"Venturing to Glasslands in the very late evening is a bit like sneaking off to your cool friend’s basement in high school. The space is already dirty, strewn with beer cans and cups from the previous show, and decorated in such an artfully discombobulated way that the effect is ultimately charming, even comfortable." (from a 2012 review)
Glasslands, which closes tonight after eight years in business, was never a great place to see music. The sighlines were bad, the flow sucked. There was one couch and one bathroom for 200 people. Not to mention it was convenient to absolutely nothing.
But, you didn't go to Glasslands - or its late neighbors 285 Kent and Death by Audio - because they were quality venues. You went there because it represented something different: an antidote to the city's slick, polished venues which offer about as much excitement as a trip to the mall. For all its flaws, I've seen some great shows at Glasslands over the years - such as Bon Iver and Black Mountain back in 2008 - mostly due to the space's quirky intimacy.
I ventured back to the corner of Kent and S. 2nd one last time last night for the venue's penultimate show, headlined by Staten Island rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars, who had the crowd up and jumping to their high-octane set. Openers Mon Khmer played a National-like set with Delicate Steve sitting in on guitar, while Keepaway mixed synths and vocal samples ("What's cooler than ice? Glass. Glasslands!") with ambient guitars. The place was expectedly packed, yet everyone seemed easygoing, happy to pay their respects one last time.
A quick word for those who've been hurling expletives at Vice, who are in the process of taking over the space once shared by these three venues. Vice is not evil, even if one of it's minority backers is. Vice is a business, and has become successful not by selling out, but by catering to the exact audience that populates these venues on any given night. Media is a good investment because it makes money through advertising and subscriptions. Music isn't, because you and all of your friends stopped paying for it a long time ago. And, no, your occasional $12 at the door doesn't cut it. Think about that the next time you're sitting on your couch, surfing your laptop or TV - or both.
More pics on the photo page.