A vital music doc that is part eulogy, part concert film and part "f*ck The Man" treatise on individuality in the face of corporate gentrification.

Scenes don’t magically appear. They’re born out of the sweat, blood, tears and consumed beer of those who simply want to rub elbows with others who share similar artistic tendencies and desire a setting in which they can both create and explore each other’s work. For Goodnight Brooklyn director Matt Conboy – who was also one of the founding members of the DIY music space his picture acts as a love letter to – Death By Audio was something of a dream scene. It was a cave to be painted; moldy concrete and plaster ready to be shaped by Conboy and his cohorts’ wildest desires.

An abandoned building in Williamsburg that Conboy – along with Oliver Ackermann (of a A Place to Bury Strangers fame) and Edan Wilber – was able to convert into a full service venue that showcased multiple up-and-coming artists (including current dance rock stalwarts Future Islands, who are prominently featured), Death By Audio acted as a refuge for any simply looking to lose themselves in art amongst likeminded individuals. Sadly, this act of empowering construction would be bulldozed in ironic fashion by a media corporation (VICE) who claims to subscribe to a similar rock and roll ethos. Part concert film, part melancholy panegyric, part “Fuck The Man” middle finger to commercial gentrification, Conboy’s film is rousing and droll, if somewhat formless in its final stretch.

For the uninitiated (who, if we’re being completely honest, are going to more than likely feel left out in the cold due to the document’s niche nature), Death By Audio started as a guitar effects pedal “factory”. Each piece of equipment was handcrafted by the misfits who called this dilapidated hellhole home. Yet they quickly realized that the drafty concrete cave could literally become whatever they wanted it to be. In order to fund construction, Conboy and Co. began throwing ragers, all the while living under threat of surprise code inspections and police raids. Thankfully, the trio (and subsequent collaborators) skated by and ended up becoming a Brooklyn institution, their wild antics attracting media attention from the likes of New Yorker magazine.

This early “genesis” segment of the film is easily its strongest, as the cocksure “just get it done” attitude Conboy, Ackermann and Wilber exude is incredibly infectious. We’re watching people write their own rules and become respected while doing so. For anyone who ever picked up a brush, pen or guitar and tried to make fire using those tools, Goodnight Brooklyn transforms into an affable reminder that you can do anything you want if you just get off your ass and start living instead of wishing. Watching artists like Dan Deacon, Ty Segall and TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone wax nostalgic about the space’s earliest days reinforces just how significant DBA’s impact was on the Williamsburg music scene as a whole. This wasn’t just some warehouse where kids could come and spazz out for an evening, leaving their troubles in the streets (though a significant amount of that did take place). It was also a launch platform; a regular haunt for creatives just trying to make a name for themselves the only way they knew how.

Goodnight Brooklyn remains relatively conflict free until the building’s upper floors are invaded by VICE Media – former Canadian punk rag turned billion dollar global corporation. Little by little, VICE begins to force the artists out of their home, to the point that the founders willingly opt to leave, as long as it’s on their rather modest terms. But VICE’s construction team continues plowing on, cracking water mains and ruining the peaceful cultural hub in the process. It’s a rather sad end to a storied body meant to celebrate what the giant now subjugated for crass profit. Much of this portion is funny in a generic “snobs vs. slobs” fashion (think Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind with a tangible music venue instead of a fictional video store), but is mostly a reminder of the tragedy that comes along with genuine gentrification. Some will argue that the very existence of DBA is white redevelopment run amuck (and the doc briefly touches on that), but VICE becomes an avatar for invasive exploitation, not caring what landmarks they displace as long as their bottom line sees a bump.

Conboy’s doc loses its way a bit during the final stretch, becoming entirely too loose as it eulogizes the last days of DBA. A gorgeously photographed black and white expanse of slow motion revelry (all set to Liars’ woozy electronica) begins as an amazing concept, but seems to go on forever, lessening the impact of the triumphant visuals. However, these momentary inconsistencies in elegance are more than made up for by the passion poured into this amorous cinematic dedication. What we’re witnessing is a document regarding the death of culture at the hands of a faceless titan, indiscriminately striking down that which it should be championing. In every great city, there should be a space like Death By Audio, welcoming its dreamers with wide arms and the stench of cheap booze. We need these makeshift arenas in order to foster anarchy in the face of reckless disregard for individuality. When it comes to spreading that message, Goodnight Brooklyn is essential; vital even.