Best Places in New York City to See a Show
I thought I would first start out with Manhattan for venues and concerts, since this is where I am mainly. You can see everything from your favorite live bands in large arenas to new groups in those cozy little hole-in-the-wall bars.
Big Venues for Live Music
For those who love the feel of large crowds going wild over their favorite music, here are some of the best venues.
Madison Square Garden
I don’t think there are too many people who haven’t heard of Madison Square Garden, since it’s been around since 1968. It’s a huge indoor arena where they not only host music concerts but sports events, ice shows and the well known circus. While tickets to these shows aren’t cheap, unless you want to sit in the “nose bleed” sections, it’s an easy one to get to because its situated right near the famous Penn Train Station.
Radio City Music Hall
The home of the Rockets, Cirque du Soleil and host to many TV shows, you can catch some up and coming groups and soloist from different music genres here. Since its right next to Rockefeller Center you can catch some amazing Christmas shows here too. I also love their film festivals that they host! This venue has seen people like Phil Collins, Barry Manilow and Britney Spears perform and has hosted the MTV Music Awards.
This venue opened its doors in 2007 and has often been host to bands who were recently playing smaller venues and were about to hit the big time. Its also close to a number of subway lines making it easy to get to. It’s a great place for checking out new groups and popular ones alike.
Downtown Rock Clubs
I’m partial to rock and indie music and NYC has a lot to offer in this genre.
I find this venue to be the best for watching indie groups, from those that are rising stars to those who have gotten their foot in the door. It has a spacious lounge downstairs and clear views from pretty much anywhere you decide to plant yourself.
Santos Party House
If the underground music scene is your thing, Santos is the place to go. They are more geared to funk, cosmic disco, soul music and house music. The also have great DJ’s and indie, metal and hip hop acts too. So you get a nice mix of everything there.
The Cake Shop
Another great venue for seeing underground rock and indie bands, the Cake Shop does tend to be a bit on the small and stuffy basement side. Smack in the heart of the lower east side of Manhattan the venue also offers coffee and vegan friendly baked goods. So if you like baked treats and rock/indie, you will be in heaven here.
If Jazz is more to your taste and you want to find spots that won’t empty your bank account, you may want to try a few of these places
Offering shows from top blues performers and weekly gigs from living jazz rock legend Mike Stern, 55 Bar is smack in the middle of an artistic and bohemian neighborhood that draws in crowds from all demographics. There is a 2 drink minimum at this venue but they do make the best drinks and it is well worth it.
If its an authentic jazz venue experience you’re after, Smalls is definitely a must see. This cozy basement venue has a speakeasy feel to it and is a dream for fans of the old New York City jazz haunts. It offers both classic hard-bop jazz and adventurous contemporary shows as well.
Located in Park Slope is this cramped but cozy French bar that is home to a diverse and lively music scene. It doesn’t look like much when you walk in until you realize that, past their well stocked bar and behind this mysterious curtain lies a music area that has been host to everything from progressive jazz, indie rock and classical chamber music to some funk from west Africa and Parisian musette music.
Of course this is only a small glimpse of the hundred of venues that can be found in NYC. Hopefully its enough to get you started on your way to enjoying what Manhattan has to offer.