“Goodbye Bruar Falls. We’re done. Bruar Falls is over,” says the woodchuck in a pink striped tie who just finished fronting a set with Brooklyn’s most whimsical chamber pop outfit, Friend Roulette. Someone in the audience shouts out, “Thank you, Bruar Falls!” Other than that, it was pretty much business as usual during the course of the night — the last to take place at the Williamsburg haunt, part jukebox bar, part concert venue — with the obvious exception of the hippy-gypsy dance crew (more on them later) and the woodchuck (beaver, technically, we were told at the beginning of the set) and other Halloween costumes mingling onstage and off. Ending a two-and-an-half-year run was no big blowout, no big teary goodbye — just a bill exemplifying what seems to have been the venue’s guiding principle from the onset: booking locally sourced bands deserving of your attention and charging no cover to come check ‘em out.
And so the night begins with Clouder (though actually it began with a band called KNTRLR, but I underestimated the amount of time it’d take for a bus to get to Williamsburg on Halloween night, my bad). Clouder dives into the 60s psych thing head-deep, dragging songs through the sludgier, heavier aspects of it. The Joey Ramone-crossed-Gordon Gano-looking singer in particular really latched onto the rock swagger that a lot of his psych-leaning contemporaries seem to forget existed during the era, dragging a mic into the crowd to poke his finger at much-obliged audience members, beer can staunchly in hand. With a gravelly, rock-weathered voice, he holds the crowd — who seems to be made up of a good number of friends — in the palm of his hand.
Soon enough, Clouder’s crowd disperses to the back bar, a new one filters towards the stage, and Huntronik sets up in front of the cobwebby curtains and white tube lights. What begins as squarish, 8-bit-infused pop from a duo on drums and synths/guitar gradually works its way into a band bidding to take over for Parts & Labor after their forthcoming hiatus. Huntronik may be in a fledgling stage now, but when the programmed beats and guitar meet up with swinging drums in one pulsing, interlocked unit, there’s a promising glimpse of what might come.
It’s only fitting that Bruar’s final band packs the tight quarters of the stage with six members (two of which double in ARMS and Frances), all dutifully in costume, while the crowd finally reaches packed conditions. And that the band comes with a dance crew. Who do lifts and stuff. While Friend Roulette globetrots through Parisian, Arabian and 18th century influences onstage, there’s a core group of five or six dancers right below them, slowly moving to the music via mix of jam-band hippy dance, snake charming, and something seen in Cirque du Soleil. They’re taking their jobs very seriously. This, in turn, confuses some of the crowd while invigorating the rest. The group to my right are straight-up headbanging. Little by little, more people give into the dancers’ persuasion. By witching hour, it’s reached a surreal, celebratory atmosphere appropriate for a bar with just another hour or so left in its lifespan. As quick as that, though, the music is a wrap. At least we’ve still got Cake Shop.
Side note: What happens to all that liquor? And, more importantly, that jukebox? The one that churns out “Jenny & the Ess-Dog,” Deerhunter and The Ramones like liquid? Is it for sale? Can I have it?