The Lot Radio offers refuge through music for the local Williamsburg community and beyond. [Credit : Katherina Nguyen]
(NEW YORK) — The Lot Radio hosted a livestreamed DJ music concert on Wednesday night Oct. 14 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It showcased local talent and helped keep the community safely connected through the pandemic.
The Lot Radio is an independently run, non-profit radio station that streams live music online from a reclaimed shipping container on an empty lot in New York City. Over the past few months, its 24/7 livestream collaborations have brought audiences to music from both local and virtual guest DJs. The daily sessions are labors of love offered online and in person.
Walking into Lot Radio’s onsite location is like stepping into a slice of Williamsburg history. Over the past five years, the neighborhood has become a mix of new and old construction cast over a sparse industrial landscape. Located a few blocks away is Output. Now a private wedding and conference event space, it was formerly a powerhouse of underground music that once drew in international name DJs and saw Williamsburg develop into a hip destination neighborhood. The area is quieter these days, but residents are still out and about this mild fall evening.
Arriving at the entrance of Lot Radio’s block corner, guests are greeted by staff manning the shipping container’s bar window. There is no entrance fee, and seating at the spaced-out open-air tables is first-come, first-serve. Farther in, lively conversations around an outdoor fire pit serve as an audio backdrop for sets playing through the speakers.
The lineup tonight is a mix of punk, techno, and club with a dash of hip-hop. DJs rotate through, jamming at the turntable in a turquoise-lit glass booth built into the shipping container. Loveless Label, a collaboration based between Brooklyn and Miami artists, plays on air, hosted by DJ Goodroid.
“A lot of clubs closed over the past months during COVID. Lot Radio has been helping clubs set up live-streaming channels to reach their community,” said Brooklynite Andrew Shum, sipping a Yerba Mate beer from the onsite cafe while nodding to the chill beats.
Ninety percent of independent venues will close within a few months without federal funding in addition to current PPP support, according to an Oct. 2020 statement by National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). These music and arts performance venues have been hard hit during the pandemic, with many states delaying reopening until 2021 or later while rent and bills continue to pile up.
For venues like The Well, a local beer hall and event venue serving Williamsburg since 2012, these financial pressures can end in permanent closure. NIVA is currently leading efforts to support the Save Our Stages Act— a piece of federal legislation to provide funding and protections for music venues.
While many clubs are in limbo, some have managed to succeed through community support and innovative space adaptations. Others have found an alternative revenue channel through merchandise sales, according to a report from Commercial Observer.
“Clubs that primarily brought in big-name, overseas DJs have closed down [while] smaller venues are still supported by the community. It’s nice to see local DJs regain some of that limelight.” said Shum.
These music aeronauts will continue to play on air to appreciative audiences from the Lot Radio’s corner every night, bravely raging on into the morning light as long as they can.