When Jim Glancy and John Moore, partner and co-founder of Bowery Presents (the concert promotion and venue management company behind Terminal 5, Mercury Lounge and more that was acquired by AEG Presents in January), walked into an old steel manufacturing plant nearly four years ago, they had finally found what they were looking for — a space for their latest Brooklyn venue. “I immediately thought, this is it,” Glancy tells Billboard.
Inspired by the industrial look of the space — all the original steel has since been repurposed for the bars, bathroom windows and elsewhere — the venue practically named itself: Brooklyn Steel. The raw and rustic interior juxtaposes the venue’s lush, plant-covered roof, which will help absorb sound — a top priority considering the large Cooper Park Houses complex situated just across the street.
It has been a decade since Bowery Presents opened a venue in Brooklyn — Music Hall of Williamsburg, which will soon welcome the likes of Maggie Rogers, Lewis Del Mar and Bishop Briggs opened in September of 2007 — and Moore says they have long wanted to open another place. After finding their ideal spot in terms of look — and one with a capacity of 1,800, a sort of midpoint between Bowery’s biggest venue (Terminal 5, 3000 capacity) and their smallest (Mercury Lounge, 250) — they got their construction permit in July of 2016. Now, only nine months later (an aggressive timeline, according to Glancy), the venue is one day away from opening with a five-night run of shows from LCD Soundsystem, all of which sold out in minutes at the face-value of $59.50.
“There are any number of acts that could have been the first, but we wanted someone with heft; a New York band that The Bowery had a history with,” Glancy says. Other upcoming (and sold out) acts include The Decemberists, PJ Harvey, Two Door Cinema Club and more.
Glancy and Moore walk upstairs, past a man who is brushing the banister with its final coat of yellow paint, and stop when they reach the balcony, which is shaped more like an open triangle than an open square, allowing for optimal vantage points. On the way down, Glancy picks up an empty Red Bull can and points out the venue’s third bar in the back of the main floor, which has easy access to the back lot, for moving kegs in and out — something they say is often a struggle in New York venues, as the bars aren’t always near doors.
Options are a big part of what sets Brooklyn Steel apart from other venues, the most notable being its moveable stage — the only New York music venue to boast one. The stage can shift to three different positions to fit appropriate capacities depending on the performer: 1,200, 1,500 and 1,800.
While standing near the foot of the stage — already set up with LCD’s ever-present disco ball — Glancy looks out at the open, high-ceilinged space and lets out a small sigh. “It’s simple,” he says, “but there’s a grandeur to it.”
A handful of people have seen the venue ahead of its official opening, and reception thus far has been positive. “When we see paying customers come in with a similar reaction, that’s when I’ll have true personal satisfaction,” Glancy remarks.
Moore adds that as both a fan of LCD Soundsystem and a key player throughout the process of creating this new venue, he can’t wait for James Murphy to finally walk on stage for the first time on Thursday night (Apr. 6). “That, to me, will be the most exciting moment.”