Converted from an old printing press warehouse, The Bell House opened in 2008. I feel a need to rejoice every time I go to a show outside of the LES, Williamsburg or Bushwick, such is the monopoly of those neighbourhoods for live music.
The Bell House is located at 149 7th St in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The nearest subway stops are 9th Street on the R line whilst 4th Av on the F/G is also just around the corner. Granted, those aren’t always the most reliable subway lines in the world but it really isn’t that far or awkward to get to at all. If you’re a bus person you can also take the B37 which stops on 6th Street and 3rd Avenue, B77 and B75 stop on the corner of 9th Street and 3rd Avenue and the B71 stops on the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue.
The main bar, or rather, The Frontier Room as it is known, also hosts shows and has a capacity of 150. The bar boasts a fine draft selection (12 rotating options) and 8 types of canned beer, finally a venue which gives a damn about the quality of the booze. This really should be celebrated as most venues offer little better than piss-poor beer. The Bell House doesn’t discriminate completely though, those with no taste buds can still ‘enjoy’ a can of disgusting budweiser. Sometimes you can buy food here as well but it doesn’t seem consistently available so I wouldn’t bank on it.
The Frontier Room offers good sound with just a couple of speakers hanging above the stage, which is at the far side of the room, I was most recently here to see Artist to Watch, Imaginary Boys, who played a fantastic set.
Capacity for the main event hall is 500 (or 350 in a seated setup), and it features beautiful wooden beams running along the ceiling where a couple of chandeliers hang resplendently, which makes a change from the obligatory disco ball. The bar in the main event hall features a slightly smaller selection of beer, but it still beats almost every other concert venue bar in its own right! It even feels a bit like a beer hall.
The rooms runs wide and there are no obstructions to sitelines, so you get a good view wherever you stand and never feel too far from the stage. The sound is also damn fine.
Bathrooms are concrete and cold, but feel appropriately foreboding.
Booking is handled by Todd Abramson, who used to co-own Maxwells, which is why you’ll see great bands like Yo La Tengo and Mission of Burma here rather than the trendier Bowery venues.
The Bell House makes a persuasive case for being the best venue in the city, some people think it’s a bit of a trek to get to but it really isn’t. Once you get there you’re rewarded with a warm atmosphere, good aesthetics, fine sound and for once, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself, an excellent beer selection.
Check here for the latest Bell House show listings.