It seemed like an outdated concept: bringing bowling and live rock ’n’ roll to the center of the Strip. But one year later, our chapter of Brooklyn Bowl has proven itself to be one of the best music venues in the city.
Brooklyn Bowl, which turns 1 on Saturday, has held 325 events and hosted more than 125,000 guests, according to staff. That’s not a bad run. It shouldn’t come as a surprise—if you ask me, a venue that celebrates its grand opening with a weekend of performances by the Roots is destined for big things. With a great sound system and an atmosphere fit for any genre, the venue has brought hundreds of diverse acts to the stage, from Southern jam band Galactic to rock icons Jane’s Addiction to English electronic duo Disclosure. They don’t slouch on their hip-hop, either.
For us hip-hop heads, they’ve given us everything from old school to underground to up-and-coming stars. The past year has seen performances from Chance the Rapper (fingers crossed he comes back soon), Lauryn Hill, Atmosphere, Wu-Tang, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, Dizzy Wright and YG, among others. And there’s more on the way with conscious rhyme sayer Talib Kweli holding down the stage this Friday (March 6), Jurassic 5 baritone Chali 2na with electronic outfit the Funk Hunters March 14 and West Coast legends Warren G and DJ Quik March 28. (The old school rapper-producers perform their respective debuts, Regulate… G Funk Era and Quik Is the Name, in their entirety.)
Beyond the national acts, they’ve also shown love to local artists. One of my favorite emcees, Marion Write, has opened for touring acts, with hometown alt-country darling Jordan Kate Mitchell having her own headlining show. That tradition continues this weekend, too, with indie-pop band Love Hate Away getting top billing this Saturday (March 7) with support from shoegaze-y locals Luna Flore and acoustic duo My Fair Rosalie.
While the programming might seem all over the place, Brooklyn Bowl has built a community for lovers of quality music and entertainment. While most venues shut down when there isn’t a marquee act onstage, there’s always something to do at Brooklyn Bowl. There are karaoke nights, free bowling nights, burlesque shows and more. If nothing else, the fried chicken is damn good. It’s provided a much-needed alternative to the megaclub and overcrowded Downtown dive for birthdays and special occasions. It doesn’t feel like Las Vegas. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a good thing.
Here’s hoping for more big things in the years to come.