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Friday, April 25, 2014

A Rundown of Music Venues - New York City, New Jersey, Brooklyn

In the past three years I think I've been to almost every music venue in New York City, New Jersey and Brooklyn and I'm going to give you my rundown on each of them.

The National / Phoenix

These two bands couldn't be more different in terms of atmosphere and audience and both concerts sucked.  I've seen both bands in other venues and they were amazing so to me that says something about the venue.  Outside of it costing an arm and a leg for a beer and having SO many levels, I sat in the nosebleeds for one and box seats for the other and I just feel like the music is so QUIET.  The sound should be keeping the people up top in mind.  I felt really distant from the passion of the artists.  Not my thing at all.  Maybe a DJ would be better since I heard great things about Sensation.

Neon Trees / Phosphorescent / Vacationer / Boy & Bear / The Neighborhood

You can see the trend here!  This is only a handful of the bands I've seen at Bowery.  I love the way this venue is set up with the bar downstairs for you to chill in between sets.  There are multiple exits from the concert floor upstairs so it isn't a pain to get in an out.  And the stage area is large but still feels intimate.  Considering it's primarily GA I never feel crowded by people there but still feel like I'm part of something.  And the view is good even from the back.  One of my favorite venues.

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Savoir Adore / Sir Sly

It's a really big floor, almost too big to see from the back by the bar.  It's never crowded and fun to dance around and be silly because you have room but it can sometimes feel a little empty which isn't great for the atmosphere.  The acoustics are a little funky because it's also a bowling alley and restaurant so the sound can get lost but access to food and bowling is never a bad thing!  Also generally very cheap tickets ($10-15) and hardly ever sells out so a good option for a night that you didn't plan ahead.

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Midnight Magic

My first time here was a couple weeks ago and I LOVED this place.  Awesome light show, the bar moved quickly although I'm pretty sure it was cash only and it was nice and dancey in there.  They also have these really cool light fixtures that glow.  Very dark and small so when they turn on the fog you may need a second outside to chill.  It's also in a backroom past the bathrooms of a regular bar so if you get tired of the dance party you can always just go hang in the regular bar.  Just make sure you get your hand stamped!  I will definitely be back.

Savoir Adore / Joywave / Van She

Another Brooklyn spot that I love.  Very small but doesn't get terribly crowded or at least not in the back near the bar.  Every spot in the house is a good one although there are a couple poles holding up the ceiling that you don't want to get stuck behind!  Also cash only I'm pretty sure.  Acoustics aren't AS good probably just because it's so tiny and strangely shaped that the sound bounces around.  Great for dancing!  They also always have the stage decorated with really cool art pieces which adds a fun, hipster feel to it.

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Two Door Cinema Club

Only been here the one time and it was fine.  It's pretty sizable and kind of hard to find people.  Not a huge favorite of mine because by the time you get back with your beer to the front where your friends are the set is half over.  I feel like people here can be kind of pushy too.  Lots of doors at the back though so easy to enter/exit.

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Coeur de Pirate / RUFUS / Lemaitre

Love this place too although it's kind of out of the way.  CDP and RUFUS are VERY different and I loved both shows.  I also like how they have bars running along either side of the stage so that it's easy to get a drink.  Less enthused with the coat check's right next to the stairs leading out of the venue so it isn't a great flow post-concert.  And there is just that one exit from what I can tell so sort of a pain getting out.  You also have in/out privileges and a pretty solid view even from the back.  I think the music carries really well too.  Highly recommended. 

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Passion Pit / Empire of the Sun

Well this is one of the best places to see a summer concert I can tell you that.  Only problem with an outdoor venue on the water is the sound carries A LONG WAY.  Not even sure they are allowed to still have concerts at Pier 26 after these two concerts.  If so, it will be a shame because the view was incredible, the bands were epic and being outside was nice.  Easy to get to the front and easy to get a beer (although cash only).  Only issue is getting there is kind of a pain... no subway directly there.


Sammy Adams / Capital Cities / Charlie XCX

This place can be a little hit or miss for me.  For Sammy, I was up in the VIP section which was great for the view but I remember being jealous of everyone down in GA.  They have giant beers here which is nice because you don't have to go back for seconds as often but I feel like the bathroom here is always full so...double edged sword.  Cap Cities show was incredible.  I think it works better for bands with a lot of energy.  Also very central and easy to get to.

Flight Facilities

So really hard to judge since I've only been there one time and it was one of the best shows I've seen so I'm probably a little bias.  Getting your coat here is definitely a pain and the stage isn't very elevated so it's kind of hard to see the act but Flight Facilities was all about dancing which this place is definitely perfect for.  A little bit of a pain to get a drink but overall I'd go back here.  Probably better for DJs than bands though.

