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An Insider’s Guide to NYC’s Live Music Scene

March 24, 2016 Destination North America No Comments Print Print Email Email

Jazz Standard, Flatiron District, Manhattan

New York City is best know for iconic live music destinations like the Apollo Theater, Barclays Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.  So why not experience live music in New York City from some of the City’s lesser known venues with this list of the City’s under-the-radar music venues.

The City’s five boroughs are home to a collection of intimate venues that showcase top-notch talent and cater to music lovers of all ages and musical tastes.

For a calendar of upcoming concerts in New York City, visit nycgo.com/concerts. Highlights include:


Lehman Center for the Performing Arts: The premier Bronx performing arts venue, home to The Bronx Opera Company and many local ensembles, epitomizes world-class entertainment and live music for its concert series and diverse music offerings. Past events at the center have included a Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay concert and the Bollywood Masala Orchestra. The Center’s spring 2016 lineup will include performances from American hip-hop singing group Dru Hill with Jon B and Kenny Lattimore (March 26), and salsa star Oscar D’León (May 7). For the full list of upcoming events and to purchase tickets, visit lehmancenter.org.


The Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk: Set to open in July 2016, the 5,000-seat arena will be host to a full summer series of live music, comedy shows and family entertainment, organized by entertainment company Live Nation. The venue will also take over hosting the annual free Seaside Summer Concert Series held in Coney Island. The stage will serve as an outdoor venue during the summer months and then as an indoor entertainment space in the winter. For more information, visit coneyisland.com.

Bargemusic: Moored at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, the former coffee barge turned music hall presents over 200 chamber music concerts year-round and spectacular views of Lower Manhattan. Among Bargemusic’s popular programming are the Music in Motion Neighborhood Family Concerts, free one-hour recitals where kids can listen to chamber music and interact with classical musicians. Visit bargemusic.org for more information.

The Bell House: A 1920’s warehouse turned bar and concert venue with dark wood trimmings, chandeliers, and an old-fashioned stage with red velvet curtains, The Bell House has been known to host the City’s most talented indie acts. Visit thebellhouseny.com for more information.

Bowery Ballroom, Lower East Side, Manhatttan

Bowery Ballroom, Lower East Side, Manhatttan

Brooklyn Bowl: The Williamsburg bowling alley and music hall is a popular nightlife hangout. Locals flock to the venue to listen to top-flight live music, bowl and chow down on tasty appetizers fried chicken, French bread pizza and BBQ wings. Brooklyn Bowl’s full performance schedule and ticket information is available at brooklynbowl.com.

Kings Theatre: After undergoing a $95 million renovation, the historic theater reopened in 2015. The renovation, which included an authentic restoration of the original 1929 design, has returned the Kings Theatre to its status as one of the more prominent live music, entertainment and performing arts venues in New York City for both large-scale popular entertainment and local arts groups. For additional information, visit kingstheatre.com.

Music Hall of Williamsburg: With a reputation for organizing a lineup of top-notch artists, the Music Hall of Williamsburg has solidified itself as one of Brooklyn’s music hot-spots. The music hall’s jam-packed performance schedule makes it a great place to grab a drink and enjoy live music anytime. Featuring up-and-coming bands, concert-goers might witness the next breakout music sensation. For a list of upcoming performances and ticket reservations, visit musichallofwilliamsburg.com.

Pete’s Candy Store: Pete’s Candy Store has played a vital role in New York City’s music scene, serving as a springboard for aspiring musicians. The Brooklyn-based tavern is known for booking mostly unknown and unsigned bands, many of whom have gone on to receive greater recognition. Among its popular live music programming is an open mic night every Sunday from 5–8 pm. Visit petescandystore.com for more information.

Union Pool: Another bar and music venue attracting a vivacious crowd, Union Pool is an ideal spot to enjoy a night of live music and dancing in Williamsburg. Visitors and locals continuously flock to the bar to listen to some of the area’s most talented artists. For the recently announced list of scheduled performers and to purchase tickets, visit union-pool.com.

