Saturday, January 1, 2011


I recently wrote about The Drive-By Truckers' roof raising 12/30/10 gig at The Brooklyn Bowl. But now I want to write about the venue itself.  I've never done a venue review in my years of writing No Expiration, but as marketing guru Seth Godin says, "surprise and delight" is a great way to get people to spread the word of whatever it is that you're selling.

I wasn't psyched to have to trek to Brooklyn to see the DBTs. But I'm a huge fan, I've never seen them before, and the Brooklyn Bowl show was their only appearance that I was able to attend (I've missed them several times since becoming a fan) so I figured I'd suck it up and go. I'm from New Jersey, and to me, Brooklyn can be a bit hard to navigate. That said, I've had some great times recently in Brooklyn: over the summer I went to see Faith No More and Primus at the waterfront in Brooklyn, and also Dead Weather at  The Prospect Park Bandshell. But in the aftermath of the blizzard, I knew Brooklyn would be more difficult to get around than usual.  I probably would have been able to park for free in the street (I actually parked in Manhattan near my office, and took the M to the G train there, the L to the E train back). I didn't notice any parking garages or lots nearby.

Once I got into the venue, I was, in fact, surprised and delighted.  It just looks cool, sort of like if The Reverend Horton Heat designed a bowling alley.  The people who work there are friendly. The menu goes way beyond the usual bar stuff: I had a french bread pizza for dinner followed by a vanilla shake which was really good.

I had an extra ticket and sold it outside the venue for cover price: $20. The woman I sold it to didn't know who was playing, and didn't really seem concerned: she was just trying to get in to go bowling. It turns out that it costs the same to bowl as to see the show: obviously that sort of limits what artists will play there, but I don't think they're looking for the biggest chart toppers. It's a really fun vibe: you can watch the band while you're bowling (they have 16 lanes, they rent shoes and sell socks), or you can just hang out on the dance floor. The entire place is adorned with video screens that are constantly showing interesting stuff (the ones on the dance floor are turned off when the band plays, but I was wondering if the ones over the lanes are distracting to bowlers).  I spent my time waiting for the band watching BBC's Planet Earth series.

Throughout the night, I was amazed by the place's attention to detail (something that not many rock clubs seem to worry much about, they really don't have to).  They way everything looked, the videos playing on the screens, the food.  Even the men's room was nice (so I'll assume the ladies room is also nice).  I will always go to concerts at Roseland, Irving Plaza and the Starland Ballroom, because they book bands that I like.  But I don't look forward to going specifically to those venues.  On the other hand, I'm looking for reasons to go back to Brooklyn Bowl.  So I may end up at one of Questlove's Thursday night DJ gigs ("The Bowl Train") or upcoming gigs by The Funky Meters: either seem to be great music to bowl by, and will be well worth the trip to Brooklyn.

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