In our exploration of Untapped music venues in New York City, perhaps SubCulture personifies this the most as “a subterranean music-and-arts oasis hidden beneath the streets of New York.” SubCulture is situated right beneath the Culture Project Theatre in NoHo. The appeal of the venue is its urban and edgy construction, which draws genre-bending musical artists and daring performance artists to the stage. 

We had the opportunity to do a walk through of the venue before attending a musical performance by Mary Lambert. The founders of the venue, Steven and Marc Kaplan, share the vision that SubCulture will serve as an environment that cultivates community, ingenuity, and new connections to different creative mediums. They selected the basement of the Culture Project because they felt that the location best fit their creative and aesthetic vision. They also felt that the close-knit NoHo community would be the perfect home for their venue as the neighborhood fully embraces the performance arts.
The actual construction of the venue took about four months to complete and they initially started the conception of the build-out in August of 2012. They faced a very daunting task of renovating and morphing the 100+ year old basement into the multidisciplinary concert hall. The end result is a very modern space, but it maintains some of the character of the original structure. The underground haunt provides the perfect acoustics for concerts. When Marc and Steven are vetting potential artists, they are really seeking out performers that deliver a dynamic performance. Their tastes are very diverse, and ultimately they want SubCulture to support artistic disciplines from a multitude of genres.

Mary Lambert’s show was the tenth concert at SubCulture as part of their summer long soft opening. Their public launch is slated for September. The intimate setting was the perfect environment for Lambert’s rich and soulful voice. She deftly played the piano during her entire show and further captivated the audience with her unparalleled talent for “spoken word”. Lambert has risen in the music charts since the launch of her EP Letters Don’t Talk in 2012 along with her collaboration on the track “Same Love” with musical power-duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. She has also been touring nationally with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and the solo performance at SubCulture was to celebrate the upcoming release of the acoustic version of “Same Love” entitled “She Keeps Me Warm”.

Her performance was very moving and she showcased the true depth of her talent; all the while engaging with the audience in a jokingly affectionate manner. She has the vocal maturity and range of Adele with the wit, satire and sharpness of Lily Allen. With her accompanied vocalist, the songs “This Heart” and “My Moon” vibrated richly and fully  in the space.  Her “spoken word” track, entitled “I know girls (body love)“, was a very emotionally provocative number. The audience was completely entranced by the lyrics in this song and by her pace of delivery. The acoustics of the stage served Lambert justly.

Mary Lambert – Forget Me

SubCulture is located at 45 Bleecker St., New York, NY. To view the schedule of upcoming performances visit their website here.