Sounds Asylums: Punk Venues Of The Hudson Valley

Republished from the archives of Alternative Nation, 2015.

The mid-Hudson valley has something of a shortage of venues; the biggest pavilion-type venue is the Bethel Woods Center For the Arts, located near the site of the original Woodstock festival, which itself is far removed from the Middletown-Poughkeepsie-Newburgh center of activity.

As such, a large number of DIY-type “hole in the wall” venues have sprung up throughout the area. Here’s a few of the most beloved of those venues and some of the acts they’ve seen take the stage, both past and present.

The Chance/The Loft

Located in Poughkeepsie… essentially the Master Blaster of venues, you have much bigger venue, The Chance, where bands like Soundgarden, Guns N’ Roses, Alice in Chains, and Bon Jovi played while trying to break it big, while The Loft is a much smaller space sitting comfortably on The Chance’s shoulders, accessible via staircase. The Chance/Loft is one of the only remaining venues in the general area to book major touring acts. You can check out Soundgarden’s set from 1990 at The Chance above.

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Left: The usual haunts. Right: The Venetia Fair play Sounds Asylum.

Sounds Asylum/The Skyline

Out of Middletown, New York was one of the most beloved musical venues in the area. Located across the street from a church and near several businesses, the venue proved controversial for its loud concerts which were customarily interrupted by the police.

Says founder Rob “Ruckus”, “Sounds Asylum served it’s purpose over the course of its run. It was meant to bring together the music community and bring the feeling of acceptance and belonging that I got when I was first went to a local show to everyone who entered. It was never about the money, it was about the music and the fans. This was OUR home. I’ll be continuing this effort at Motorcyclepedia Museum by organizing free events for the music community every couple months.”

The venue has since been re-purposed under new ownership as The Skyline, though that has also been shut down.

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Los Huevos bring their brand of awkward garage rock to the Tuscan Cafe.

Tuscan Cafe

Located right on the New Jersey border in Warwick, NY, the Tuscan Cafe is a great little punk rock cafe. Highlights include open mic every Thursday night and the occasional touring act, such as Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stevor’s Davenport Cabinet. Stevor’s wife runs a bakery just down the street from the Tuscan. Commonly seen at open mic nights are Cloud District, Los Huevos, and New Jersey’s Killin It’.

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Elephant Graveyard, a repurposed barn.

The Elephant Graveyard

The Elephant Graveyard is a small venue in the loft of a barn in Chester, run by Jay from the local band Common Folk, for local independent musicians on a donation based admission. The close quarters encourages intimacy and interactivity between the musicians and the crowds of up to 80 people.

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The Alter

The Alter is a recently closed venue in the basement of what looks to be a normal house in New Paltz. Its dark and gloomy atmosphere has made it a popular spot for both local noise and punk bands like BILLxNYE and touring bands like the black metal band Yellow Eyes. You can check out an infodump of every artist who played at The Alter here.

Snug Harbor Bar & Grill

A bar in New Paltz known for its constant metal and punk shows booked by “Crazy” Dan, drummer for Minotaur’s Redemption. Such shows usually fall on Tuesdays from 10 PM to 2 AM.