New York City is undeniably one of the best places in the world for music. Firmly rooted in the history of genres spanning from jazz to hip-hop, some of the most prominent musicians of our time have been born out of the Big Apple, and their legacy has shaped the city immeasurably in the form of many venues and hotspots throughout Manhattan and beyond. After all, it’s called the city that never sleeps for a reason.
If you’re a music fanatic and are looking for NYC’s best places for it, here are just 7 hotspots to discover.
Radio City Music Hall
This iconic venue is one of New York City’s most prominent landmarks. Radio City Music Hall is instantly recognizable, its neon façade making for one of the most iconic buildings not just in Manhattan, but perhaps the entire world.
Shows are performed here throughout the year, ranging from big pop names such as Adele and Britney Spears, to some of the greats—Tony Bennett is a regular, for example. No matter what you’re a fan of, any performance here is worth catching what for the beautiful interior architecture and grand staging that elevates shows to an unmatched level.
And, if there aren’t any shows on during your trip, feel free to take a venue tour. Radio City opens its doors to visitors wanting to explore the building, taking in the gorgeous Art Deco architecture as well as learning about the expansive history of the venue.
The Brooklyn Bowl is certainly one of the most unique venues in New York City—multiple bowling lanes stand adjacent to a 600-capacity concert area, making for a setup that you won’t find anywhere else (that is, apart from the second Brooklyn Bowl opened in Las Vegas).
With legendary acts from Guns ‘n’ Roses to The Roots all playing on this stage, it makes for one of NYC’s most significant and exciting venues—if you’re a music lover, you have to catch a show here.
What’s even more interesting about the Brooklyn Bowl is, strangely, what it’s made of. With the stage floor made from recycled truck tires and the building is constructed using materials from the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard and other sources, its renewable architecture is just another reason its visitors adore it so intensely.
The grandeur of Beacon Theatre—from its gorgeous architecture and decoration to its uptown location—makes for a very special occasion regardless of the performer. And a massive variety of them have hit this stage in the past; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones… the list goes on.
Built in 1929 and designed by Art Deco architect Walter Ahlschlager, the Beacon Theatre manages to astound and impress to this day. The sheer size of its auditorium means nearly 3,000 people can fill the room out, and concerts here are often wildly popular.
It isn’t just music that plays out here, though. Being a theatre, shows are commonly held upon the Beacon’s stage—it even played host to the premiere of Suicide Squad just a couple of years ago. The Beacon Theater is 2124 Broadway at 74th Street and Broadway.
This intimate jazz club in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village certainly has a good reputation—for years, both up-and-coming and renowned jazz acts have taken to this stage to give Blue Note the status of the world’s most famous venues for the genre.
Although expensive, it’s absolutely worth shelling out for entry to Blue Note. Grab a table and dine as a jazz act croons just meters away—the club’s atmospheric interior is only helped by the music. Blue Note is tucked away, but it’s certainly made a massive impact on NYC’s jazz scene. The Blue Note is located at 131 West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village.
Madison Square Garden
When you take to the stage at Madison Square Garden, it’s safe to say you’ve made it. This massive arena lies only a stone’s throw from Macy’s and the Empire State Building, a prime position for a concert—and the biggest names can be found performing here almost every night. Madison Square Garden is on 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
Known for its sports alongside its music, Madison Square Garden is undeniably one of the world’s best arenas, and many acts put on an extra special show here due to its legendary status. Sam Smith and Shakira are just two of the big acts performing here this year—snap up tickets fast, as people don’t hesitate to sell shows out.
This is a relatively small venue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Shows here are trendy and eclectic like the neighborhood. It’s perfect for getting up close and personal to the artists and has great acoustic shows. This pre-war building has had many lives and has starred in movies like Coyote Ugly and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Make sure to comfortable shoes because this venue is standing room only. It is located at 6 Delancey Street.
Rough Trade NYC
Rough Trade shops that are already located in England, opened a shop in Williamsburg Brooklyn, in 2013. In fact, I have attended a show at Rough Trade and it was also a standing room only venue inside of New York’s largest record store. So my plan was to have coffee at the onsite coffee shop and listen to new music until the show began. I love it, bookended by music. I highly recommend seeing a show here and taking advantage of the restaurant scene of Williamsburg. Rough Trade NYC is located at 64 North 9th Street in Brooklyn.
What’s your favorite venue to enjoy live music in New York? Did I miss it on my list? Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments below.
Until our next rendezvous …