SubCulture, the new subterranean performance space on the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette, officially opened its doors Monday night with an invite-only concert that showcased its eclectic booking policy, ranging from jazz to classical and rock. While the comparisons to another liquor-shilling, cross-genre club on Bleecker Street are inevitable, SubCulture—which we profiled last week—seeks to separate itself from places like LPR by replacing the cocktail tables with rows of theatrical seating, placing the focus squarely on the musicians.
And, while owner brothers Steve and Marc Kaplan have invested heavily in state-of-the-art sound and light systems, the room—which seats less than 200—is intimate enough to allow for unamplified performances, such as Monday's sets by the Rennaissance quintet New York Polyphony and the Ensemble ACJW String Quartet. Other highlights from Monday included jazz pianist Fred Hersch playing both solo and with his Pocket Orchestra (Jo Lawry, vocals; Richie Barshay, percussion) and bassist/voclist Richard Bona, whose music blended Afropop with Latin music and jazz. (Bona's version of Jaco Pastorius' "A Portrait of Tracy" was simply electric.)
While I can't say there's anything on SubCulture's calendar I'm hankering to see right now, the club already seems to have their stuff together better than most venues at this stage. And, from the musicians and promoters I've talked to, they are grateful to having another place to ply their musical wares; a little competition never hurt anyone.
Welcome to the scene, SubCulture. Look forward to hearing more from you soon. More pics on the photo page.