Part jukebox bar, part concert venue, Bruar Falls hosted its final show on Halloween night, serving another blow to Williamsburg’s music scene. In April 2009, opening a Cake Shop spin-off boasting locally sourced lineups, often with no cover, in Brooklyn’s musical hub seemed like a foolproof plan. Turns out it wasn't. Co-owner and booker Andy Bodor looks back on Bruar’s two-and-an-half year run. (Photo of Air Waves at Bruar Falls by Diana Wong)
All in all, has it seemed like a quick two and an half years since opening Bruar, or has the amount of work that went into it made it seem longer?
Definitely a quick two-and-a-half years. I was spreading myself thin trying to oversee the booking of two clubs seven days a week, 60 shows a month, keeping one place relevant, and trying to get the other off the ground... so yeah, that ate up the time pretty good.
In announcing the close, you made note of how difficult it’s been competing with a lot of the DIY/loft spaces around Williamsburg, with their lax curfews and smoking policies and whatnot. What would you say are some of the benefits of running a legit club, versus the DIY approach?
That comment about DIY was kind of blown out of proportion a bit, and it's just a small part of the problems with Bruar overall. Because there were so many problems, it's still difficult to put into words what happened. I do attribute much of the failure to the early midnight curfew. Before Bruar, I rarely left the apartment before 10:30pm, and that's considered early-arrival at some places. Of course, I’m not in my early 20s either. But it did allow a matinee vibe, where you could see a free show with some friends bands and maybe purchase a beer or two, but then having 12-4am to do whatever you wanted elsewhere after...
One would say we should have had better after-party stuff, but that also fell by the wayside, partially due to me spreading myself too thin, and also not having roles defined well enough within the infrastructure as to who was responsible for what.
I respect and love places like Death By Audio and Shea Stadium and can totally see the hard work in the nights they put together. I’ve never checked into the way those guys run stuff, so I have nothing to compare it to, honestly. There's no guidebook, and there shouldn't be one. What we did was DIY. We rarely advertised, had no corporate tie-ins, etc.
Would you ever consider opening a venue more in line with a DIY/loft space in the future?
I’ve done a bunch of other shows at other DIY venues over the years, and I love the experience, but maybe wouldn’t want to it on a night-to-night basis as of yet.
In retrospect, what’s one thing you wish you’d known two and an half years ago about running a club in Brooklyn versus running one in the LES?
The Bruar problem had a million tiers, with many internal issues against it that didn’t materialize until a few months after we were open. From the start, after running Cake Shop’s basement venue for six years, where we fortunately have the upstairs to cushion and prevent any noise, we definitely didn’t consider the problems of a ground-floor venue. We believed it to be soundproof, and we wound up spending a load of money to remedy the problem because we wanted to address the numerous neighbor complaints. I can’t say anything about the Williamsburg dollar versus the NYC dollar, since we opened in a bad economy.
You also mention “saving the name for another location and starting anew.” Is there a plan in the works to open a new Bruar Falls down the road?
On my end of things there are no immediate plans to continue the name, which came from the spot where my sister-in-law Judy’s grandparents used to hide away for the afternoon and make out, in an impossibly pretty area of Northern Scotland. But it sure was hard to say and spell, that first year anyway. Maybe it’ll pop up again someday. I think most people knew the Cake Shop affiliation, so that’s more important to us now.
The final week of shows wound up being a family affair of sorts, with lineups focused around local bands who played Bruar a bunch in the past. How did you decide who should play?
Basically, I just wanted the bands I knew the best and with whom I’d shared deeply fun experiences; bands that defined the vibe of the place to me. I love Shark?, love Tanks Amigo, Beachniks, Air Waves, Ex Humans & the Stalkers. I’ve known some of the people in those bands for over 15 years. Dive, Dino’s Boys and Night Manager are some of my favorite local bands right now. So it came together perfectly. You want your friends at your own funeral right? I’ve never closed a place before. It’s weird. I was really psyched that Big Troubles popped up for the last Thursday when they suddenly had an opening. They’ve been playing our places forever, and I’ve always loved them, especially the new record
And last but not least, any guess how many times The Beets played Bruar over the years? I want to say at least 12 or 13?
I counted ten, which seems way too low! Aren’t they the greatest?! I wish it was 500.
"I always had the idea that this was a really great thing to do: it's fun, it's important and we'll do it as long as we can."
Mar 29, 2012