Last Saturday night, while most were still digesting their Thanksgiving feast, moody songstress Marissa Nadler played NYC’s newest music venue—the stage at Rough Trade’s new Williamsburg outpost. In a room reminiscent of a scaled-down Bowery Ballroom, Nadler took the stage solo. With just a couple of guitars (one being 12-string, and requiring a bit of tuning) and her beautiful soprano voice, Nadler enchanted the crowd with her stark ballads. She is quiet and somewhat shy, but her singing, whether unprocessed or drenched in reverb, is the crux of her sound. A singer/songwriter clearly maturing with the impending release of her new albumJuly early next year, Nadler is one to keep an eye on once you’ve woken up from all the holiday time food naps.
Being as this is our first review of a show at the brand new Rough Trade space, you might be wondering about the record store half of this new venue. Right now it’s all new releases and no used bins! But I heard that they opened this store before they had their full inventory in to meet the opening date they had set. (And if you check their already-stuffed live schedule, they clearly couldn’t wait any longer to throw the doors open.)
The performance space is aesthetically pleasing, spacious, and includes a bar. It looks like they could create a really unique destination store if they handle it right, and that includes paying attention to price. The ingredients for success are there: cool industrial shipping container space, live performance venue, and Williamsburg: a perfect spot for their first U.S. record store attempt. The place needs the usual few months of breaking in, spilled beers, etc. And only offering brand new recs that start around $16 isn’t going to endear the place to the already record store-saturated Brooklyn contingent. But let’s hope they succeed. The performance space alone makes it great addition to NYC, as so many other venues are getting priced out of existence.
Photos and words by Robert Altman.