Vice Media the Driving Force Behind Underground Venue Closures
Vice Media is behind the closure of Williamsburg venues Death by Audio and likely Glasslands, Billboard has learned.
Valued at $2.5 billion, the media behemoth revealed plans to move into a 60,000 square foot warehouse space on the corner of S 2nd Street and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, a neighborhood of Brooklyn, for an alleged $6.5 million tax break from the New York City government to stay in the borough. Vice's happens to be the same corner that housed Death By Audio, Glasslands, and other establishments including 750-seat moviehouse Indiescreen, which was put up for auction in July.
There has been speculation that Vice's new real estate development pushed out Death By Audio and Glasslands. Billboard has confirmed that Death by Audio's demise is directly related to Vice Media. Representatives from the two venues declined to comment in September and did not respond to requests for comment at press time, respectively.
Even before Vice's offer to lease the building, the landlords became reluctant to renew or extend the building's existing leases, having rented the space directly above Death By Audio to a web startup for higher rates, says Billboard's source with intimate knowledge of the matter. It was this same reluctance that allegedly led them to decline a lease renewal for 285 Kent, a venue that shuttered in January, even though booker Ric Leichtung told this reporter at that time that 285 Kent's closure was not related to lease matters.
"We're choosing to close right now because we want to end the space on our own terms," Leichtung said, citing the possibility of a vacate order following a series of shutdowns and visits from officials in the months leading up to our conversation. "It's not because the lease is gonna be up this month, or next month, or even the month after that -- it's ultimately about ending it with dignity."
Billboard's source adds that Death By Audio and Glasslands had been under increasing pressure to vacate their spaces either by Vice denying a renewal of their leases or by enforcement of crippling lease provisions, such as noise transference, that had been left up the landlords' discretion (and generally ignored). The remaining tenants on the block, our source says, had been left in exchange for cash buyouts.
When asked for comment, a spokesperson from Vice said, "Brooklyn is our home and we're already hard at work developing a freaky, space-age utopia that will give today's creative visionaries a place to produce astonishing stories and leave their indelible thumbprint on the annals of history."
It's also worth noting that Vice's Noisey gave away a spring season pass to Glasslands back in February.
Correction: Vice Media has leased, not purchased, the building.