Brooklyn Bowl has hosted an incredible array of bands, genres and shows in its six-year existence. And to mark today’s birthday, we’ve asked the staff to name some of their favorite shows so far.
Snoop Dogg, 4/19/10
It’s never too early for Snoop to celebrate 4/20, and that’s exactly what he did here one night early, winning over the crowd with his party vibe on a Monday night and a mix of old and new tunes.
Doing business as N.E.R.D., Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley don’t like to be pigeonholed into one sound. And on this night, they let their freak flag fly, pumping out funk, rock and hip-hop, captivating the packed house in the process. And while that would’ve been enough on its own, Lupe Fiasco joined them onstage, sending the show over the top.
When M.I.A.’s Hard Fest show on Governors Island that summer was cut short due to the weather, she promised she’d come back and play for free. And that’s exactly what the “Paper Planes” singer did. And, as expected, she had everyone—including Rye Rye—dancing the night away.
Kanye West, 10/23/10
As local music fans were spread all across town on the last night of CMJ Music Marathon, word began to spread that Kanye West would be doing a late-night show at Brooklyn Bowl. Could it really be true? Yes! Yeezus took the stage somewhere around the time Saturday bled into Sunday, looking like “a Pharaoh who had spent the day lounging poolside, and had just decided to drop in for a quick surprise show. But if his appearance was goofy, his performance was anything but,” according to Rolling Stone.
Alabama Shakes, 12/8/11
By the time Alabama Shakes rolled into Brooklyn Bowl on a late-fall Thursday night, thanks to their self-titled EP, Brittany Howard and Co. were already too big for our intimate venue. But their soulful Southern rock didn’t disappoint, and the band’s quick upward trajectory continued.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 12/16/11
Beloved DJ, musician and producer Jonathan Toubin suffered massive injuries after being struck by a cab in Portland, Ore. While he was still in a hospital, local heroes Yeah Yeah Yeahs teamed up with friends like Gibby Haynes, Tunde Adebimpe and others to raise money to assist with Toubin’s considerable medical bills.
Aaron Neville and Paul Simon, 11/28/12
Aaron Neville arrived at Brooklyn Bowl just after Thanksgiving for a taping of the PBS special My True Story. It was a pretty great show and that would probably be enough for its inclusion on the list. But what really made it so special was guests like Paul Simon.
Umphrey’s McGee, 1/20/13
Winter in New York City can be brutal, but progressive rockers Umphrey’s McGee, a band that usually plays much bigger venues, warmed up the room and everyone in it while celebrating their 15th anniversary, turning an otherwise blah Sunday into something special. (Plus, they ended the show with a pretty sweet cover of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.”)
D’Angelo and Questlove, 3/4/13
It began with a mysterious tweet from Questlove, promising something “major.” It had been 13 years since D’Angelo’s landmark universally acclaimed second album, Voodoo, had won over the masses. But he hadn’t been seen—or heard from—too much since. Billed as the Soulquarians: Brothers in Arms, the longtime friends put on a two-man show for the ages. And despite the Roots drummer telling concertgoers, “We just jam and see what happens. Lower you expectations,” that proved to be totally unnecessary. “Once they finished, and left for good, the lights in Brooklyn Bowl came up and no one seemed to know what to do with themselves,” declared Grantland. “But unlike last call, no one felt shame or disgust.”
Guns N’ Roses, 6/6/13
As a warm-up to their headlining show at Governors Ball two
nights later, Axl Rose’s Guns N’ Roses put on an arena-size show at, well, a bowling alley in Brooklyn. Alternating between Chinese Democracy material and GNR classics, they had everyone in the building throatily singing along—including Questlove.
Their debut album, Days Are Gone, wouldn’t come out for another three months, but the buzz behind sister-band Haim was already building by the time they played Brooklyn Bowl that summer. And thanks to throwback songs like the sing-along “The Wire,” they quickly converted everyone in the room into believers.
Elvis Costello and the Roots, 9/16/13
Known musical collaborators Elvis Costello and the Roots teamed up on the lauded 2013 album Wise Up Ghost, and they came to Brooklyn Bowl to perform it, uniting post-punk, hip-hop and rock fans in the process.
Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band, 11/14/13
Inspired by Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, Phil Lesh launched his own West Coast approximation, Terrapin Crossroads, in 2012. Of course in order to see him playing with the Terrapin Family Band, you had to head out to San Rafael, Calif. Until he decided to take the band on the road, all the way to Brooklyn, delighting a sold-out room filled with Heads and rock fans.
Part of a five-night run in Brooklyn clubs, famed DJ Skrillex stopped in Williamsburg just before Valentine’s Day, playing new songs, plenty of old stuff, mashing together reggae, dubstep, four-on-the-floor beats and pop, turning Brooklyn Bowl into a sweaty dance palace.
Bob Weir & RatDog, 6/4/14
Bob Weir & RatDog teamed up with Eric Krasno, Marc Brownstein, Brendan Bayliss, the Lettuce horns and others to celebrate the 10th anniversary of HeadCount—and to kick off Mountain Jam, starting the next night.
Ms. Lauryn Hill, 7/27/14
She’s only done two solo albums, in addition to her work with the Fugees, and she doesn’t perform live all that often, but when Ms. Lauryn Hill is ready, you’d better be, too. That’s what we learned on this night, when, radiating talent and love, she proved she remains as relevant as ever.
Trey Anastasio Band, 8/17/14
Playing a much smaller venue than usual, the Trey Anastasio Band taped an intimate live performance for the PBS show Front & Center, debuting songs from his highly anticipated upcoming solo album, Paper Wheels. Even the Dude of Life thought it was special.
Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, 10/9/14
Touring behind his acclaimed 10th studio album (and first with the Sensational Space Shifters), Lullaby and … the Ceaseless Roar, Robert Plant played an extremely rare club show, going on after midnight. Of course, as one of the finest frontmen in the history of live music, he was in as fine form as ever, deftly mixing new material with reworked Led Zeppelin classics, all the while with the packed crowd in the palm of his hand.
Stevie Nicks with Deer Tick, 12/31/14
There was no better way for Deer Tick to cap their six-night run celebrating their 10th anniversary than with the legendary Stevie Nicks sitting in to close the run, the show and the year with a terrific version of “Rhiannon.”
Jane’s Addiction, 5/13/15
Before “Been Caught Stealing” catapulted Jane’s Addiction into the mainstream, their acclaimed debut studio album, Nothing’s Shocking, arrived in 1988. And taking a look back, Jane’s rolled into Williamsburg earlier this year to play it in its entirety, plus some numbers from the rest of their catalog. The result? A room full of people whose faces hurt the next day from smiling so much.
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