[NHM] New Haven Music

Bands of GPSCY vs. The Sound Police: The Heroism, The History, The Hope
February 2, 2010, 1:47 am
Filed under: Commentary, News | Tags: , , ,

As anyone who attended last week’s vastly under-attended (but not shut down!) Drink Up Buttercup/Cavemen Go show can attest, Yale’s GPSCY bar is one of the most underutilized live music venues in the city of New Haven. The upstairs ballroom, complete with a decent-sized stage and bar area, is the perfect size room for local, regional and/or even upcoming national acts. It is precisely the size room that downtown New Haven has lacked for some time now, perhaps since the Tune Inn closed in 2002. Although the sound system could use some work (according to the operations staff on at last week’s show, they’re hoping to remedy this in the near future), one is hard-pressed to envision a better set up for small to mid-sized acts in New Haven right now. To some this may be old news, especially those who put on the multitude of shows that occurred at the venue in the ’80s and ’90s or to Safety Meeting‘s Carlos Wells who tried (and ultimately failed after several noise complaints) to reintroduce regular shows to the venue last year.

So why the under usage you ask? As the story goes, the problems are two-fold. After years of hosting live music back in the day, GPSCY was forced to stop holding regular live music shows due to the construction of residential apartments nearby the venue. Apparently the residents of said new apartments had issues with the noise of living in the middle of a city (one would then beg to ask, why live in the middle of a city in the first place??) and logged several noise complaints against the GPSCY. The same scenario played out again last year when consecutive shows presented by Safety Meeting were shut down for much the same reason.

In addition to the noise issues, there also seems to be resistance from the Yale community at large in regards to bands (especially non-student bands) playing at the GPSCY. Without getting too bogged down in back-story, the GPSCY, for the most part, operates just like any other bar/venue in the city….except for the fact that Yale owns the property and building that houses the GPSCY. In addition GPSCY receives their utilities and a small amount of funding from Yale, as allocated by the Graduate Senate (most of their revenue is made the old-fashioned way and from an annual membership program open to anyone 21+). One can surmise though that continuously having non-student bands with a regular non-student audience at an on campus venue partially funded by Yale may seem like a conflict of interest for the University (after all, it should be primarily for student usage, right?). Overlooked, of course, is the fact that such a situation would only benefit the University with increased revenues from the larger audiences and, overall, help to nullify (at least temporarily) the seemingly ever-present ‘Townie v. Yalie’ divide present in the city..but that’s a whole other story.

All is not lost though. Generally speaking, the current operations staff at the GPSCY seems highly receptive to the idea of having more shows at the venue, even at one point asking the bands how they could make the venue better. And for the record, non-students are allowed in on most nights, although usually for a small fee. Perhaps somehow, and in some way, a compromise can be reached that would address the concerns of both Yale University and GPSCY’s super-sensitive neighbors in a way that would benefit all. With so few venues now available for live music in New Haven, the addition of any venue, especially one with qualities like the GPSCY, would be a welcome one.

Bands of GPSCY vs. The Sound Police
January 28, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: 21+, Commentary, News, NHM, Show Reviews, Shows | Tags: , , , ,

Apart from the annual Ideat Village festival, live music at Yale’s GPSCY bar has been a rarity in recent years. That all changed though last night when the first full night of music in years occurred at the GPSCY…or almost did.

At the onset, the show seemed like a success story for the books: Safety Meeting Records‘ Carlos Wells convinces Yale’s GPSCY Bar officials that it would be a great idea to have live music again, booking two of New Haven’s better bands in the process, M.T. Bearington (quirky indie-classicism with beards) and The Simple Pleasure (rock n’ roll electro with lots of dancing and lots of beats). Show gets great buzz online and in local press. Lots of people show up. Aside from a few flabbergasted Yalies (“who ARE all these people????”), the old Bulldog vs. Townie divide is temporarily broken down. A great time is truly had by all. And then, not even halfway through the Simple Pleasure’s high energy performance comes the news: ‘sorry guys, but we’ve got to stop the music…’

Apparently the presence of the ‘Sound Police’ is nothing new at the GPSCY. According to sources in the know, the GPSCY had hosted shows every Saturday night for years, that is until an apartment complex was built in close proximity to the bar. Thereafter, the noise complaints swiftly came rolling in until GPSCY management was forced to ban live music altogether. End of story, or so it seemed.

Fast forward to New Haven 2009: participation in local music is on the rise however many venues throughout the course of the past decade have either closed (Tune Inn, The Blues Cafe, Elm City Java) or have shied away from booking bands (GPSCY, Hell, Alchemy). As a result, there are fewer and fewer places nowadays for local bands (or any sort of band for that matter) to play. With a venue like the GPSCY, which is both located on a university campus and seemingly built for shows, it would have been a great reversal of fortune for local music and the city of New Haven. The difficulties of making something like this happen though begs one to ask: When will the city and its people learn that stifling events like this only hurts everyone involved? Does New Haven not want to project an image of an arts friendly community built on a mix of local and non-local talent? Or is this more about appeasing those who pay the bills?

For now the answers to these questions and more will remain to be seen until the next Safety Meeting Records night at the GPSCY, scheduled for Feb. 10th. Let’s hope that between then and now we can all agree that punishing the local arts community is not in anyone’s best interest.