New York City’s iconic reputation didn’t happen by accident; the musical history packed into its famed borders has helped NYC garner an unmatched reputation in the industry. As this unique musicality has developed throughout the boroughs, artists have needed a place to deliver the fruits of their labor to the eagerly awaiting masses—and the city had delivered. Packing as much character as their patrons, these five music venues are must-visit places to see live music in NYC.
© Brooklyn Bowl
Though it’s called Brooklyn Bowl, the bowling is just something to get your juices flowing for when the big guns come out – and come they do. Described as ‘genre-defying’, this unusual venue has a life of its own. With a perfectly over-sized open space to compliment the ingratiatingly illuminated bowling lanes, the venue is designed as an acoustic Eden, with the sound system providing the perfect octave of musical bliss. Boasting two impressive bars, the countless local brew and cheap eats make any show-going adventure at BB close to complete. A Brooklyn icon, this Williamsburg hub really is a must, and if you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to attend a DJ-based dance rave hosted by none other than Roots front man ?uestlove.
Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 953 3369
Courtesy of Webster Hall
Though sometimes known as a decadent host to acoustic performances, Webster Hall, this venue-gone-club, is uniquely designed to be a seemingly never ending riddle of musical ecstasy. The spot spans four stories and the massive square footage could not be allocated in a more ingenious way, forcing the patrons to wiggle and waggle between the varying rooms, experiencing ever changing decors matched gloriously with electrifying ambiances and constantly varying DJ’s. If you are looking for any kind of music scene, this mammoth sized pseudo-arena is the way to go. This ‘web’ of music perfection has something for everyone and isn’t afraid to gloat.
Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 353 1600
Childish Gambino Performing at Bowery Ballrom | © MemphistoPuck/WikiCommons
The Bowery Ballroom has set up shop as one of New York City’s go-to music venues. This ritzy bar, bursting at the seams with top shelf alcohol, shares partial responsibility for why the Ballroom holds such allure in the eyes of Downtown New York. The other guilty party is the downstairs refuge that music buffs can escape to in case they want a quieter experience. Add to that the intimate yet berserk post-show haven that the back room of the Ballroom has become for performers and patrons alike, and you have yourself an all-purpose hall, where top talents consequently fight to perform. Most New Yorkers have been to the Bowery Ballroom at least once, so it’s no secret that this venue is sitting pretty atop NYC’s musical pyramid.
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 533 2111
Radio City | © Ed Shipul/Flickr
Radio City Music Hall
Characterized by its electric vertical sign, Radio City Music Hall is just a famous name to most. In truth however, the New York City landmark came to fruition when rock star billionaire John D. Rockefeller and the Radio Corporation of America teamed up in order to revitalize one of NYC’s undervalued neighborhoods. Since then, nearly half a billion people have walked through its doors and its most famous performance, the-sold-out-every-year Christmas Spectacular starring the provocative and beautiful Rockettes, has catapulted this gargantuan venue into musical history. In all honesty, New York City wouldn’t be able to brag about its music venues, if RCMH didn’t exist – how else would Elton John, The Gypsy Kings, and Kanye West have anything in common?
Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, USA +1212 465 6741
The Entrance at Mercury Lounge | © TeamDustizeff/WikiCommons
The Mercury Lounge is hipster heaven, attracting skinny jean and sockless dress shoe wearers from all over the city. Like most of the venues on the list, the Mercury Lounge features a separate room for those wild partiers who want to chill on a night out. Perhaps the most endearing part about the Mercury Lounge however, is the number of mega artists who have leapfrogged to stardom thanks to its existence. Apart from operating Terminal 5 as well, the Mercury Lounge itself is just another proper must-visit that New York City is hiding, a gem of a theatre where fans and musicians alike pay their dues before moving on and hopefully not selling out. Visitors be advised, the venue is 21 and over to enter, credit cards only at the bar, and cash at the door.
Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 640 4700