On Wednesday, July 17, Big Snow Buffalo Lodge had its last show. The venue, situated in an old party supply storefront 89 Varet Street in Williamsburg near the Bushwick border, had become as well-known for its open-armed, welcoming, absolutely no-bullshit attitude in the two years since it opened as it had for the staunchly DIY music it showcased.
Big Snow co-founder and -manager Yoni David was shot Wednesday when stepping outside after he’d been alerted to an altercation unrelated to the venue on the street; he’s now in the hospital with a shattered left arm. After the shooting, he and the rest of the crew that ran the space decided to shut down.
“The instant I cleaned up my best friend’s blood off the floor I made the decision to close,” co-manager Daniel Arnes told the Village Voice as part of a well-reported piece that’s worth reading in full. “Nothing is worth that. We built something that was important and dear to us and hopefully to other people. But anything else in my mind evaporated the second my friend was in danger. It was a shock. Surreal. Extremely unpleasant. We never thought we’d have to deal with something like this.”
By all accounts, Big Snow was a project run entirely out of a love for music, for running shows, and for enriching the scene in Brooklyn. The first time I ever came there, marveling at the space with its multicolored ceiling, trippy gnome murals, and video screens streaming the bands’ performances into the back room, I asked Yoni how they managed to pull it off. Was this a full-time job? Were they making money? “It’s a lot of work; we put on shows most nights of the week,” he said. As far whether or not the group was turning a profit, he just gave a little laugh and said nothing more.
The last time I was there was a few weeks ago, at a showcase for the excellent small record label Exploding in Sound. It was an epic, hours-and-hours long party with a full-capacity ending with a volcanic set from Massachusetts punks Pile (that’s my blurry photo from the show above). People were loving it so much the band had to remind crowdsurfers not to hang from a flimsy lighting bar positioned above the stage. When a ceiling-mounted projector literally fell on top of me as a result of someone’s particularly inspired moshing, a staffer or volunteer was there to make sure I was okay, and to get the equipment to safety before it suffered any further damage.
That’s the kind of place Big Snow was. I’ll miss it.