BRIC House opened in October 2013, after completing a $35m+ project to renovate the old Strand Theatre at 647 Fulton Street. I’ve been looking forward to visiting since we interviewed Jack Walsh of Celebrate Brooklyn back in November about the new space.
Access could scarcely be easier as it is merely a few minutes walk from 12 different subways lines (the nearest is Nevins St on the 2,3,4,5) and it’s certainly hard to miss the building itself, with snow white exterior shining like a beacon compared to the fading BAM Harvey Theater next door.
The interior is also striking with the same white found throughout, the first thing you notice is the art gallery found at the bottom of the stoop (the gallery floor is also home to other events known as “The Stoop Series”).
The cafe, courtesy of Hungry Ghost, sells pastries, sandwiches, coffee and alcohol. They’d stopped serving/ran out of sandwiches around 7pm, which is normal for them at sold out shows. Upon being faced with this news, one reporter (I won’t spend the time to out them) acted like a spoiled brat and threw his dummy out the pram, threatening them with a bad review. The staff were polite and dignified and didn’t deserve the verbal abuse, in fact every staff member I encountered throughout the venue were great.
BRIC House is also host to a broadcast studio.
Before the doors for the show opened I enjoyed a coffee on “the stoop”, checking out the current exhibit (at the time of writing), Art Into Music. The gallery and cafe are open to the public 8am-10pm Tuesday to Saturday and 8am-6pm Sunday/Monday (note: the gallery is closed on Monday).
The main ballroom is 3,600 square feet and holds 240 seated or 440 standing, it’s also worth noting that you can’t take any food or drink inside (I did have to gulp my coffee a bit quicker than I’d have liked when the queue started moving). Seated shows are also general admission, which usually leads to some confusion as things fill up, but otherwise the atmosphere is relaxed.
I went to see Kaki King perform her new piece, The Neck is a Bridge to the Body, and I have to say, it was completely stunning. The marriage between the visuals and music was perfect and extremely inventive (the guitar is used as another screen, sometimes complimenting, sometimes contradicting the main projections). I’ve seen a lot of guitar players over the years but haven’t seen a performance where musician and instrument really seemed at one with each other. If you get a chance, check it out, here’s a preview video that offers a glimpse but doesn’t do it justice.
The sound in the ballroom was very good, it would be interesting to see how it handles a larger ensemble, but you get a good feel for a room even if the setup is more minimal than an average show.
Whilst I tend to prefer the dingier venues New York has to offer, BRIC House is offering something new, varied and exciting. Not just a concert venue, but looks to be a real hub for the local community. I will look forward to every visit!
Check our dedicated listings page for BRIC House.