‘Tonic Tapes’ Revisits Band Demos from Music Venue

Posted on: January 15th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The old Tonic, Feb. 2009

The once-beloved Tonic celebrates its death date this spring, marking twelve years since its demise at the hand of gentrification. Priced out, the music venue closed forever on April 13, 2007 after a performance by John Zorn. (It was Friday the 13th that year.)

Being sandwiched between two luxury condo developments – Blue and the Switch Building – the space apparently needed something more sanitizing. It has since become a revolving door of high-end galleries.

Thanks to an enterprising fan who attended the final performances, though, the legacy of the music venue is further preserved.

“I attended two shows at Tonic on that final week back in 2007,” Tonic Tapes creator Manuel Arriaga states on the website. “On the second night, I asked the lady at the ticket booth about a beer carton containing 50+ demo tapes that was lying on the floor, looking as if it might soon be discarded. I could have them if I wanted them, I was told.”

Now, a dozen years later, those decaying demo tapes – submitted by groups to play at Tonic – are public. What spawned the interest?

Arriaga tells us that he just found the tapes after more than a decade and wanted them to see the light. He uploaded the cassette audio to YouTube.

“Tonic Tapes is just a personal tribute to Tonic and all the amazing musicians that played there,” he says

Tonic opened at 107 Norfolk Street in March 1998. The space evetually became a prestigious stop for the indie and avant-garde scene. Among the acts who played there over the years are Cat Power, Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, Cecil Taylor, Dave Douglas, Norah Jones, and the jam band Medeski Martin & Wood.

Recent Stories

Chinatown Homeless Murder Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

More than two years since the horrific murder of four homeless men in Chinatown, the suspect has yet to be held accountable for the crimes. In the early morning hours of October 5, 2019 Randy Santos stalked, then allegedly bludgeoned to death Cheun Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vasqez-Villegas while asleep on the streets. In […]

Excavation Begins for 70-Story South Street Towers

Cranes, and plywood, and pile-drivers, oh my! Such is the story down on the Lower East Side waterfront. Department of Buildings on April 12 issued official approval to the Chetrit Group to begin foundation activities for its dual 70-story tower at 265 South. A month later, the big trucks are mobilized. While excavation is now […]

For 7th Year Running, Greek Jewish Festival Returns to Broome Street this Weekend

After a more subdued outing last year, the Greek Jewish Festival this spring is on the rebound, pulling out the stops. It returns on Sunday for another go-round. Founded by Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome Street seven years ago, the event celebrates the culture and traditions of the Greek Jewish community. Years past saw crowds […]

Revisiting the Story of the Eastern Dispensary at 75 Essex Street

The historic Eastern Dispensary Building at 75 Essex Street – home of Eisner Bros. – will soon undergo major redevelopment to add a ten-story protrusion to its rooftop. Fresh off this news, which broke earlier this month, we thought it appropriate to revisit a Bowery Boogie entry from nine years ago detailing the history of […]

Motorcycle Driver Killed in FDR Drive Crash

A motorcyclist driving the FDR Tuesday morning lost control of the vehicle and died after hitting the roadway, police said. The driver, identified as Brooklyn 36-year-old resident Christian Reyes, had been traveling southbound on the FDR Drive at 7:10am in the vicinity of Exit 3, when he struck the left edge curbing and guide rail. […]