CMJ Music Marathon 2012Cake Shop12:00pm Vockah Redu12:00pm Dent May12:00pm Delicate Steve7:00pm Old Monk7:45pm My Dear Mycroft8:30pm Magmana9:15pm Opossom10:00pm Gracie10:45pm Francisco the Man11:30pm Field Mouse12:15am Murals1:00am Night Panther2:00am Lemonade (DJ Set)


The Beacon Theatre: One of New York City’s most dynamic live music and entertainment venues, The Beacon Theatre showcases R&B, pop and rock concerts. Vance Joy (March 29–30) and Tori Kelly (April 28–29) headline the spring lineup. Visit beacontheatre.com to view the list of upcoming performances.

Blue Note Jazz Club: The iconic club located in Greenwich Village is internationally renowned for its long history as a place of preservation and innovation for jazz. Since 1981, the club has hosted some of the world’s most famed musicians and continues to entertain its audiences with performances by jazz legends and emerging artists. Among the club’s more notable events are its bi-weekly Late Night Groove Series and Monday Night Series, showcasing New York City artists in jazz, soul, hip-hop, R&B and funk. For more information, including the Blue Note’s featured programs, visit bluenote.net.

Bowery Ballroom: With three floors and an extensive lineup of music, there’s plenty of time and space to enjoy the Bowery Ballroom on the Lower East Side. An array of budding musicians and bands take the stage each night representing genres in rock, funk, electric R&B and pop. To view the Bowery Ballroom’s calendar, visit boweryballroom.com.

Cleopatra’s Needle: Cleopatra’s Needle is an Upper West Side hotspot for jazz enthusiasts. The jazz club restaurant hosts a selection of weekly live music performances and events, headlined by its Open Mic and Late Night Jam Session. Visitcleopatrasneedleny.com for more information.

The Cutting Room: One of the City’s most prestigious live music venues, The Cutting Room features performances from rock icons and up-and-coming singer/songwriter acts. The Cutting Room has hosted musicians like Ronnie Wood, Mick Taylor, Sting, John Legend and Lady Gaga, who signed a record deal after her performance at the venue in 2006. Browse upcoming shows and purchase tickets at thecuttingroomnyc.com.

Gin Fizz Harlem: The music venue, cocktail bar and lounge is reminiscent of a 1930s and 40s speakeasy, paying homage to the early days of jazz in Harlem. Live music is offered every Wednesday through Saturday. The venue’s signature program, The Harlem Sessions, features performers honoring Harlem music legends. For more information, visit ginfizzharlem.com.

Gramercy Theatre: Live Nation’s Gramercy Theatre features a diverse selection of music artists, evidenced by past performers Andy Grammer, Plain White T’s, Hollywood Undead, Meek Mill, Travis Scott and The Veronicas. Ready to take the stage in 2016 are We the Kings (March 24), Kris Allen (April 18) and The Summer Set (May 27). For more information, visit livenation.com/gramercytheatre.

Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center: Located in the Manhattan Center in Midtown, Hammerstein Ballroom is celebrated for its elegant design and production technology. The mid-size venue has a rich history of showcasing some of the world’s biggest music stars, including All Time Low, David Bowie, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue, Paramore and Thirty Seconds to Mars. On April 2, French musician St. Germain will take the ballroom’s stage. For more information, visitmcstudios.com.

Highline Ballroom: The trendy Highline Chelsea ballroom presents a diverse slate of live music performances in genres ranging from R&B, metal and rock to pop, jazz and blues. For the spring lineup and to purchase tickets visithighlineballroom.com.

Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater: Located in the world-famous Public Theater, Joe’s Pub presents an extensive lineup of nightly live music. The venue supports young artists while also providing established musicians with an intimate space to entertain concert goers. Artists who have performed at Joe’s Pub include Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jason Mraz and Lady Gaga. To view the schedule of upcoming performances at Joe’s Pub and to purchase tickets, visit publictheater.org.

Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center: Located on the Upper West Side, the Merkin Concert Hall has garnered high accolades such as the ASCAP/Chamber Music Award for its adventurous and innovative programming and concert series. Merkin holds world premieres from contemporary composers, in addition to concerts from some of today’s most acclaimed classical performers. The music hall’s concert series, which includes Tuesday Matinees, the New York Guitar Festival, the New York Festival of Song and New Sounds Live, runs from September through June. The complete Merkin Concert Hall music events calendar can be accessed at kaufmanmusiccenter.org.
Metropolitan Room: The internationally acclaimed cabaret and jazz club bordering Flatiron and Chelsea features top-of-the-line acoustics and live music performances every night of the week. The 115 seat venue provides an intimate setting to enjoy performances from a mixture of established and emerging artists. Visit metropolitanroom.com for the performance schedule.

