Where to Rock Fat Tuesday: Fort Useless in Brooklyn

Fort Useless Brooklyn

If your goal is to celebrate N’Awlins with all of the jambalaya (and great music, of course) but none of the obnoxious crowds, here’s an off the beaten path option for you to consider.

DIY music venues are now just as significant in the New York indie scene as the more traditional bar venues. Brooklyn’s Fort Useless opened its doors in mid-August. The man behind this operation is Jeremiah McVay, who’s been putting together shows all over the city as part of his StereoActiveNYC.com project for years. Through this website, he covers shows and news on local bands. It’s like BrooklynVegan but more personal, more local, and more underground.

Hailing from the Bayou State, McVay is particularly amped for the Mardi Gras event he’s put together this coming Saturday, February 13. The night will include a stellar line-up of performances by Holy Moly!, Dinosaur Feathers, Ava Luna, and Flying Pace.

Fort Useless, like all DIY spaces, is an unexpected experience. The room is incredibly intimate, helping provide a solid connection between the artists and the audience. In addition to rock shows, Fort Useless holds art openings, comedy nights, poetry readings, and a monthly Songwriter’s Salon featuring acoustic performances by members of established local indie rock acts. The vibe at the Salon is akin to a campfire where friends sit around and share songs with each other. This spirit of musical support is a real special quality that promotes community, positivity, and artistry.

In this case, DIY doesn’t equate to grimy and shambolic as can frequently be the case. The décor is simple but tidy, the sound delivers a solid honest mix, the atmosphere is laid-back, and the room is always full of people who care deeply about music. That means when a song breaks down to a quiet part, audience chatter will not drown the tender musical moment.

You’re not going to find cheaper beer unless you grab a sixer at the bodega and stay at home. All these factors make Fort Useless a rare and welcome gem to the live music landscape in Brooklyn. It’s no stretch to call this place a music sanctuary.

How to get there: Fort Useless is at 36 Ditmars Street in Brooklyn, one block from the Myrtle Avenue/Broadway stop on the J, M, and Z trains. Like many DIY venues, the front façade may have you questioning if you are in the right place. But trust the address, and bravely walk in. There will likely be a flyer of some kind indicating that you are indeed in the right place. For more information, you can visit their myspace page.

Photo: Courtesy of Flickr