Paul Hammer shares his favorite spots for cocktails, concerts and culture
The Brooklyn Museum is incredible. We ended up playing there back in 2008. After that, we got friendly with the people who did some of the programming and played there three times. Every time we played there, the people were so friendly and were showing us what they were working on and different installations. It was cool because it just feels like a much more accessible version of The Met or MoMA. It’s also the difference between Manhattan tourism and Brooklyn tourism. Everything here feels more casual and intimate, [and] the Brooklyn museum is beautiful.
200 Eastern Pkwy, (718) 638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org
I lived three blocks from here, on South Fourth, for five years. I come here every time I come to the city now. My favorite environments are always the places that take their craft as seriously as possible but also don’t take themselves seriously… there’s not this pretense, there’s no snooty front, there’s no separation. This is almost like a DIY space where your favorite band is playing. There’s no separation between the performer and the fan — and I’m the fan, you know what I mean? Here, I meet the bartenders, and I talk to them, and it’s just chill. This is the best cocktail you’ll ever get, but you don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong. And that’s a thing! I almost never go to a restaurant with tablecloths, even if it’s the number-one restaurant in the world, because i don’t love that environment. [Here] it doesn’t feel fancy, but the quality is fancy.
161 Grand St, (718) 599-7888, freshkillsbar.com
One of my favorite bars. For a few of my friends with dogs, that’s the only bar they want to go to. It has this beautiful backyard… it’s like a dog run, but the owners are getting drunk.
It’s also one of the only bars that’s consistently open ’til 4am. And it’s also… certain bars just attract musicians more than others, and often it’s the ones that are the cheapest — it just works out that way. All of the venues are still around this area. Touring acts play Music Hall, Brooklyn Steel isn’t too far from here. So when I lived on South Fourth, I’d get a text message at 2am like, ‘Dude, we’re closing down Lucky Dog. What’re you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Nothing, sleeping… but I guess I can go do this.’ Those are some of the nights I regret, but they’re memories.
303 Bedford Ave, (347) 294-4971, facebook.com/luckydogbrooklyn
McCarren Park is one of my favorite places. The last 10 years of my life have been focused around this circle between Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick, whether it’s music venues, rehearsal spaces, where we hang out, where we get in trouble, where we don’t get in trouble…
McCarren, as soon as it got warm, I have these memories of Turkey’s Nest — you get a styrofoam cup with a margarita and you go to McCarren Park. There’s something about it that for me is this landmark — you know, walking through the park, listening to our latest mixes, or walking home from rehearsal. It’s definitely the most nostalgic place because I’ve walked through it so much in different seasons…. I have all these memories. And it’s interesting because every city has their McCarren Park — a smaller park in a hipper neighborhood — and I don’t know what it is, but there’s a certain energy to that. I love it.
776 Lorimer St, (212) 639-9675, nycgovparks.org/parks/mccarren-park
Prospect Park Bandshell
My other favorite non-North Brooklyn [spot] is the bandshell in Prospect Park. That’s the coolest fucking thing — a bucket-list thing to be able to play that. It’s such a Brooklyn level-up achievement.
141 Prospect Park West, (718) 683-5600, bricartsmedia.org
Feature image: Ben Curry
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]