Brooklyn's newest rock club, The Bell House, officially opens tonight but there was an opening party last night for those in the know or, in my case, friends of those in-the-know who are kind enough to bring you along. The night featured performances by The Mugs, Tim Fite and Carl Newman, plus host Eugene Mirman. Newman, who is a regular at Union Hall, subbed last minute for Nada Surf when singer Matthew Caws' flight home got delayed. Nada's Ira helped out on percussion. Here they are doing "Miracle Drug":
Located on 7th Street in Gowanus, the 500 capacity venue from the folks who brought us Union Hall reminds me of a lodge — all wood and warm lighting. The main space is wider than it is deep, sort of the way Tramps was if you remember that place, but with the bar on the far end that features 17 kinds of beer… in cans. Not sure what's up with that but it's kind of cute. The stage juts out from the wall in the middle of the room, allowing viewing from three sides which I like a lot. Sound was good on opening night, never so loud you needed earplugs, but that may change. On either side of the soundbooth on the back wall are raised areas with tables for VIPs, shortys or both.
Adjacent to the main space is a separate bar that is open to the public (no ticket required) from 4pm and features plenty of couches about 20 beers on tap. There's not much else in the immediate area so it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood I think, especially to bands using the rehearsal spaces that are nearby. I will hold full judgement on The Bell House until I see a show with a packed house but I can already see this becoming one of my favorite venues in the city. Bowery Presents, you've finally got some competition.
Tonight's the official opening night, with a free show featuring Matt Pond, PA, the Lilys, Takka Takka, Robbers on High Street and "special guests." Club booker Skippy doesn't fool around when he promises "special guests" so be prepared. The upcoming schedule is available on The Bell House's website.
Here's some video of Eugene and Carl stalling for time by performing a Guns N' Roses classic "in the style of Belle & Sebastian":
Here are some more picures from the party: