For the past eight years, Brooklyn venue Shea Stadium has been a home away from home for many. Shea is a welcoming space with wonderful people and, always, incredible music. From its long stairway to the show space to the swordfish on the wall to the string light sculpture hanging above the stage, Shea had a unique charm. Sadly, after battles with the NYPD over permits and a final blow of their landlord kicking them out of the space to pursue their own venue, Shea is currently without a home. Thankfully, a Kickstarter campaign raised almost $100,000 to help out Shea with what they needed to get set up in a new space. On top of that, this past Sunday, a benefit was held for Shea at another local Brooklyn venue, Baby’s All Right, featuring some of Shea’s all-stars, Ó, comedian Chris Gethard, Big Ups, Sharpless, and a solo set from Ian Sweet’s Jillian.
Ian Sweet’s Jillian Medford started the night off with a great set. She played songs from their fantastic EP, Shapeshifter , as well as some new songs. Jillian shared some of her feelings about the current closure of Shea, about how she was on the road when everything was happening and how she felt the need to help.
Sharpless was next up, and their energy was completely infectious throughout their set. From Jack Greenleaf and Montana Levy’s choreographed dance moves to the frenetic energy from their music, Sharpless’ set was one to remember. It was a big sing along as well, thanks to the lyrics being provided on a projection screen. The video was also an immersive experience, adding to the set’s adventure. Jack shared some words saying Shea was the first venue that gave him a chance to play. By the end of their set, Baby’s was dancing and Jack and Montana were on the floor with everyone.
One of the first bands I personally saw at Shea was Big Ups. From their intense set to an interaction with their lead singer on a bathroom line, they’ll always be associated with the place for me. Their lead singer, Joe Galarraga, took a minute to say that without Shea, he doubts Big Ups would have endured as long as they have. This evening, they brought it harder than I have ever seen. Joe was on fire, facial expressions and all. He’s an incredible presence on stage, he’ll get in your face if you’re in the front row, nothing between you other than a mic. Their guitarist, Amar was amazing as well, even with a slight pedal malfunction that resulted in some witty banter from Joe.
Other than being one of the most important music venues in New York City, Shea also had quite a big presence in the Comedy world. Chris Gethard was the perfect comedian to bring to this benefit. The first few minutes of his set was based on his experiences at Shea. From making eye contact with Patrick from Titus Andronicus in that long stairway to a surreal experience after a Front Bottoms show, Gethard showed that most of the artists who played Shea were also regular attendees. Gethard has always been seen as a DIY dude, and even though he has a HBO Special coming out on Saturday, that won’t ever change.
The final band to take the stage for this benefit was a band that played Shea so often, I must’ve seen them there at least 10 times. Ó (Formerly eskimeaux) rounded the evening out quite nicely. They played tracks from both their LP O.K. and their 2016 EP, Year of The Rabbit as well as some new stuff. Their new songs were lovely, and the old songs got everyone singing along. Lead singer Gabrielle Smith shared her feelings on the Shea situation as well, mirroring the frustration of Medford earlier in the night.
Sunday was an example of why Shea is such an important space. All of the acts have deep roots in the place. It’s always been a warm, welcoming environment, so it’s great to see the community be so warm towards it. It’s sad to know that there will be no more long nights on the deck outside escaping the hot pit at 20 Meadow, but right now the vibe is hopeful. Hopeful we’ll make many more memories in a new space soon.
Check out some pictures from the show below, and if you feel inclined, you can donate to Shea Stadium here.
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