It’s barely 7:30 on a Friday night and the room is already packed with leather-clad Brooklynites. The stage is cloaked in blue light and the drinks are flowing. People are dressed to the nines in their scariest outfits––chains, spider jewelry, and an excess of eyeliner.
It’s Horror Night at Elsewhere, evident as we step out of the cold New York air and into a tunnel that bathes us in red light as we check in.
What Is NYC’s Elsewhere?
Elsewhere has a unique reputation, not only as one of the coolest live music venues in Brooklyn, but also as a home to techno fanatics, goths, and anybody who wants to dress up and dance until morning. From the inclusive messaging to the stellar lineup of experimental music, the club represents the progressive underworld of New York music. In one corner of the room, there’s a guy with a bright blue mohawk that stands easily stands a foot tall. In another, a group of girls with eyeliner-drawn teardrops on either cheek.
Tonight is clearly a night to show up and stand out.
Who Is Ic3peak?
The headliner, Ic3peak, is no different.
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Described by one attendee as “experimental Russian hyperpop”, there’s a buzz of excitement in the air. Ic3peak––a duo composed of Anastasia Kreslina and Nikolay Kostilev––is most known for their haunting electronic sound and their critiques of the Russian government. After the group rose to notoriety in Russia, they found themselves consistently targeted by the government. Chased out of clubs and confronted with trumped-up charges, Ic3peak is about as counter-culture as they come.
By 8:30, the crowd is clinging to the guardrail. People dance, humming the tune to Kiss of Death as the anticipation builds. Finally, a startling bass soothes the crowd into silence. After a beat, Nikolay saunters on stage. His ghostly complexion paired with tufts of red hair make him almost otherworldly. He towers behind his synthesizer, glowering at the cheering crowd. As he lays down a beat, Anastasia Kreslina glides on stage. Somewhere between a doll and an alien, Anastasia carries a similarly unearthly presence.
The two work in perfect harmony, Kreslina’s angelic voice echoing throughout the tightly packed venue while Kostilev switches between a synth, electric guitar, and drums. The set ventures from quiet, haunting ballads to headbanging dance music that reverberates through the space. Some of the crowd favorites included the rousing Dead But Pretty and Vampir.
Though Elsewhere is about as New York as it comes, most of the crowd is fluent in Russian (or Ic3peak lyrics, at the very least). In the middle of the show, the duo steps aside for a touching moment of solidarity with Ukraine. The energy from the performers and crowd makes it feel like a house show for the cool kids in the neighborhood. There’s a comradery that feels very distinctly Ic3peak.
By the end of the night, the crowd begs for an encore. People are panting, sweating, and ringing out sore feet. Voices are hoarse from screaming, necks are craning from headbanging––the signs of a truly excellent evening. Ic3peak returns to the stage after a few minutes and the energy is up to 11 in an instant. Fans give it their all for an additional two songs.
Even after the smoke has cleared and Ic3peak has taken their final bows, the night isn’t quite over for most guests. People unwind, wiping smeared makeup from their cheeks and ordering tacos from nearby food trucks. Swarms of Doc Marten-clad music lovers crowd the subway platforms, raving about the highlights from the night. For most, the show is more than live music. That night at Elsewhere was a night of community building, political revolution, and, of course, Russian dance music.