It's After 5, time to shake up Hub City's music scene
Two generations ago, in the early days of the New Brunswick music scene, there was The After 5 nightclub near to where today’s Public Safety Building is, on Commercial Avenue. Today, the memory of that alternative space is being revived through a series of live shows performed in local New Brunswick businesses named in its honor, After 5.
After 5 co-founders Derrick Braxton and Breon Scott, grandsons of the original The After 5 owners, are well-versed in the New Brunswick music scene and came up with the idea to create a showcase series for musicians that don’t fit the existing paradigm of basement show music.
“We were tired of hearing the same music at the places we were going to,” Braxton said. “The New Brunswick basement show scene is really dope, but it’s set up for punk-rock music only … (We thought) we should do a DJ and producer collective for all the people that can’t play in the basement shows.”
Braxton and Scott also teamed up with fellow co-founders Isabella Sehringer and Aman Arora and prepared to take on the standards of local music.
All in an attempt to diversify the sounds of the city, After 5 formed about a month ago with the purpose of creating spaces in New Brunswick that are welcoming to both the existing music scene fans and city residents, Braxton said.
“What better (way to do so) than to start a DJ and producer collective in the memory of our grandfathers and The After 5?” Braxton asked.
A local music producer and two-time Grammy winner, Braxton has been drumming up diversity in the New Brunswick music scene since before After 5 when he moved back to Hub City and started running a recording studio from his home.
Anyone who makes music is invited to come in and record. So far he has recorded music for Foxanne and Red Giant among others, and Braxton is always actively looking to bring more new artists into the music scene.
“It’s After 5, (so) if anybody wants to make music or do anything artistic, and we can help in any way possible, we will,” he said.
Equally as important to the music is utilizing all of New Brunswick when picking performance spaces. After 5 showcases can happen anywhere at any time and everyone is welcome, so it is a priority of the organizers to consider the accessibility of every venue.
After 5 videographer Sehringer, founder of the video series “Hub City Scenes,” believes music is the universal language and can be used by After 5 now to meld Rutgers University students and New Brunswick residents.
“I find that often times people see Rutgers the institute, and New Brunswick as two separate communities. And I really want to change that perspective. I want there to be a bridge between the two,” Sehringer said, who is also a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
After 5 plans on going beyond the typical spaces for underground music, like basements and Rutgers-sponsored spaces, and taking advantage of other spaces in Hub City.
The effort will expose more Rutgers students to other parts of New Brunswick and will potentially inspire younger residents to create their own music after attending After 5 showcases, Braxton said.
“The first one, you get them comfortable at Hidden Grounds,” Braxton said of last weekend’s opening show. “Then you use Hub City Soles, a little bit further into town. Then you hit the laundry mat, (and) then you hit the bodegas.”
After 5 was born out of a desire to expand upon the types of music being played in New Brunswick, but Braxton admits that the basement show music scene is beginning to adapt to bands outside of the pop-punk genre, and more basements are hosting shows with different genres of music.
“It’s changing now though,” Braxton said. “John (Colaiacovo III) is doing some really, really cool jazz stuff and electronic shows and hip-hop shows. There’s more of an attempt (to diversify) now."
After 5 is actively driving that change with its purposeful showcases across Hub City. With the support of both residents and students, a new artistic wave is reaching the shores of the Banks.
“Every artistic collective that you see starts with a group of people being on the same page. And these humans,” Braxton said gesturing to his collective of organizers, producers and DJs, “We’re all on the same page.”