Where the Live Beats Are: NYC's Best Live Music Venues

Where the Live Beats Are: NYC's Best Live Music Venues

by Luiza Oleszczuk
06.06.2011


If you are to pay that cover charge (and hey, $5 is a beer), you might want to make sure that you get the quality performance for your buck. Clubplanet chose ten best New York City live music venues with prime equipment, roster and/or mood.


#10 NYC Best Live Music Venue
S.O.B.’s
204 Varick St.
New York, NY 10014
 

S.O.B.’s is a veteran of the New York City live music scene. It has been rocking Varick Street for over 25 years now. How much is that in club years? 100? Still, there’s no sign of cracking down, even if that joint saw Michael Jackson before all the silicon… and other changes. Offering the best live music space since June 1982, it features two well-supplied bars, a 4,000-square-feet room with 13 types of drums and other high-quality equipment, and a 500-square-feet dance floor.

 

#9 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Mehanata
113 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002
 

If you happen to be strolling down Ludlow Street and suddenly hear some weird, loud, bohemian music, you can be pretty sure that… it’s not coming from Chloe 81. Mehanata Bulgarian bar is one of the last live music venues celebrating the sounds as they came into existence—organic and played live by genuine, electronics-free instruments and people bursting with energy as well as love, love, love. That’s what makes an evening rock. Ok, that and a lot of beer, but that’s another thing that Mehanata can easily supply.

 

#8 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Fontana’s
105 Eldridge St.
New York, NY 10002

LES attracts young, old, gay, straight, normals, weirdoes, tourists and locals with-- its cultural heritage and diversity… ok, let’s face it. It simply has a gazillion bars. That’s why we love it. It also happens to be the capital of unassuming live music joints, one of them being Fontana’s. Local scenesters and bar flies gather at the bar attracted by the artsy décor featuring fire truck red booths and art pieces gracing blue walls, while the undercover basement room is a haven for the good old New York City bands that hadn’t made it big. Yet.

 

#7 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Webster Hall
125 E 11th St.
New York, NY 10003
 

Some joints are legendary. Webster Hall needs indeed no introduction. In fact, it should become an adjective in itself, as it stands for the best New York City crowd and ambience, the event space for the biggest bands, and the superb live entertainment space and high-tech music equipment. Together with its mini-me version downstairs, The Studio—which hosts equally known artists on a smaller scale—Webster Hall New York City tops the list of high-volume music venues since the early 1990s. And it would take a lot to push it down the pedestal.

 

#6 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Drom
85 Ave. A
New York, NY, 10024
 

With a packed calendar of live world-music events, which constitute the raison d’être of Drom New York City, this popular East Village hangout (formerly Opaline) attracts the crowd from all over town. The chic red interior with a long bar serving all the regular mixings plus signature cocktails is a popular after-work and happy hour destination, while the tapas menu attracts the locals during the lunch hours.

 

 

#5 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Cotton Club
656 W 125th St.
New York, NY 10027
 

Talk about historical music joints. This might not be the original Cotton Club—the Prohibition jazz hall-- but it’s a carbon copy, reopened in 1978. The spirit is there, and so is great live jazz. Bowing to the swing tradition, the band fills this two-story boite with loud beats and the dance floor with swirling couples. If you like dancing, try it the 1940s’ way. There is something about swing that just won’t die.

 

 

#4 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Rebel
251 W 30th St # 2
New York, NY 10001
 

Rebel might not be a competition to its neighbor, Madison Square Garden, when it comes to size, but it sure is one as far as the ambience is concerned. A relatively new addition to the edgy side of New York City music scene, Rebel offers a 13, 000 square feet of hip, red space complete with cages, a band stand and state-of-the-art sound equipment. A blend of up-and-coming indie bands and major label acts attracts a crowd from different backgrounds, places, even… basements?

 

 

#3 Best Live Music Venue
The Bitter End
147 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10012

Established in 1961, The Bitter End saw Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces climb the Top 40 list during the time when Greenwich Village was home to real artists and an underground music scene. Now, Washington Square (and vicinity) is packed with NYU kids, Katy Perry is on the rise, and even Paris Hilton maintains having an ability to make music (!). And The Bitter End is still open on Bleecker Street, blasting off-label rock, indie and ethno bands like nobody’s business.

 

#2 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Santos Party House
100 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10013
 

The 8,000-square feet, industrial and raw space of Santos Party House creates an ideal environment for resonating beats. Merging Chinatown and Tribeca, this popular New York City nightclub located in a former art gallery created a new approach to live music played in clubs. Santos Party House is famous for its larger-than-life speakers blasting anything from techno to ethno and Latin beats span live by world-class Dj’s under glittering disco balls.

 

#1 NYC Best Live Music Venue
Knitting Factory
74 Leonard St # 1
New York, NY 10013
 

Knitting Factory is another New York City live music venue with a long track record of celebrity performances as well as underground concerts. Established in the 1980s (though at a different location), it is now considered the off-Top-40 center of indie, independent music and artists who refused to sell their souls to the big label Moloch. Three floors featuring four bars stand for a nice addition to the variety of performances, and the high ceilings of the main room create-- together with the high-tech equipment—an ultimate sound experience.

 

 

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