by Andrew Rosenberg, 01/28/2014
The Bell House. Photo: Sam Horine
The 2008 opening of The Bell House was perhaps the biggest cultural, um, bellwether for Gowanus. This old printing factory by the bleak intersection of Second Avenue and 7th Street is a great place to see rock old and new, with a wide stage room and a front area that serves as a worthwhile bar even when there's no show on. It's not all indie music, either: you're nearly as likely to come across a comedy night, story slam or celebration of Johnny Cash as you are Mission of Burma. Another warehouse-to-rock-club conversion has taken place at Littlefield, where in addition to regular Monday comedy nights and album-release parties, art shows are on exhibit. Newer still, on the tiny single-block street of Whitwell Place, ShapeShifter also displays art on its white brick walls. But the name comes from the space's dynamic ability: the stage and seating can be manipulated to fit the needs to the performing (or recording) artists—typically in the jazz vein, sometimes with World and experimental influences.