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Irving Plaza Rebranded; Tonic To Close

The quasi-independent live music scene in Manhattan continues to get smaller and weirder. First, the news of Irving Plaza’s rebranding as the Fillmore.

Then word of Tonic — one of the most intimate, no-frills venues to see live music in New York, period — losing its latest fight for survival:

Dear Musicians, Fans and Friends:

After more than 9 years as a home for avant-garde, creative, and experimental music, Tonic will reluctantly close its doors on Friday, April 13th, 2007. We simply can no longer afford the rent and all of the other costs associated with doing business on the Lower East Side.

The neighborhood around us has been increasingly consumed by “luxury condominiums”, boutique hotels and glass towers, all making the value of our salvaged space worth more then our business could ever realistically support. We have also been repeatedly harassed by the city’s Quality of Life Task Force which resulted in the debilitating closing of the ))sub((tonic lounge in January. Coincidentally, this campaign began as our immediate neighbor, the Blue Condominium building — a symbol of the new Lower East Side — prepared to open its doors.

As a business, we take responsibility for mistakes made along the way. If profit had been our chief motivation we could have changed our programming to something more mainstream and financially lucrative. Instead we were more committed to a certain type of music and loyal to the community that supported us. As a result, we’ve always just survived but never really prospered. It is, however, unfortunate that it is so difficult for small businesses to operate in this city and that a chain store that can afford a high rent is more desirable than a place like Tonic that has a different kind of value.

Toss in the past year’s shuttering of CBGB’s — probably long overdue — and move of Luna Lounge to Brooklyn and you’re left with a much quieter lower Manhattan. Which way to Williamsburg?

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