The abundance of smallish live music venues to frequent when you, your date, or out-of-town guests get a penchant for watering holes and disparate tunes is an obvious perk to living in New York City. Aside from those larger, mega-popular concert-specific spots like Radio City Music, Bowery Ballroom and Terminal 5, this city is bustling with more intimate atmospheres to catch live acts in every borough, for half the cost of attendance and number of attendees. We've rounded up some of our favorite places about town to catch some last minute, or perfectly planned melodies:
Rockwood Music Hall This Lower East Side establishment has been booking popular and indie acts for years. Plenty of shows are free unless otherwise stated on their calendars, and only those legally permitted to drink can pass through their doors.
Smalls Jazz Club Local and visiting artists of all ages and colors offering their funky and moody jazz numbers perform in this tiny space nightly. Now a staple of Greenwich Village, Smalls not only offers live internet streams of each performance but door fees are seriously cheap for such high art.
Pianos Also on the Lower East Side, Pianos has been a go-to source for diverse live tunes for years. The age of the place shows in its decor, giving it that cool rockstar vibe. The bar food is consistent and they serve actual frozen margaritas (as rare as their cover charges) which really only ups the ante.
NUBLU Another small jazz spot, but definitely not just another jazz club. The patrons here are as colorful and vibrant as the tunes. Just walking up to the heavily graffitied door and you are transported to a time when the East Village held the hippest streets to hear new music.
Joe's Pub A serious NYC music staple in NoHo, Joe's has undergone a healthy facelift in recent years, refashioning a few small and large stages to pair with Old Hollywood-style seating. Major recording artists perform here right along with talented unknowns, and some have actually managed to be both (Lana Del Rey used to perform regularly under her birth name, before she truly became Lana). The spaces are lovely, the ticket prices range from dirt cheap to steep, and the food belongs to Andrew Carmellini, so prepare to have your taste buds tantalized along with your eyes and ears.
The Way Station We love this spot for it's Brooklyn location, insanely cheap drinks, intimate stage setting providing close-up encounters with the performers and patrons, and kitschy Dr. Who bathroom. There's hardly ever a door fee, and the live acts range from comedy to folk to alternative jams. Just don't plan your visit around food because there is none. Feel free to order delivery from the array of restaurants on the block, however.
Pete's Candy Store A popular music and reading venue in Williamsburg that has cheap drinks, eclectic performances and a garden? Makes perfect sense to us, too.
Red Rooster We can't fathom a conversation about music in New York without the mention of Harlem. What's most enticing about Harlem's Red Rooster is the adorable space and decor of the restaurant leading to Ginny's Supper Club--the lusty downstairs atmosphere for cool live performances, and the tasty eats created by famed chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Alright, people; gather your posse, or even head out solo and venture to any of these fine NYC establishments for good tunes and great times.