‘Tonic Tapes’ Revisits Band Demos from Music Venue

Posted on: January 15th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The old Tonic, Feb. 2009

The once-beloved Tonic celebrates its death date this spring, marking twelve years since its demise at the hand of gentrification. Priced out, the music venue closed forever on April 13, 2007 after a performance by John Zorn. (It was Friday the 13th that year.)

Being sandwiched between two luxury condo developments – Blue and the Switch Building – the space apparently needed something more sanitizing. It has since become a revolving door of high-end galleries.

Thanks to an enterprising fan who attended the final performances, though, the legacy of the music venue is further preserved.

“I attended two shows at Tonic on that final week back in 2007,” Tonic Tapes creator Manuel Arriaga states on the website. “On the second night, I asked the lady at the ticket booth about a beer carton containing 50+ demo tapes that was lying on the floor, looking as if it might soon be discarded. I could have them if I wanted them, I was told.”

Now, a dozen years later, those decaying demo tapes – submitted by groups to play at Tonic – are public. What spawned the interest?

Arriaga tells us that he just found the tapes after more than a decade and wanted them to see the light. He uploaded the cassette audio to YouTube.

“Tonic Tapes is just a personal tribute to Tonic and all the amazing musicians that played there,” he says

Tonic opened at 107 Norfolk Street in March 1998. The space evetually became a prestigious stop for the indie and avant-garde scene. Among the acts who played there over the years are Cat Power, Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, Cecil Taylor, Dave Douglas, Norah Jones, and the jam band Medeski Martin & Wood.

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