Last night had to be the largest gathering of studded belts since the 2002 Warped Tour. Their affiliation with perpetually teenaged punk might've been a contradiction to the 1940s decor of the barroom it was being performed in, but an appropriately rambunctious one for an opening night. "Cheers to the death of Bruar Falls," proclaimed the fedora-ed Phil Dunphy look-alike in The Threads, raising a glass. (No one clapped and I made a face.) "And the birth of The Grand Victory." (Then people started clapping and I stopped making a face.) It was sad, but also sweetly hopeful for the shows to come.
It's true, after all, that Bruar Falls is a thing of the past, as much as it still sucks to admit. The parents' basement DIY feel and strung Christmas lights of the former space has been wiped away in favor of a polished wooden stage gently lit in red and Rosie-the-Riveter style propaganda posters, so that when bands play, they have handsome pilots and phrases like, "You give us the fire, we'll give 'em hell" staring back at them from the walls. With the stage now sitting squarely in the corner, no longer at an angle, the benches removed from the sides, and a relocated sound booth, the space has magically opened up while still giving patrons a sense they're within spitting distance to the bands, which is always kinda nice.
That awkward disconnect between the bar and the performance area though? That's still a thing, as it was for Bruar Falls. The chasm dried up as more people filed through the doors and more drinks were poured, but when openers The Dead Tricks started in on their pridefully unmelodic Dr. Martens punk, the venue's layout, with the bar leading to the stage like a cramped hallway, delineated into competing spaces. There were clearly people there for the band, and clearly people there for the bar. (There's still that one choice booth up by the stage, though, perfect for both.)
As expected with any venue on its first night out of the gate, there were some sound issues — bring earplugs; tinnitus is a very real thing, as I can attest today. And I'm sad to report I couldn't find a jukebox. I was told by a bartender that the noise curfew still (understandably) stands at midnight — a factor that Bruar believes contributes to their demise — though the very nice sound sound guy didn't seem to have been clued into that yet? There were also violations of indie-rock secrets #22 and #23 on behalf of the bands, but...
But in what was a heartwarming, increasingly odd occurrence for Williamsburg, Brooklyn, those bands had rallied together a crowd that spanned age and species: There were Patti Smith-looking hippie punks, Hot Topic punks, classic Wiliamsburg hipsters, a couple polite-looking L.L. Bean catalog subscribers... all gathered to usher in a new neighborhood hangout. All things considered, that's not a bad way to have kicked things off.
Photos by Nadia Chaudhury
Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.