You know that a place is cool when its last summer of booked events has ranged from high-ticket weddings and a school prom to concerts featuring members of Hole and Sonic Youth, a rollicking arts fair, film, theater and foodie happenings as well as dances choreographed specifically for its massive raw interior. And the potties are still mostly portable.
Basilica Industria, the Hudson-based cultural venue, sits by the Amtrak line between New York City and Montreal. You can see the Hudson and looming Catskills from its front doors and side courtyard. It’s theater space is graced with mismatched chairs, a bar, a side building used for conferences and gallery shows and little if no heating (unless it’s brought in). It was built as a wheels factory. Later it was home to a glue factory. And then a Florida wildman entrepreneur named Patrick Doyle bought it and turned it into a music and party venue with a knack for booking the occasional huge name, like Patti Smith and Moby, for local benefits – and regularly drawing the City of Hudson’s Fire Department to put out the bonfires that he had a penchant for setting during those events.
Following a massive 2010/11 New Year’s Eve launch party for the local hipster community radio station WGXC-FM that saw dozens of bands, thousands of well-wishers, a hula-hooping burlesque show and a spectacularly haunting bird-girl aerial act, Basilica shifted to new owners – and the rest is the current history mentioned earlier. “We are now a specialized music venue… We are an alternative to what’s in Albany and Poughkeepsie,” said the new ownership group’s erudite and colorful spokesperson, Melissa Auf Der Maur, bassist for Hole, Smashing Pumpkins and her own alt/metal bands. “The millennium changed everything… This 300,000-square-foot space has endless possibilities… We are never going to finish all of its potential.”
Auf Der Maur is running Basilica with her husband, the indie filmmaker Tony Stone (Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America) and his parents, the artists Bill Stone and Nancy Barber-Stone. All four have become stalwarts of the local cultural and social scenes, and have attracted a growing number of other scenemakers – in the visual, film and literary arts, as well as New York academia – since their big purchase. All four, with Auf der Maur as their spokesperson, seem to be placing the idea of fun and cutting-edge exploratory creative experimentation above all else – and drawing good crowds and an increasing amount of press along the way.
Recent events have included concerts by the hot new synth/pop star Grimes and the “post-rock” Montreal-based phenomenon Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Currently they’re in the midst of a film series that peaks this Thursday, October 18 with a rare screening of the underground classic The Perfumed Nightmare, an edgy and beautifully emotional Filipino film that completely wowed Werner Herzog, and whose filmmaker, Kidlat Tahimik, will be in attendance. Coming up on Sunday, October 21 will be a screening of the AIDS history film How to Survive a Plague: Detropia on October 25, and an evening of midwifery films on November 1.
Then, in winter, who knows? Last year, the highlight was a first-ever solo sculptural installation by Laetitia Hussain that, despite the freezing temperatures, drew a great crowd who kept each other warm. That may be the key to this grand, excitingly edgy new venue’s gestalt: It provides the sorts of strange, fun events that highlight the rawness of a space that, in the end, ignites its growing audiences’ own heat – which is really as it should be.
Basilica Hudson, open for rentals and certified for film shoots, is located at 110 Front Street in Hudson, just past the Amtrak station, with loads of nearby parking. For further information, visit www.basilicahudson.com or www.facebook.com/basilicahudson.