Text: Andy Fenwick
In cities of swift change, beloved music venues close. New clubs open. At least in Brooklyn, one can always find a nameless, semi-legal venue, like the Bed-Stuy loft where I climbed an exposed water pipe, in 2003, to get a better view of Lightning Bolt. But recent years have seen a revolving door of legal Brooklyn venues, with joints like Southpaw, 285 Kent, Glasslands, Northsix, and, most notably, Death by Audio, all shutting their doors for good.
Death By Audio (DBA) began as a first-floor Brooklyn warehouse, at 49 South 2nd Street, where, in 2005, along with members of Dirty on Purpose, Oliver Ackermann moved his already flourishing Death By Audio guitar pedal business. Formerly of the criminally-unheard, Virginia-based Skywave, Ackermann was also forming his ear-splitting outfit A Place to Bury Strangers. To fund the construction of studio space, and possibly to make DBA a place to play out when they felt like it, both bands began hosting shows. By 2007, DBA was a destination for live music, and fast becoming an all-purpose band incubator, a studio, a squat, a renowned pedal factory, and a ropes course (you had to be there).
Along with Edan Wilber, Matt Conboy planned & booked shows. “Ty Segall played his first NYC show there,” Conboy tells Ravelin. “Jeff the Brotherhood maybe played their second NYC show, same for Future Islands. I believe Thee Oh Sees played their first show as a band in NYC at DBA; not 100% sure.”
Soon enough, DBA’s immediate neighborhood changed from creating to consuming. Street muggings declined, and lease muggings began. In November 2014, with an eviction date looming, DBA decided to say goodbye with a month-long celebration of concerts, booking artists both low-profile and gone-massive. Conboy documents it all on film in his “Goodnight Brooklyn” documentary, hopefully out in late 2016, and already well-received both at SXSW the 2016 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, where it won an award for Best International Documentary.
In addition to filming the final month, DBA pressed record for all shows. For fans of the music, as well as collectors of rare-as-shit, cool objects, Famous Class records is releasing 26 of these final live tracks, in chronological order, as Start Your Own Fucking Show Space, a vinyl-only, three-record compilation. Double gatefold jacket, printed sleeves, a listing of all shows in DBA’s history; i.e., the works. If you need it on clear, blue, and red vinyl, order fast, or it’s gone. If you’re a Ty Segall fan, order fast and go for the deluxe bundle, which includes a bonus, very limited (as in digital: never), red-vinyl recording of Segall’s first, full NYC show, at DBA in 2008, including an unreleased track, “Don’t You Want To Go”.
Critical distance proves difficult when it comes to assessing the overall talent assembled, partially because a certain Ravelin writer (ahem) was present for the track “Monkey Trip” by Pampers. Some acts cut their teeth at the shadiest of long-gone, pre-DBA Brooklyn joints (Deerhoof, Ted Leo, Lightning Bolt, Shellshag) and others used the home field advantage offered by DBA to get things right (Parquet Courts, Protomartyr, Sleepies, Screaming Females, Grooms). Still others, despite outgrowing clubs of the same size as their careers skyrocketed outside of Brooklyn, return the favor of DBA’s early NYC support (Jeff the Brotherhood, Future Islands, Thee Oh Sees, Dan Deacon, Segall). And then there are those that need more attention, and right now (Downtown Boys). Styles range from scuzz to shoegaze to new romantic to electro pop. All are still together or performing in some fashion, which only highlights how the title Start Your Own Fucking Show Space works not just as snappy response to complainers in the club, but how it serves as a serious directive. Start Your Own Fucking Show Space is a call to action.
We caught up with Cyrus Lubin of Famous Class records, asked about Start Your Own Fucking Show Space, and let him tell it as it was:
This 3XLp is a nice tribute, and a pretty cool object to own. How much work was it? How long did it take? What’s your favorite feature (the hardcover book, the art, the color vinyl)?
This thing was a fuck-load of work! by the time it comes out I think we will have spent 18 months making it. My favorite part is probably the inner sleeves which lists every single of the 1,800 shows at Death By Audio. It’s an unreal thing to see in person. Edan [Wilber] and I spent countless hours combing through it, making sure it was all in the right order and fixing so, so many spelling mistakes and misplaced commas.
Was each track recorded the same way in that final month?
Yep, the DBA dudes and I had already done the Flexibook together so when the news came in on the pending eviction we knew we’d want to make something like this. Matt [Conboy] and Edan stepped up the recording set up for these shows and jay did a great job with mixing it all. The records sound awesome.
Who selected the tracks?
We all did really. I think at first I went through around 50 of the full sets and sent Matt and Edan my 20 to 30 picks but that was really just a jumping off point and we went through a lot of edits before landing on this final track list. It was important that this accurately represented the space, and that meant including both the bands that blew up like Ty [Segall] and Future Islands, but also the bands that played there 20 times over two years but aren’t well known outside of Brooklyn.