tonic tapes

In April of 2007, the historic NYC music venue Tonic closed.

Located at 107 Norfolk Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Tonic was a unique place where you would go to listen to what would often turn out to be equally unique music.

As many other cherished spaces around the city, after 9 years of operation Tonic succumbed to the changes then ripping through the LES.

I attended two shows at Tonic on that final week back in 2007. On the second night, I asked the lady at the ticket booth about a beer carton containing +50 demo tapes that was lying on the floor, looking as if it might soon be discarded. I could have them if I wanted them, I was told.

After 11 years decaying, these tapes — submitted by bands who wanted to play at Tonic and whose fates since then seem to be as diverse as their music — have now been digitized and you can listen to them by clicking on the images you find on this page. I attempted some cleaning of the audio, but even after that they are by now mainly historical artifacts from one decade ago.

An effort was made to contact all bands to secure their permission but that was not possible in all cases. Also, I would be happy to donate the tapes to any individual or organization who will preserve them and make them publicly available. For all inquiries, contact To be notified of future updates, email

- Manuel Arriaga (Dec 2018)