Andrew Muchmore is trying to be a good neighbor. He lives and operates a music venue on the first floor of a building he owns at North 9th and Havemeyer. It’s on a historically quiet block, inhabited by many Italian-American seniors who aren’t necessarily comfortable with the gentrification sweeping through their neighborhood. The venue is named, appropriately, Muchmore’s, and each night when the partying is through, he sweeps the cigarette butts off the sidewalk. Sometimes, he buys the neighbors poinsettias. And when they register noise complaints with the police, he pays the fine and continues about his business.
Muchmore is trying to follow the law. This is his first time running a bar, and he knows there’ll be hiccups along the way. When the fire department tells him he needs a fire escape, he builds one. When they tell him he needs a sprinkler system, he installs that too. When he gets hit with an obscure fine for “allowing more than two people to dance simultaneously in a bar without a cabaret license”, he contests it on legal grounds. That there are only 110 cabaret licenses in New York City and far more occurrences of “simultaneous dancers” is not something he makes a moral crusade of. At least not yet.
Muchmore is trying to be cool, although working as a construction litigation attorney on Long Island makes ultimate coolness somewhat more difficult to attain. But he’s decked the halls of his venue with graffiti of the hippest degree and hired a cool booking agent, Andrew Prieto, who has lots of experience putting on warehouse shows.
“We’re trying to make this a D.I.Y. venue that won’t get shut down,” explains Prieto. To Muchmore, that means capturing the “illegal show aesthetic” that’s become so popular in North Brooklyn, while actually doing everything by the book.
That’s a balancing act. All shows are all-ages, a necessary condition for maintaining cred in the underground community. But it’s a risk, considering the size of the fines for serving alcohol to minors, and the fact that there’s no one marking off minors at the door. (When asked the establishment’s carding policy vis-à-vis the bar, Prieto says “you have to pick your battles.”) The posters and web presence of the venue are – like the establishment itself – just sloppy enough to signal to their target demographic that they know how to walk the line of nonchalant self-promotion.
Make no mistake about it: Muchmore cares significantly more than the red-plastic cups he serves drinks in suggest. After all, he’s over a million dollars in debt with this place; and between the law practice, the venue, and playing landlord to the other tenants of his building, he’s working 100-hour weeks.
“I’m glad people are coming,” says Muchmore. “I was worried [the underground music scene] might not accept me as one of them. I’ve moved around a lot, but occasionally I find a special place in a city I can regularly attend, and meet all the people, and feel like I’m part of a community.”
2 Havemeyer Street
(718) 576 – 3222