Brooklyn Made Invites Music’s Biggest Bands to Play a Very Small Room
The 500-person capacity club strives to offer visiting performers a one-of-a-kind experience
It came to Anthony Makes in a dream.
Makes, the former president of Live Nation New York and a veteran of Bowery Presents, woke up one morning in 2017 next to his then-girlfriend (now wife) with the idea for a company and its name in his head.
“I turned to her and said, ‘I just had the coolest dream in my life. I want to open up a company called Brooklyn Made and do a concert venue. I want to make this happen,’” Makes tells InsideHook. “That was four years ago. I stuck with the dream and the idea and decided to act on it three years later.”
Makes acting on his dream led to him partnering up with Kelly Winrich of the band Delta Spirit to acquire a mysterious former warehouse on Troutman Street in Bushwick that the former owner had been renovating for nearly a decade in the hopes of operating it as a concert venue. Intending to open in the spring of 2020, the warehouse owner decided he wanted out and reached out to Winrich, with whom he was already friendly.
“It was all very serendipitous. We met with him and really hit it off,” says Makes, a Queens native. “The Bowery folks and Live Nation had all been trying to get in with him and he wouldn’t have anything to do with them. He just loved my vibe, our plans and what we’re all about. One thing led to another and we took over the venue last November.”
That venue, obviously called Brooklyn Made, opened last night with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco playing the first of two shows to christen the 500-capacity performance space, which features state-of-the-art lighting designed by Jeremy Roth (Wilco, Nathaniel Rateliff, Morning Jacket) and a high-end sound system by D&B Audiotechnik that Winrich helped customize.
“Kelly and I were both just super keen to spare no costs or expense to bring in the most insane mind-blowing lights and sound stuff ever,” Makes says. “It’s major vibey in there. You’re in this tiny intimate setting with Jeff Tweedy or Band of Horses or Steve Earle right on top of you, looking at you.”
At Tweedy’s venue-opening show on Thursday night, that pretty much was the case. as the 54-year-old worked his way through a solo set that spanned nearly two hours, from solo material (“Some Birds”) to Wilco standards (“Jesus, Etc.”) to a few choice covers (“Don’t Let Me Down”). While the feeling in the room wasn’t quite as intimate as, say, a cozy jazz club, not much was missed by the performer or the audience as dropped drinks and shouted song requests — followed by Tweedy’s immediate, inimitable banter — were just as audible as his crisp, clean guitar work and vocals.
Tweedy, who could easily sell out a substantially larger venue playing solo or with his band, is the first of many big-name acts that Makes hopes to book at Brooklyn Made by offering visiting artists perks like a spacious on-site residence complete with a private outdoor swimming pool and multiple roof decks offering panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline — as well as paying out a hefty cut of the face value of tickets as a performance fee.
“After touring the world for the better part of 20 years, a big thing for my partner Kelly was to create an environment where artists would be blown away and so comfortable that they just can’t wait to get back here and play multiple nights,” Makes says. “I think that’s what it’s going to evolve to. That’s my personal goal. I feel like this place is built for big bands to do underplays. That’s what gets me going and gets me excited.”
To offset what he is paying out to lure top talent like Tweedy to Bushwick, Brooklyn Made’s music room will operate alongside an attached all-day bar called Connie’s featuring an outdoor courtyard and second-level roof deck that will offer food and drink until the early morning on non-show days as well as provide a place for concertgoers to hang out before and after shows. Brooklyn Made will also run a café next door called Standing Room that will open early for breakfast and coffee then turn into a cocktail/wine/tapas bar with a full kitchen in the afternoon and evening.
“We’re trying to do a different model with the artists and to get them more of the gross and use other avenues of revenue [for us]. I’m trying to redo the model to give them all of it and just cover our minimum house expenses for a show,” 52-year-old Makes says. “We plan to be a thriving daily business intend on not having to rely on being a typical cookie-cutter venue that opens at 7 and has everyone show up 9 o’clock for the headliner, have their two classes of draft beer in a cup, and leave. I just was doing the draft beer list and it’s all kick-ass local breweries we’re using. You don’t go into many venues with a full cocktail list and the food menu is excellent too. This is a different experience and I don’t know any other business models like this. I’m riding my own bet. I haven’t seen this get done, so I’m trying to create it.”
Sounds like his dream is coming true.
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