Residents of buildings in the Back Bay and Fort Point say they realize they live in the city and that means a certain level of sound - that's why they've bought white-noise machines. But the devices have proved no match for a nine-piece band in one case, and throbbing bass in another, the residents told city licensing head Christine Pulgini today.
In both the case of Earl's in the Prudential Center, and Bastille Kitchen, at 49 Melcher St., the residents had the support of police, whose licensing detectives say their sound monitors confirmed what the residents said: The music was too damn loud.
At issue in the Earl's case was mainly a nine-piece band a customer who'd rented the outdoor patio brought along for a Dec. 14 event.
Tobias Schroeder, who lives 14 floors up at 790 Boylston St., said the three white-noise machines he and his wife have proved no match for the music. It was, he told city licensing head Christine Pulgini, like "having a live band playing in my living room."
Michael Buckley, who lives on the 9th floor of the Mandarin Oriental building, agreed - he and his wife actually called police twice that night - overcoming their reluctance to dial 911 over something like loud music.
Both residents testified this was not the first time they'd complained about music from the patio, just the first time their complaints resulted in police citations.
Earl's managers apologized, saying the live music was a surprise to them - they had booked the patio, which has a canvas covering, for a 400-person event, but said they didn't know the group was going to bring in a live band. And when somebody shows up with a check for $45,000 and a band and 400 people on the way, well, you know how it is, they said.
Still, in front of an audience that included not only residents, but the two lawyers they've hired, Earl's says it is rewriting all its contracts to keep that from happening again. Earl's and the residents agreed to try to work together to figure out a way that Earl's can still satisfy customers who insist on at least background music as a background salve during events on the patio and neighbors who don't want to become part of any performances they haven't paid for.
Meanwhile, over in Fort Point, managers at Bastille Kitchen, 49 Melcher St., say they're doing their best to assuage residents of the apartments above them in the historic converted warehouse building, short of actually permanently reducing the bass on their speakers.
One manager showed off the new, half-inch-thick plastic panels Bastille has installed over all its windows to cut the noise ceiling soundproofing failed to keep out of the rest of the building.
A second-floor resident - who reports both a white-noise machine and headphones fail to fully staunch the base - said her neighbor have moved out because of the noise.
Both the resident and Bastille said the real problem may be that the company that owns and rents out space in the building has so far refused to take recommended steps to further dampen the noise, which would involve sealing up certain spaces in residents' laundry rooms and bathrooms.
A Bastille sound engineer said he visited the resident's apartment and confirmed that the gap is bad enough that if somebody simply laughed under it in the restaurant, the resident could hear it.