Maria Minerva - 285 Kent's Final Show - 12/19
Better than: The real estate market
"We are witnessing the end of Williamsburg right here, right now." Estonian experimental singer and producer Maria Minerva didn't mince words as she gave a eulogy to 285 Kent at the venue's closing party last night, comparing the people who move to Williamsburg to kids that get away with everything, and the real estate developers building the apartment complexes they move into to their parents. "I personally don't have any other reason to come here except this venue." She wasn't alone: while other New Yorkers were seeing the Breeders at Bowery Ballroom, Beyoncé at Barclays, or Philip Glass' benefit concert for victims of Typhoon Yolanda at LPR, a relative handful of fans and friends gathered in the warehouse space at 285 Kent Avenue to say goodbye to one of Brooklyn–and New York's–most iconic, and most beloved, DIY venues.
Since it opened in 2010, 285 has hosted a wide variety of acts that might have seemed incongruous on paper but in fact brought unprecedented diversity and accessibility to the venue and the scene it began to inform as much as represent. "We basically do whatever we think is culturally relevant right now," said curator and Ad Hoc co-founder Ric Leichtung in an interview this November. "We do a lot of buzz-y, hype-y shows, but we also do a lot of hardcore shows and progressive dance and experimental music nights." To name just a few: 285 hosted Titus Andronicus for New Year's Eve 2011 when the Ridgewood Masonic Temple had liquor-license troubles, Frank Ocean and Odd Future joined infernal noiseniks Trash Talk in July of 2012 (a night I will forever kick myself for missing), rapper Mykki Blanco performed with Autre Ne Veut later that same year (my first show at 285), and just a few weeks ago, London electronic duo Factory Floor played two very sold-out shows that effectively ended 285's tenure with a bang, not with a whimper.
That was not so much the case at last night's less-than-packed house. After a period of speculation that 285 Kent would be closing–police raided a show back in September and rumors about a shut-down started circulating in the following months–Leichtung confirmed via Twitter yesterday evening that no other shows were scheduled after last night, not even for New Year's Eve; though, he added, there may be some in the future. The mood was decidedly downcast, especially after doors opened two hours later than scheduled. It was colder and darker inside than usual, the bar was donation-only, and a health inspector lingered near the merch table for the first portion of the night (God knows what she thought of the bathrooms, which barely locked, were frequently out of toilet paper, and bore such memorable graffiti as "If assholes could fly, this place would be an airport!"). It didn't take long, however, before people were lighting up cigarettes indoors as they always had, regardless of whether or not she was still there. By midnight, most of the people didn't seem to know anymore, or care.
Sitting cross-legged on stage in front of his modular synthesizer, wearing a fur hat and wool coat, DJ Jan Woo opened the night with industrial, acid-laced techno. After a while, his pummeling noise levels, so abrasive at first it was difficult to be in the same room with them (the story of 285 Kent), transmogrified into an entrancing, even danceable throb that sounded just like the kind of music the venue would request at its own funeral.