So, What's Wrong With the Brooklyn Music Scene? 


The issue you're holding in your hands, or reading online (what up internet!), is obviously a celebration of the always vibrant music scene we're lucky to have here in our city and, specifically, in Brooklyn. There is so much that is beautiful and inspiring about what happens here every day, and we're forever grateful for it. But we're starting to think it's not all flowers and sunshine around here, that in a lot of very dangerous ways, we are being led, and are leading ourselves, astray. So with that, we turned to some local notables for their input. And lest you think we're just making everyone else do our dirty work, fine, we'll go first: So many of the young bands here seem to feel it's their god-given right to never have anyone criticize their music, that they should be praised unconditionally for summoning the guts to have left whatever shitty town they came from in the first place to make music here at all. See? So much fun! And maybe even productive!

Jason Diamond, Editor, Vol. 1 Brooklyn
It's something of a crime that Oneida is still around and they aren't looked at as the best and most important band to come out of this whole Brooklyn renaissance of the last decade. I have no affiliation with the band, but I've watched for years as their contemporaries become famous, or far lesser bands jock their sound. That's a shame.

Brandon Stosuy, Stereogum/The Believer
There's something inauthentic, opportunistic, and cheesy about what's going on in certain realms of Brooklyn right now, folks requesting "VIP" at every corner, toasting the newest flavors of the month with free, sponsored alcohol. A friend of mine who'd moved to Japan for a decade returned to the area recently, went to a couple shows, asked me why there were so many "corny" people in attendance. He was honestly shocked, which I found funny. I blamed the Internet, though who knows. I love a lot about my neighborhood, but too often it's like 30-something's become the new Freshman Year in college.

Pow Wow!
I can immediately sound off on certain local venues that have recently expanded and now impose a minimum number of people (let's say 30!) that bands "have to!" draw, complete with a contract/disclaimer. A once cool art/music space has become the new Arlene's, and we feel the DIY community aspect of booking shows has become heavily focused on money. I blame the two Duane Reades and a CVS opening up in a one 
mile circumference.

Kevin Diamond, Shark?
Brooklyn is a big pond, so being a medium-sized fish can be tough here. There's always something cooler going on than whatever you are doing. So while it's amazing to live in a busy, bustling pond of coolness, it can get overwhelming, and it can drown out smaller shows and events—it doesn't matter how good the line up of your show is if Lightning Bolt is playing a garage down the street. That being said, if Lightening Bolt IS actually playing in a garage down the street, then you should go to that.

Jack "Skippy" McFadden, Tiger 
Mountain Presents
I think what's the most frustrating with regards to career longevity is the fact that a band can have literally NOTHING recorded and just because they play a party in Williamsburg that is well attended, some agent picks them up. It's a false weather balloon. Follow a new band like this when they go to Chicago or Philadelphia or even South Brooklyn and you'll see that they don't fare as well. And by the first EP, they are ‘over'.

I'm not a big proponent of bands having to pay their dues before they get popular, but I think this short trajectory nonsense is a career killer and also a music killer. People can blame mp3s if they want for the state of the industry, but the fact that fans are constantly having to find a new band to like because their favorite mp3 of the day came from a band that existed for six months on the internet and in some loft space in Bushwick is utterly ridiculous. Eventually you grow up and you don't have time to be a maven like when you were 22. And chances are, your favorite band when you were 22 doesn't exist when you're thirty-something. It's why I have a warm spot in my heart for bands like The National, Beirut, TV On The Radio, New Pornographers, etc. You can count on them making great music every few years....

Derek Evers, Impose Magazine
My take is that, for better or worse, the scene is changing, and now instead of kids who just want to be a part of an awesome scene throwing awesome shows, most bands feels entitled, especially if they have a "booking agent" or "manager." With that comes a different set of ideals, goals, and ultimately, a weakening of the independent community in Brooklyn. It's no coincidence that this comes at a time when the industry is no longer "broken" as it was during the last five amazing years in this borough. But the DIY punk of the 1980s eventually morphed into hair metal by the end of the decade, so why would we assume our scene would be any different?

Jessica Suarez, Stereogum
People are trying to force a scene or big movement when there isn't one, or seeing patterns where there are no patterns. Sometimes things are fractured, and that's good! Or else we end up with more ridiculous genre names and micro trends.

Pete D'Angelo, Ernest Jenning 
Record Co.
We're lucky. Complaining about anything seems stupid, but I guess one of the most annoying things is how hard it is to see through the bullshit and figure out what bands are hype and what bands are actually incredible. Every time you think you have it figured out, you're proven wrong—that band with the stupid name and bad attitude is actually incredible. That band you thought was going to crush your soul with brilliance is just some emperor's new clothes garbage that everyone's afraid to say is awful. Oh, and the outfits. Have you seen some of the outfits?

Jose Luis Garcia, The Beets
What's with all these $10 shows? I know we're in some sort of recession, but I remember when everything was six bucks. Am I just being cheap? It seems like a deterrent for people to see new bands, me included. I know bands need to get paid, I'm in a band, of course, and we have expenses. But honestly the expenses haven't changed in the past three years. Soo... fix that? As for music trends, I don't really follow. But better band names please.

Carlye Wisel and Donald Rasmussen of Big Ugly Yellow Couch
We recognize that we're unbelievably lucky to even have this much music available to us at our disposal and don't want to sound like complainy complainersons, but the role that hype has played, particularly in the blogosphere, can be rather daunting. Chris Weingarten was the first to really speak out about "firsties," and we can't help but notice that the nature of exclusives paired with an "I had it before you" mentality sometimes gets in the way of what should be the bottom line of music blogs—spreading the word about artists you love, not taking claim to posting an mp3 stream three weeks before Pitchfork. It's something we've been working hard to combat with our site, as we only shoot couch sessions with bands we absolutely, truly adore, but to be able to stick to that sentiment and not be influenced by the hype has been difficult, and at some times, a real challenge.

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