Peter Shapiro, founder, Brooklyn BowlThis precocious nightclub impresario created a whole new kind of venue
Concert promoter, filmmaker, club owner, magazine publisher and entrepreneur–the list seems to go on and on for Pete Shapiro, who founded the renowned concert venue Brooklyn Bowl. In fact, he has launched so many ventures in the last two decades that he confesses to feeling a bit fatigued from it all. But he has a remedy that works every time: putting on a new show. “I get reinvigorated, reenergized,” he told us in our From Day One podcast. “I think that happens to everybody at shows. That’s why shows are needed now more than ever–’cause everyone’s tired at the end of a day. And you go to a show, and you get lifted up.”
Shapiro, a New York City native, got rolling in show business in the 1990s with films like American Road, which documented a journey across the U.S. to a soundtrack of the Phish song You Enjoy Myself. He was a precocious entrepreneur from the start, taking over at age 23 as the proprietor of the activist Tribeca nightclub Wetlands Preserve. “Everyone was like, ‘What are you doing?’, but I was smart enough to realize this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he says.
In 2015, Shapiro promoted the Grateful Dead’s final reunion shows, which packed stadiums in Santa Clara, Calif., and Chicago. Along the way, he has produced projects ranging from the U2 3D movie to the Lockn’ Festival. He bought and refurbished the grand Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y., and launched the fall music festival Jazz & Colors, in Central Park.
Opened in 2009 in a converted old factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bowl was an improbable combination of music and amusement that just clicked. The venue houses a 16-lane bowling alley with a restaurant and bar featuring locally sourced food from Blue Ribbon. TimeOut New York described the space as taking “design cues from Coney Island with old freak-show posters and carnival-game relics.” Named No. 20 in Rolling Stone’s ‘Best Clubs in America,’” Brooklyn Bowl is more than just a concert venue, it’s a multi-sensory experience that has managed to draw many of the biggest names in music. Of its success, Shapiro reflects: “We thought it would be fun, but we didn’t expect we would do Guns N’ Roses or Kanye to Adele to Jane’s Addiction–we didn’t expect what happened, to happen.” His advice to others pursuing their dreams in music? “If there is a way to hold on to [the dream] you should go for it.” He has since expanded the Brooklyn Bowl experience to Las Vegas and promises more ventures to come. Sounds reinvigorating. –By Kora Feder
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