At the western edge of Brooklyn’s rapidly gentrifying Gowanus district, ShapeShifter Lab, which hosted some 300 shows from its March 2012 launch through the end of the year, occupies a one-story facility mid-block on Whitwell Place. A graffitied roll-down gate displays the ShapeShifter logo in gray lettering on an aqua background. Behind it is a 3,600-square-foot performance area with a large, slightly raised bandstand, whitewashed brick walls, a smooth concrete floor, a makeshift kitchen and a bar stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee and tea. Next-door is a 600-square-foot office from which electric bassist-composer Matthew Garrison and his business partner, Fortuna Sung, oversee operations. The space is chock-a-block with equipment-instruments, microphones, mixers, speakers, lighting fixtures, computers, Internet servers, motion sensors, security cameras, an SUV-sized HVAC unit.
“Five or six years ago, this wasn’t an area to hang out,” Garrison said. “Now you have moms with strollers and puppies.” Afternoon was turning to evening on New Year’s Eve, which the co-proprietors intended to observe with a rare evening off.