JP Jofre @ Subculture, New NoHo Club

SubcultureLike a painter mixing light with dark, the billowing harmonies of the accordion alternately evoke dangerous love or imminent death.

A cousin of the accordion, the bandoneon, is larger and more dramatic, amplifying hokey subway carousel music to an elaborate soap opera of emotions. I recently attended a performance of some of the greatest works on this instrument, the compositions of Astor Piazzolla, performed by fellow Argentinean, JP Jofre and his American accompanists, The Attaca Quartet. The music brought me underground – to a new but accessible venue space, Subculture.

Founded by a two brother team whose ying and yang was the entrepreneurial (the businessman) and the emotional (the musician and educator), Subculture is a new and promising figure in the downtown music scene. With its stylish NoHo location, and polished performance space, Subculture attracts a unique mix of fashionable and music-appreciative but little of the Instagram-ing debaucherous NYU crowd making rounds further west on Bleecker.

With comfortable theater seating and a limited, but carefully curated bar and snack menu, the focus is assuredly on the stage. Like Instagram, however, the space feels at times over-curated, with an over-attention to detail or “getting all the intangibles right” as one of the owners acknowledged. For those who appreciated excellent acoustics, and rapt audiences, this should not be a problem. The name of the space is a sort of sly misnomer, at least for now. While the venue indeed occupies a basement, the performances might attract more of an Uptown crowd than say, secret abandoned loft shows in Bushwick. While the programming is adventurous (in the way that trying an exotic cuisine is adventurous these days), despite the slyness of the name and subterranean location, I don’t believe the owners intend to be gritty. And that’s fine – it is quite nice to cultivate a good thing.

The music too benefited from un-programmed moments– when Jofre finished the deftly-performed “Five Tango Sensations” by Piazzolla, he launched into a series of touching and deeply-felt personal compositions.

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About Matthew Herzfeld

Matt Herzfeld is a freelance writer, music supervisor and musician, and serves as Music Project Manager for the French Music Office at the French Embassy in the US. He is based in New York City.
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