It has all of the makings of a traditional concert. There's a sound system and a DJ. Overhead lights cast green and red hues on the stage. But the tiny, elevated platform is situated in front of giant silver drums of beer. And the headliners -- people you may not know yet -- are mostly local musicians performing their own songs.
Welcome to the Don Audio Showcase -- a concert series featuring three bands every first Saturday of the month inside Patchogue's BrickHouse Brewery.
"Instead of getting bands who are doing covers, I'm giving bands who are doing original music the chance to perform," says its founder, Donald Nostrand, 41, of St. James. "It's tough for people to sometimes swallow original bands, because they don't know what they're going to get."
But that doesn't seem to be a problem for the standing-room-only audience of more than 75 people who came to last month's gig. Women clack their high heels to the grooves and one man, after hearing a feverish riff from Huntington funk band Sir FunKtion, yells, "Play that guitar!"
WHAT TO EXPECT
Each band performs a 45- minute set during the showcase, which is typically themed to different subgenres of rock. Past performances have included everything from folk and indie to electronica.
Saturday's showcase will feature the "swampy" rock take on electrified R&B by Southside Players, A Grayscale Sky's brand of progressive rock, and the jam band fusion of rock, funk, blues and reggae by High on Arrival.
Seating comes at high-top tables or stools dotting a large wooden bar. The space is slightly narrow. Most patrons jamming to the music crowd a few feet from the stage.
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Such intimacy between the audience and bands enhances the show, says Gail Vela, 51, of Dix Hills. "It really makes you feel part of the scene," says Vela, who came to watch her 22-year-old son, Joe Vela, play the second set with his band, Tweed.
"I think it's great that there are places like this where you can hear up-and-coming local bands," adds his father, Mike Vela, 52. "You've got to give the kids a break."
Don Audio Showcases often include some artistic element besides music, since the brewery's second-level loft space is home to rotating art exhibits. At Saturday's session, artists living at Artspace in Patchogue will present their work.
Meanwhile, patrons can paint on a two-sided piece as part of the "Shifting Reality Project" -- a painting that constantly changes as it makes its way across several Long Island locations.
At a recent session, art is taken to a whole new level, literally. On the brewery's roof, a dancer twirled two ropelike cords with balls of fire at the ends. Yellow and white flames zipped in circles, almost like fireworks, against the dark night sky.
But back to the music. By 11:22p.m., Tweed had coaxed the audience to rock with their psychedelic blends of jam, funk and electronica. Jocelyn Kuan, 29, an artist from Patchogue, had no problem dancing with her partner Crios, another Patchogue artist.
"We always come here," she says, taking a break. "We like the music. We like the environment."
The setting allows experimental forms of music to take shape, like the Durians' booming synths, heavy drums and instrumentals reminiscent of alien screeches -- so bombastic that the floorboards shake.
"It's awesome," says Anthony Commesso, 31, of Patchogue. "You can't really go anywhere else and get quality music and get beer."
Don Audio Showcase
WHEN | WHERE 10 p.m. first Saturday of the month at Brick House Brewery, 67 W. Main St., Patchogue
INFO 631-447-2337, brickhousebrewery.com
ADMISSION $5 (ages 21 and older only)