06 April 2007


A sad day for New York City’s avant garde music scene ... The lower east side club, Tonic, has announced that it will close its doors for good next Friday night (Friday the 13th).

A regular venue for such folks as Marc Ribot, John Zorn, John Medeski, Arto Lindsay, Yo La Tengo, and many others, this is -- was -- my favorite club in the city. For the past decade, its existence -- coupled with the Knitting Factory -- proved that lower Manhattan could support not one, but two downtown musical venues featuring music that pushed the envelope seven nights a week.

Recent highlights include John Zorn’s 50th-birthday celebration, which featured a month-long series of performances at Tonic, as well as the live recording of the Medeski, Martin, and Wood album, Tonic (2000).

And one of the best shows I've ever attended was at Tonic in 2001, where I heard the extraordinarily elusive but marvelous Belgian singer, Catherine Jauniaux, accompanied by Marc Ribot. Jauniaux's young son spent the entire evening crawling around under the piano, while his mother and Ribot made extraordinary sounds together: just the kind magical night one could only find at Tonic.

This club will be dearly missed.

From the press release:

After more than 9 years as a home for avant-garde, creative, and experimental music, Tonic will reluctantly close its doors on Friday, April 13th, 2007. We simply can no longer afford the rent and all of the other costs associated with doing business on the Lower East Side.

The neighborhood around us has been increasingly consumed by "luxury condominiums", boutique hotels and glass towers, all making the value of our salvaged space worth more then our business could ever realistically support. We have also been repeatedly harassed by the city's Quality of Life Task Force which resulted in the debilitating closing of the ))sub((tonic lounge in January. Coincidentally, this campaign began as our immediate neighbor, the Blue Condominium building - a symbol of the new Lower East Side - prepared to open its doors.

As a business, we take responsibility for mistakes made along the way. If profit had been our chief motivation we could have changed our programming to something more mainstream and financially lucrative. Instead we were more committed to a certain type of music and loyal to the community that supported us. As a result, we've always just survived but never really prospered. It is, however, unfortunate that it is so difficult for small businesses to operate in this city and that a chain store that can afford a high rent is more desirable than a place like Tonic that has a different kind of value.

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