August 8, 2022

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ALBANY — The Fuze Box, the next iteration of a beloved bar and music venue...

ALBANY — The Fuze Box, the next iteration of a beloved bar and music venue for the past 35 years, reopened Thursday after stumbling through regulatory hurdles with the State Liquor Authority.
William “Tragedy” Yager, a serial entrepreneur whose Albany businesses include a barber shop, tattoo parlors, a laundromat and The Bull and Bee meadery, bought the Fuze Box earlier this year from owners who were ready to relinquish it after running the place, at 12 Central Ave., for 21 years. Prior to that, the building, once a White Tower hamburger joint, was the legendary punk club QE2 from 1986 to 1999.

Yager was a QE2 regular, as customer and employee, in his youth, and he helped launch Fuze Box in 1999. In September, when he initially announced plans for his version of Fuze Box, affectionately dubbed by some as QE3, Yager said his intent was to turn it once again into a haven for the underground music scene and marginalized populations. That identity, he said this week, has been refined into a subtitle that also serves as a mission statement: Albany’s Counter Cultural Community Center.

Because its license is connected to Bull and Bee, of which it is officially considered by the SLA as a “branch office,” all alcoholic beverages carried by Fuze Box must be made in New York. Yager said he is emphasizing local and regional manufacturers when possible, including from Albany Distilling Co. in Albany, Helderberg Meadworks in Esperance and Crossroads Brewing Co. in Athens.

“We’re not a fancy cocktail bar,” Yager said. “We’re a place to get a drink with New York products and hear some music.”
Acts booked for Thursday’s opening-night show were Tossed Aside, a New Hamshpire band that describes its music as “powerviolence,” the Connecticut hardcore-punk group Zipper and the local DBMBAB, which works in the noisecore/grindcore subgenre of punk. Upcoming gigs include a DJ group called Resist with its Sinister Solstice Soiree on Friday, and, on Saturday, a big punk bill by the likes of Necrotic Society, Wet Specimens, Leaking Heads, Human Ignorance and Schenectavoidz.

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“It won’t be all punk and hardcore,” said Yager. “I want to have everything, from that stuff to (electronic dance music) to country-western and drag shows.” He said he also wants a local focus with bands, though his staff has convinced him not to be exclusive about it, because opening for known regional or national acts will get better exposure for local bands than if they headlined at Fuze Box or otherwise played there on an all-local bill.

In its first weeks, Fuze Box will be open from 5 p.m. until late, Tuesday through Saturday, on a cash-only basis (ATM on site). Cards will be accepted by New Year’s Eve, Yager said. Street parking is available, and the Albany County-owned lot across the street is free after 5 p.m. weekdays and all weekend.


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