zachary cole smith sounds off on diiv’s nyc residency and market hotel’s new beginnings
As he prepares to play for three straight nights at the newly reopened Bushwick space, we catch up with DIIV’s frontman about what Market Hotel means to NYC DIY.
Before DIIV's standout debut album Oshin was released in 2012, the band made its name by relentlessly gigging all throughout its hometown, Brooklyn. DIIV would often pull two-a-days — doubling up on shows per night — many of them staged at the now-shuttered warehouse spaces that spangled the Williamsburg waterfront. The band has outlived many of its former DIY haunts, including Death by Audio, Glasslands, and 285 Kent. For a while, it looked like the Market Hotel, too, would shutter long before DIIV played its own final set. But thanks to five years of grassroots organizing and serious labor, the beloved Bushwick space will host a three-night DIIV residency, beginning tonight.
For those unaware, Market Hotel is a venue located above Mr. Kiwi's deli at the intersection of Myrtle and Broadway, where JMZ train riders can almost reach out and touch it from the elevated subway stop. It's rumored that the space operated as a Dominican speakeasy in the 70s, but throughout the mid-aughts, Market Hotel played semi-illegal host to many of Brooklyn's best established and emerging bands (Deerhunter premiered its third album, Microcastle, during a 3AM set at the venue). But in 2010, cops charged up Market Hotel's creaking staircase and raided the building during a raucous Smith Westerns show. "For the near future, Market Hotel will go dark, and scheduled events will be relocated," the venue's founder Todd Patrick posted at the time of the raid. "The long term goal remains as it always has been: to make Market Hotel a licensed community space… but money is a challenge of course."
In 2011, Patrick received an anonymous $100,000 donation and has spent the past five years working tirelessly to get the building legally up to code. At the end of December, the newly renovated space hosted a soft reopening party which featured a surprise performance by Sleater Kinney. Girlpool and Mykki Blanco shows are scheduled for later this year -- Stormzy announced a date on his debut US tour yesterday. "We're proud that the space will be able to serve our neighborhood and our City beyond the traditional 'indie' music community — through diverse programming both culturally in the evenings, and in direct not-for-profit work giving back to the community we live in," reads a post on the venue's website announcing the reopening.
Having released its long awaited sophomore album, Is the Are, last month, DIIV has embarked on a series of multiple-night "residency" shows — first playing three nights at Los Angeles' Echo Theater before staging two consecutive dates in San Francisco. The band's decision to stage residencies stemmed from its desire to play intimate venues without limiting its audiences. "We wanted to do small club shows, but if we just did one night at the spaces, it would be way too exclusive -- it'd have kept people out," the band's frontman, Zachary Cole Smith, told us during a soundcheck break. "Residencies are way for us to play small rooms but still be inclusive -- get everyone in who wants to see us."
Though Market Hotel offers a practical solution, DIIV's decision to stage its NYC residency at the venue is chiefly personal. "Devin [DIIV's bassist] and Colby, our first drummer, met at Market Hotel; I met Devin while he was working the door. Todd, the guy who owns the place, kind of took him under his wing," Smith explained.
But DIIV's Market Hotel homecoming is bigger than even its personal foundations -- it celebrates the possibilities of a real NYC revival. "We played the last night at 285 Kent, we played the last night at Glasslands, and it felt like we were ushering out the end of some DIY scene in New York. It felt like all these things were ending," Smith explained. "So it's really cool for us to be a part of the beginning of something that feels DIY rather than an end."
Text Emily Manning
Photography Zachary Chick