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The Barclays Center as giant neighborhood sub-woofer: the rumble from Jay-Z concert continues, but 311 proves highly ineffective

Over the past several nights, during certain songs, the bass rumbles out from the Jay-Z concerts at the Barclays Center such that you can feel it on the streets and even inside apartments on adjacent blocks. The arena thus serves as a giant neighborhood sub-woofer, or a low-level volcano.

Everybody knows. The arena staffers working outside, the cops on the beat, the security guys at the nearby parking garage--they all, with a knowing wink, can identify the concert leakage.

So too do neighbors posting incident reports on Atlantic Yards Watch and contacting 311, which, as the screenshots below show, proves highly ineffective.

Operators apparently convey reports to the police who dutifully examine what is classified as "Loud Music/Party" or even "Loud Talking" (!) and, when the concert is over, determine "No evidence of the violation... police action not necessary." (Note the comment below that explains that the police don't have the equipment to address the issue.)

I spent some time yesterday in an apartment on Dean Street west of the arena, while others reported back east of the arena. The rumble is impossible to capture with my basic video recorder--more sophisticated sound equipment is necessary--but it was palpable.

Official query

I contacted representatives of Forest City Ratner and the arena operator. No answer. Ditto for the mayor's press office and Lolita Jackson, the official in charge of the "Day Two" Task Force, which is supposed to monitor arena impacts.

I did get a response from Empire State Development (ESD) the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, and the nominal arena owner. "The [city] DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] is involved and aware of this concern," responded Cassie Harvey, ESD Director of Public Affairs. "We will continue to monitor this issue and get back to you as more information becomes available." (The DEP should have the equipment to measure the impact.)

However, Jay-Z's final concerts are tonight and tomorrow. I'd bet nothing changes. After all, who has the power to tell Jay-Z to turn down the bass?

What next?

Turns out Jay-Z will be live-streaming his final concert, tomorrow night, on his YouTube channel. Some in the neighborhood, apparently, will be able to view it in a local version of Sensurround.

Other upcoming concerts won't necessarily pose the same volume profile, but I suspect that the Sensation electronica event Oct. 26-27 and the Nov. 2 Caribbean Fever will be bass-heavy--though the latter will be in the "Cushman & Wakefield Theater" version of the arena and thus have a smaller audience.

Also, the penetration of bass has to be a question for the designers and future residents of the buildings adjacent to the arena.

Incident reports

No 311 report associated with this one

The concert was over by then.


  1. The police do not have the equipment needed to measure in octave bands - only DEP or a private expert can take the kinds of measurements provided for under the law for commercial music.

    By the way, isn't Barclays Center nominally owned by NYC? If so, the responsible party is the landlord.

    G Locker

  2. Anonymous11:55 AM

    no its n0t owned by the city. Its nominally owned by NY State.

    1. Both NYS and its Ratner leasee are obligated to abate the unlawful sound levels, Ratner by turning down the volume and/or by sound-insulating, NYS by demanding that its Ratner leasee cease creating a neighborhood nuisance.


  3. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Why would you expect them to start caring about the neighborhood now?

    Anyway, on the plus side, Jay Z is probably the loudest, bassiest act we'll see here for a while.

  4. Anonymous3:29 PM

    Is the sound being conveyed more thru the ground than thru the air as the arena is partially below ground level?

    1. That's certainly reasonable speculation. I've heard it from a couple of people.


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