I was gearing up to go to the Lit City Rave with the global bass thumping Nguzunguzu, when I caught wind that 285 Kent had cancelled the show due to a shooting. Do things get that real in Williamsburg?, I thought. Maybe not the WillyB we know today, but 285 Kent is on the old-school DIY-space vibes. Luckily no one was injured, but soon after I came to learn that 285 Kent had a bit of reputation. It’s the kind of space that is reminiscent of CBGB in its hey-day. Tagged up walls, no real liquor license or allowance to throw all-night rages (they did anyway). During its short life, 285 Kent got a lot of heat from police, health inspectors and city officials. And now, after murmurs, tweets and rumors, 285 Kent has decided to officially close their doors this February. Not gonna lie, this is the biggest blow to the ‘hood since we lost La Villita Bakery.
Founded by promoter Todd P and co-run by talent booker Ric Leichtung, 285 Kent’s legacy will remain as one of the rights-of-passage for artists and performers who take their music into their own hands. John Barclay (now running Bossa Nova Civic Club) ran 285 Kent in its past life when it was known as ‘Bohemian Grove’. In 2010, Todd P took over and so came a slew of artists like Odd Future, Mykki Blanco, Grimes along with plenty of artists across the Latin independent/alternative spectrum (in the last year alone: El G of ZZK, Juan Wauters, Venus X, Nadastrom, Empress Of, and Selebrities, among others). Not only does Todd P have strong connections to the Mexican and Latin independent music scene (he was approached by NRML Fest to curate the American line-up) but his passion and flair for unconventional approaches to music and the way it is shared among the community was always reflected in shows that bloomed at 285 Kent – no LAMC was complete without a scrappy DIY showcase there.
285 Kent may be hosting its final farewell shows, and the DIY artist scene in Williamsburg may be dead, but Todd P is already making moves a little further east. Trans Pecos, a new all-ages music venue is opening on the Bushwick/Ridgewood border (date to TBD). Serving as a haven for new music, the creative space will have studios, a cafe and neighborhood bar during the day and on nights with no shows, plus two galleries and basement space. Watch this space for more info. We’ll be out there partying with the OG’s.