Reflections on Other Music


Maybe soon I’ll write something that isn’t deeply wistful and nostalgic, or perhaps even sad. Honestly, I’m not even sure where this post lies. It’s about the end of an era and the closing of an iconic store, but it’s also proof of continuity and community.

Let’s start by forgetting, if only for a moment, the trends in the music business that lead to lowered record sales and smaller royalties and store closings – that’s a dark rabbit-hole that we all know too well. And then let’s call this story exactly what it is – a civic eulogy.

On Saturday, June 25th, Other Music shuttered its East Village doors. It was a staple of the music scene in New York for 20 years, serving as a haven for the independents – the fringe – the connoisseurs. In an era of Top 40 and Virgin Megastores, Other Music was pretty obvious about how they understood their market share.


And that community appeared en force on Tuesday to send them off with a fitting farewell. Jazz artist Matana Roberts and band 75 Dollar Bill led a massive Second Line from the store-front to Bowery Ballroom, where they hosted a sold out send-off concert, Other Music Forever.

If you can measure a man by the company he keeps, then it probably follows that you can measure a music store by the bands that show up to ‘play’ goodbye. Julianna Barwick, Bill Callahan, Frankie Cosmos, Helado Negro, Menahan Street Band, Psychic Ills, Matana Roberts, The Tallest Man On Earth, Sharon Van Etten, Yo La Tengo, Yoko Ono, and John Zorn’s SIMULACRUM (with John Medeski, Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski) all joined forces to play a behemoth of a show in memory of their New York homestead. It was beautifully communitarian – no hierarchy, no headliners, no competition – exactly the principles that the store stood for during its 20 year indie reign. A church for underground music – a home for small production-run LPs – a musical landmark.

Check out their Twitter Feed for snippets of performances.

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