PlayStation Theater: Formerly known as the Best Buy Theater, the 2,100-capacity PlayStation Theater hosts live concerts featuring performances by music artists from around the globe. On March 24, indie-pop artist Melanie Martinez will stop by the Times Square location to perform. For more upcoming music events, visitplaystationtheater.com.

Rockwood Music Hall: Known for showcasing local and undiscovered talent, with an emphasis on singer/songwriter acts, Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side is a great place to enjoy a drink and hear original works by new artists. Admission is free and three stages accommodate the variety of engaging performances. Visit rockwoodmusichall.com for the venue’s full performance schedule.

Silvana: A hip Harlem café and bar, Silvana is a hidden gem in New York City’s music scene that has created a reputation for its live music lineup with a local and international flare in addition to its Middle Eastern eats such as shawarma and falafel. For more information, visit silvana-nyc.com.

Smalls Jazz Club: The legendary club showcases rising talents in the New York City jazz scene. Groups like The Ari Hoenig Trio, The Justin Mullens Octet and The Ken Fowser Quintet will take the stage this March. Visitsmallslive.com for the club’s live performance schedule.

Webster Hall: Known to many as the popular Lower East Side nightclub drawing thousands of party goers each weekend, Webster Hall is also host to album release shows and live music concerts on its three performance stages. During the spring, Hoodie Allen (March 22) and Charlie Puth (April 7), some of the hottest names in today’s music landscape, will perform. More information can be found at websterhall.com.

Citi Field: Home to the New York Mets Baseball team, Citi Field ballpark occasionally features some of the world’s biggest stars. Fresh off her appearance at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime show, Beyoncé is scheduled to make her Citi Field debut with concerts on June 7 and 8. For more information, visit citifield.com.

Forest Hills Stadium: Built in 1923 as the home to the US Open Tennis Tournament, Forest Hills Stadium has been host to music greats as well as tennis champions. Barbra Streisand, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Simon & Garfunkel all performed on stage at the stadium during the 1960s and 70s. After the US Open was relocated to Flushing Meadows and a near 20-year hiatus as a music venue, Forest Hills Stadium re-opened in 2013 and has entertained audiences with big-time names such as D’Angelo, Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, The Who and Zac Brown Band. The venue recently announced the lineup for its annual summer series, with Mumford & Sons kicking off the action on June 16 followed by Bob Dylan on July 8. For more information, visit foresthillsstadium.com.

Queens Theatre: Located just steps from the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Queens Theatre is a leading destination for live music in New York City. In its three performance spaces, Queens Theatre presents more than 200 theater, dance, concert and cultural programs a year. For more information, visit queenstheatre.org.

Terraza 7: The Jackson Heights live music venue and community center serves as a cultural hub for promoting a myriad of musical genres, including bolero, Caribbean, Cuban, Indian, Colombian and Brazilian. Performances range from local hip-hop groups to cover bands and touring world music groups. The venue also offers interactive musical workshops and individual lessons. Visit terraza7.com for more information.

Staten Island

Bayou Restaurant: Bayou is the perfect spot for visitors and locals to get their New Orleans fill. In addition to Cajun-style food, Bayou often features live performances by jazz, blues and rock musicians. Fat Tuesdays, Jazzy Wednesday and Sunday Jazz Brunch are among the restaurant’s premier music events. Visit bayounyc.com to learn more.

Music Hall at Snug Harbor: Part of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, the Music Hall at Snug Harbor is the second oldest music hall in the five boroughs. The venue hosts events in theater and live music. Among the musicians who have performed here are British pop band The xx and nine-time Grammy Award winner Norah Jones. For more information, visit snug-harbor.org.

St. George Theatre: This majestic theater located steps from the ferry showcases national tours and music concerts. Notable upcoming performances at the theater will include the legendary Diana Ross on April 12 and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band on June 15. The full performance schedule can be viewed at stgeorgetheatre.com.

“New York City has always been the world’s stage but it’s never more true than today, with the city attracting today’s hottest performers as well as the best in emerging artists from around the world” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “From a rocking night out, to a relaxed, classical or kid-friendly concert, the five boroughs are home to a vast array of famous and off-the-beaten path venues offering live music for every taste and generation.”

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