149 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Hours: Mon-Fri 5p-4a, Sat-Sun 5p-4a
Subway: F,G,R to 4th Ave
Written by: Nick D’Amore
Set amid the boxy utilitarian buildings at the end of a block in the Gowanus section of Park Slope, is perhaps the brightest spot of the borough’s burgeoning music scene: The Bell House. Converted from a 1920s printing press warehouse to a spacious and welcoming venue, this hot spot has retained its antique charm, while using a sparse decor to mimic its surroundings.
The Bell House was conceived by the same folks who established the great Union Hall in Park Slope and Floyd, NY in Brooklyn Heights. It is easily one of the top music venues in Brooklyn and, perhaps, the entire city. The music room, located in the back of the venue, is well suited as a multi-purpose space and a glance at the venue’s calendar of events is evidence of the venue’s versatility and the disparate groups of people who can enjoy events there together.
Keep an eye out for nights of large-scale trivia, burlesque shows, ping-pong tournaments or a viewing of the television season finale of Mad Men. Whisk away the tables and chairs and there is ample standing room for rock shows, DJ dance parties and shows featuring established artists that inevitable pack the place, such as: Jonathan Richmond, Roky Erickson, Nick Lowe, or John Oates—of Hall & Oates. Some of the more memorable events in The Bell House’s brief history include The Thermals’ performance, the many LOST viewing parties of NBC’s hit TV show, the reunion of New York hardcore legends, Agnostic Front, and a fundraiser for Haiti, following its disastrous earthquake. Heather Dunsmoor, who books the club, says she focuses on events that can fill the spacious room, but, “We’re open to anything as long as there is public interest in it.”
Music events at the The Bell House are particularly satisfying, due in part to the room’s good acoustics. The 25-foot wooden arched ceiling guarantees stellar live sound. Excellent sightlines also play an integral role in the appeal. Contrary to most music venues, where the stage is positioned at the far end of a rectangular space, the 450 square-foot stage at the The Bell House is along a side wall, creating a room more wide than long. This allows for an intimacy between the audience and the performer, despite the room’s large size.
The Bell House staff is also focused on providing the performers themselves with an optimum experience at the venue. They work to make each event as fun and stress-free as possible for the acts booked, whether by providing great sound or fulfilling a rider request. “We’ve always been very aware of artists needs and we try every day to make sure performers walk away with a great experience. As long as they’re happy, we’re happy,” Heather says.
The front bar is a laidback area where patrons can enjoy a break from the crowd, a quality pint or cocktail, and relax and converse on comfortable couches and chairs. Both the music room and the front bar/lounge serve primarily local and independent beers and interesting cocktail creations, such as: Surfer Rosa, Pinkerton and Mellow Gold. Also, there is a limited, but intriguing food selection at the Bell House, such as cheeses, and various meat and vegetarian pies.
Similar to the complementary venues that have sprung up around Brooklyn in the recent years, The Bell House strives to be an active and positive component to their surrounding neighborhood.