Death By Audio is closed – a tribute plus video footage of its final shows

Lightning Bolt DBA

Death By Audio hosted its last ever show on the 22nd of November with the final set being played by Lightning Bolt, we have some great video from the final two nights below.

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, but for some, Vice media paved paradise to put up an office block. The narrative of change in the area is a well trodden one, as is the temptation for hyperbole when it comes to ones own personal preferences. The story of Death By Audio is shared with the likes of The Fillmore East, Maxwells, 285 Kent, CBGBs, it doesn’t matter; the constant is how a place can have such a positive impact on so many people, and it will be told again, it is not a means to compare one to another.

The first time I went to DBA the power went out multiple times, it was about 200 degrees, the bathrooms would cause a lutropublicaphobe to implode and I wondered what I had done to deserve such punishment, but there was something about it that made me want to go back. The ramshackle appearance and occasional blip masked what was actually an incredibly well-ran machine that almost all of the time ran like clockwork, and even the bathrooms became endearing!

Many things are replaceable, and New York has no shortage of music venues, but sometimes all your particular desires are lined up in one spot, and the biggest reason for that at DBA was Edan Wilber, a seemingly tireless workhorse who booked who he wanted to see without much care to whether anyone would turn up, his kind of enthusiasm for music can’t be hidden or faked. For 7 years, acts of all sizes and sounds have sent electric current through the venue’s PA, and it is a soundsystem that never really got the credit it deserved. Edan knew the room like the back of his hand and it always sounded good, if not great. A brief survey, and it would be brief, of those who ever attended a show where he wasn’t at the board would testify to that, anyone else never seemed to know what to do with the sound. The soundboard was where I would usually stand within 2-feet, which is apparently the same area that everyone stood at, must be a tardis. The people who worked the door and the bar were also incredibly gracious and the atmosphere always felt completely free of judgement.

While the likes of Ty Segall, Future Islands, Thee Oh Sees and Jeff the Brotherhood are rightfully cited as the most acclaimed bands associated with the venue (all of whom played over the last few days), it was the joy at being introduced to acts like Pop Zeus, Bennio Qwerty, Brick Mower and Dick Diver that were reason alone to turn up. It was a place to feel comfortable in ones own skin for a few hours of an evening at least, to forget insecurities and stress, because everyone who went to DBA did so for one reason: the music. That of course sounds like a cliche, but I never had to hope that someone in the audience would shut up during a band’s set, or that someone was there just to be seen, or unbearable displays of one-upmanship from hipper-than-thou poseurs. Finally, being a socially awkward nerd felt ok!

Little of the above is unique, and that is almost the point, everyone has their own favourite place for their own reasons. Death By Audio really mattered to me, maybe it mattered to you as well, if it didn’t, somewhere else does. To put things in perspective somewhat, I’ve lost my favourite music venue, but others have lost homes, jobs, livelihoods and outlets for their creative talent. I wish I were better at saying these things in person, but I sincerely wish all the best to everyone involved for the future. Of course, I selfishly hope that future includes another space, even better than Death By Audio. I feel sad that it has gone, but even more grateful it was ever there.

As promised, here is some fantastic live footage from the final two nights courtesy of (((unartig))). There will also be some more features on the final weeks of DBA to come.

The penultimate night, Friday the 21st, was kicked off by local favourites, Sleepies.

This was Nots first ever show in New York, not a bad night for that to happen!

Protomartyr have been one of the most proiment bands from out-of-town this year and are big DBA-favourites. Frontman Joe Casey made a typically dry quip that “this place is great, I predict a long future”.

The only time I had previously seen Metz was an in-store performance at Generation Records, and they played exactly like this that night as well. It was one of the best sets I have ever seen at the venue.

On Saturday I turned up at 4:30pm to get in line, I’d never had to line up for a show at DBA before Ty Segall the week before and throughout the week you had to turn up earlier and earlier to get in, so I didn’t want to risk it. I managed to get in ok, but I assume if anyone turned up later than about 5pm they probably didn’t get in. I don’t know if it would have been better to ticket these shows or not, I suspect there wasn’t a best way.

Another DBA-related band, Grooms, kicked things off. They opened their set with Lion Name, which is featured on the Live at DBA 2012 Flexi Book.

Jeff the Brotherhood, who also played at DBA last month as a 4-piece reverted to their original 2-piece setup, their set was a complete blur!

It was perfectly fitting for A Place to Bury Strangers to play the last ever show, it was also Oliver Ackermann’s birthday.

Of all the shows I have ever been to, Lightning Bolt‘s set may just be the one with the most absurd crowd.

Towards the end of the set, copies of Vice magazine made their way into the crowd, by the end there was a sea of torn paper. Thankfully everyone seemed to be pretty well behaved after the show, it would have been sad to see if people had started trashing the place or trying to take mementos for themselves (I hope the guy who wrote that Rice setlist was given that ceiling panel), we hung around for a little while after Lightning Bolt but I felt like I wanted to leave while it was still fairly busy. It’s the end of an era in many ways.



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