brooklyn band Grooms, guitarist in local Ariel Pink-worshipping outfit Tough Knuckles, and organizer of out-of-the-ordinary shows with his punchily titled, doggedly DIY booking group Less Artists More Condos.
With LAMC, he masterminded shows on boats, in firehouses, and in Catholic churches. There was the one where Sleigh Bells played in Damon Dash’s office basement, and the other one where Eryka Badu played at the Chelsea Hotel. There was Wavves’ debut in the LAMC West Village loft space, the Kurt Vile appearance at The Shank during Northside, the show on the pirate ship, and the one that brought hundreds of kids to a barely lit parking lot in Chelsea to see The Smith Westerns. In the end, he created the kind of experience that made the New York music scene the envy of every music-lover outside the five boroughs. Year after year, droves of kids move here, not necessarily because of what’s happening at Music Hall of Williamsburg on any given night, but because of what’s happening in sweaty underground places ran by people with a lot of creativity and heart. We asked some figures in the scene to share their thoughts on the man who was responsible for so much of it.
Ariel was exciting to be around; he was fun and he was driven. He would come to me with seemingly impossible show ideas but then always managed to pull them off. He approached his work with a sense that, “Yeah, there might be consequences, but the good and fun will outweigh the fallout because we have the right spirit, and if I don’t try and get this done it’ll never happen.” One of Ariel’s most triumphant moments in my eyes was when he somehow convinced the skipper of Clipper City to let all the Famous Class bands charter the boat for a quarter of the usual price. The feeling was unforgettable, sailing around the Statue of Liberty, having a beer with Ariel, and watching friends play and dance. Last year he began working with me at Famous Class, helping us take some big steps forward. It breaks my heart that he isn’t going to see the results of everything we worked on together. He was a dear friend and a brother.
-Cyrus Lubin of Darlings
I met Ariel in line for a Yeah Yeah Yeas concert in 2006, which began a long string of coincidental meetings and stimulating encounters over the last handful of years. Ariel thrived on the indie scene and vice versa. His creative drive was special, and he exhausted every musically related outlet until he found what worked and felt best for him. He was savvy and bold, and I’m confident he lived a lifetime of powerful and worthwhile experiences despite his young age of passing.
-Alex Pellerano of QuietColor.com
As promoters, we — Last Friday, that is — had a lot of respect for Ariel as a producer of outstanding events, and I’m glad I eventually got a chance to get to know him very closely. He was always very interested in our take on show biz, and I was flattered, to be honest, to have been the center of his attention so often because I thought so very highly of him. I knew he was doing extraordinary things before I even knew his name. I should have told him that. Our thoughts go out to his family in what is surely the most difficult, unbearable time of all.
-Seva Granik of Last Friday
I’ve always had a high amount of respect for him as someone who was honest, fair and generous when it came to dealing with artists (which is rare). He was a really charming individual and definitely held in high esteem in the local music community. Just how it should be.
-Tammy Hart of Last Friday
I didn’t know Ariel well — he was friends with my buddy and partner at Quiet Color and we met several times because of that — but I will say he was always supportive of our little blog and what we were trying to do, and that kind of support doesn’t come easy.
-Kevin Diamond of QuietColor.com and the band Shark?
Peter and I went to see a Tough Knuckles show a while back at Coco 66. There were a handful of people there and the Knucks gave a traditionally shambolic performance, the kind they’re known for and what gives that band such charm. After they finished, we went outside for some fresh air (i.e. to piss on the street). I’d recently signed up to join another band on tour, only to be told three days before the first show that my services would no longer be needed on guitar. I was none too happy about it. Ariel offered his condolences and assured me that something horrible would happen to them on that tour. He also confided to me that he’d been sending anonymous hateful text messages to the person that had cut me loose. Because that’s what friends are for. They watch your back while you piss on the street and they wish the worst upon your enemies.
– Joseph Tirabassi of Darlings
He was a very nice and easygoing, really easy to talk to, and he was honest. He had an amazing smile — this huge Chechire Cat grin. -Aaron Pfannebecker of Sisters
When I first went to Less Artists More Condos shows, Newtown Radio wasn’t even a thought in my head. What Ariel put together was truly an inspiration for what we’ve created. He was one of the first to prove that you don’t need a ton of money or hook-ups to create something really kick-ass in this scene.
-Mark Brinda of Newtown Radio
Ariel was a pretty inspiring guy. He brought good people together, and I think that’s an honorable thing to do. Both Less Artists More Condos and True Panther Sounds
We had only met once or twice, but I always had a ton of respect for him. He was really doing it and his work meant a lot to a lot of people. It’s always a terrible feeling to lose one of your peers.
-Adam Reich, booker for Shea Stadium
Ariel was a crazy talented person. He would pull off really crazy shows without a lot of resources. He just kind of willed it to happen, which is often all you need to do. Far too few people are brave enough to actually try. I feel like he was personally responsible for virtually every cool DIY show in Manhattan for the past few years. It’s strange to think of this little world we are a part of going on without Ariel.
-Matt Conboy of Death by Audio and the band Sisters
There will be a public service for Panero this weekend,
location TBA. UPDATE: A memorial service in honor of Ariel will be held at the Montauk Club in Park Slope, Brooklyn this Sunday, December 12th at 1pm. All are welcome. The Montauk Club is located at 25 Eighth Avenue. Check famousclass.com for more information.
And, lastly, the final thing he ever recorded, appropriately subdued and swirling.