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Swedish House Mafia

Floor is amazing otherwise seats aren't great just like any giant venue so I'd either want to be super close GA or at a DJ where it doesn't matter as much.  It had good sound, great atmosphere and an amazing light show.  Obviously going to be more expensive drink wise but more booths to get it from and you can eat too.  Hard to say since I'm so used to seeing sports here.  And then obviously getting there is super easy.

Gemini Club / The 1975

Very small, very intimate and very friendly.  Can get very crowded and the bar is actually in a different room so a little annoying when getting drinks.  Wish there were more bands I liked playing here because I really like the venue and it's super easy to get to.  You can get stuck in the line though if you don't time your arrival well.



St Lucia / Savoir Adore / The Sounds / Ra Ra Riot / The Neighbourhood/ Metronomy

Probably my favorite venue period.  It always seems just crowded enough to feel close to those around you without actually touching anyone.  The beer seems cheaper here although the line kind get a little long.  The coat check and bathroom are downstairs and the line can get out of control so I recommend going down early or holding your stuff.  Great view from everywhere in the venue and the acoustics are great.  Love concerts here.

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Duke Dumont

I actually went here last night and was very impressed.  It was totally not what I expected.  I was thinking a giant club like Marquee or LAVO but instead it felt more like a smaller music venue with a small stage and dance floor and then balconies wrapping around to create a second floor.  It was fairly easy to get drinks, great venue for a DJ.  The only annoying thing was some of the people were REALLY pushy for no reason.  There was room and yet they still felt the need to get up on your back which drives me crazy.  They also don't allow photos/video inside which is annoying and nice at the same time.  I'll be back but probably only for DJs.

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This is one of the more laidback venues since it's a bar foremost.  Another place where you can just stroll in and pay $10 to see a show without having thought ahead.  It's never crowded because the bands are so unknown and it will be hit or miss unless you are going to see someone specific but I like it.  The stage is pretty low so it can be hard to see if there are a lot of people.  Oh, and the beers are dirt cheap which is always a good thing.

Rolling Stones

This is probably my favorite of the larger venues (MSG/Barclays).  I just feel like the stage seems closer, the beer/food more accessible and the sound is louder.  Not much else to share besides that.  I'd see a show here over the other two.  Biggest downside?  It's in New Jersey so getting back to Manhattan is a pain in the ---

Florence + the Machine

This place lacks the intimacy of a smaller venue especially for a band like Florence.  It needs bands with a bigger sound... she got kind of lost in the largeness of the room and the drinks were hideously expensive.  I won't likely come back.

Two Door Cinema Club / ALT-J

I'm a sucker for outdoor venues and TDCC's set here was amazing.  They threw all these giant balloons up into the air that reflected the light and the only reason they got away with it was because it's a huge outdoor space.  It can be a little challenging to get up close and the drinks are STUPID expensive.  You also can't BYOB in case you are curious.  The subways headed back can be really crowded too because everyone is headed back downtown.  Overall though I'll be back this summer.  It's just so nice to listen to music outside.  I wish they did more daytime shows for bands I like.

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Little Daylight / Haerts / Ghost Beach

The acoustics here are pretty terrible but the atmosphere is SO fun.  I've seen mostly dancey artists here and have been on stage with Ghost Beach.  I really like it for the crowd.  The stage is high so it's easy to see and the drinks are fairly cheap too.  It's a three drink minimum with a card which is so random. Bathroom is downstairs and there is never a line even for the women which is a definitely plus.

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Chvrches / The Neighbourhood / Portugal the Man / Miike Snow / Ghost Loft

And that brings me to my least favorite venue.... Terminal 5.  It's such a huge bummer that I hate this place so much since so many of my favorite bands only play there when they come to NYC but it's to the point that I'd rather miss them then go.  It's a pain to get to, they always oversell it so you can't see and can't move.  The speakers are still up so that if you are standing in one place one eardrum is just getting BLASTED.  The bar is way in the back and really annoying to get a drink.  And you'd think you could get away from it all by going upstairs?  Oh no, that's just as crowded and forget actually being able to see.  Man I really really hate this place and hopefully never have to go back because even when I think it will be okay this time it isn't and I regret going.


Theophilus / FLUME / Broken Bells / Kodaline

I can't even keep track of all the bands I've seen here.  It's another favorite venue of mine for all the reasons I've said before - cheap drinks, easy access to my apartment, easy view even from the back, dense but not to crowded, etc.  Only cons are the bathroom line which gets a little ridiculous and the age range is generally really young because it's near NYU.  I get a little tired of the teenagers.   The acoustics are okay... I've found better luck with DJs like Flume or more tech sets like Broken Bells.


Crystal Fighters / Hey Ocean!

I love this venue too.  It's soo tiny and usually has pretty obscure bands so I don't get many opportunities to go there.  Obviously I could start branching out but there are always so many shows I already know I want to see.  It's super chill down here and easy to grab beers and see.  I highly recommend.