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SubCulture brings the uptown experience downtown

SubCulture's Logo plaque mounted on interior wall
SubCulture's Logo plaque mounted on interior wall
Ryan Jensen

SubCulture, on New York City's Bleecker Street was started by Brothers Marc and Steven Kaplan in September of 2013. They always wanted to work together and had spent time on various writing and composition projects. The two are life-long musicians, and SubCulture, though not their initial idea, was the best fit for their complimentary skills. Marc, who manages the venue and curates the programming, has spent his career as an music educator and conductor and has additional experience in music production. Steven keeps a pulse on the New York music scene while using his background to keep the business side of things running.

SubCulture is clearly at home in it's environment. In fact, it was not named until the Kaplan Brothers found the basement space at 45 Bleecker. Once they found the space, name and design followed. “At the end of the day, SubCulture is all about three things; arts, ideas and experiences”, says Marc Kaplan, leading the way through a uniquely decorated entrance and down to SubCulture's space. The walls of the entry space are decorated with chronological newspaper artifacts from the NoHo (North of Houston Street) area of New York, where the venue is located. As the stairs descend, there is a wall crack-shaped sculpture of cultural artifacts from New York, the items getting older as the crack descends. This and other art around the venue celebrate the cultural geology of the city.

The performance space of SubCulture is a middle path between a concert hall and a jazz club. Though SubCulture has a bar with beer and wine, they do not have a drink minimum. The theatrical seating is moveable and the back tiers retract for different kinds of performances. The space's natural acoustics have shown themselves to be particularly good for classical chamber performances, but SubCulture hosts a variety of shows including classical, jazz, comedy and discussions. “This venue has a place in engaging the traditional concert experience in a non-traditional atmosphere”, says Kaplan.

SubCulture has a large array of musical and cultural shows coming up for their second season. Mary Lambert, known for the same-sex rights anthem “Same Love” will be performing on September 20 as part of SubCulture's Second Annual PianoFest. On September 5, Irish multi-instrumentalist and composer Julie Feeney will be kicking off SubCulture's “New Standard Series”, a curated series of musicians SubCulture is inspired by. Also new for SubCulture's second season is their Composer-In-Residence program. The first composer is Gregg Kallor, who will be joining SubCulture for two years. He will be debuting three pieces over the course of the season and collaborating with cellist Joshua Roman, violinist Miranda Cuckson, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, and baritone Matthew Worth.

SubCulture is clearly on its way up as a venue for New York City music and cultural events. Its attractiveness as a venue clearly centers on its ability to create intimacy with the artist . The cross of traditional concert-going values with a slightly more relaxed and hip atmosphere are likely to engage a wide range of concert goers in music and experiences that they might not see otherwise. The Kaplan brothers are clearly onto something here.