The Music Lover’s Guide To New York City
By Shontel Horne
The culture scene in New York City is just one of the many factors that make the city great, and music has long been an integral segment of the arts in Manhattan and throughout New York. New York has everything from massive arenas to intimate venues, so when it comes to enjoying live music in the city, these venues always hit the right notes.
Radio City Music Hall
This Manhattan landmark is one of the most famous venues for live performances in the world, and the iconic stage at the Radio City Music Hall has welcomed everyone from Tina Turner and David Bowie to stars in town for MTV’s VMAs. It’s surreal to watch big names take the stage here, but getting a picture under the marquee before walking into the theater is worth the price of a concert on its own.
Madison Square Garden
You haven’t made it as a musician until you’ve performed at Madison Square Garden. The home of the New York Knicks also doubles as a world-class music venue, so when superstar artists are in town, there’s a good chance this is where they’ll be performing.
Brooklyn’s Barclays Center may be just six-years-old, but it has given Madison Square Garden a run for its money as the go-to venue for well-known musical acts. Drake, Jay-Z, and The Weeknd have all performed at the 19,000-seat Barclays Center, and it’s only going to see more stars in the years to come.
Mercury East Presents owns many of New York’s most famous venues including Warsaw, Mercury Lounge, Gramercy Theatre, and Bowery Ballroom, but Irving Plaza has seen some of the most famous names in music on its stage, and there’s a show set for nearly every night of the week. Located in a building that has been around for more than 150 years, rock, hip-hop, and pop are common on the schedule, with artists like Jay Rock, Chief Keef, and Davido all getting their time on the Irving stage.
With a capacity of just 2,100, the PlayStation Theater in Manhattan is one of the more intimate places to see acts like Jeremih, Teyana Taylor, Jezzy, and Damian Marley take the stage. The venue may be on the smaller side, but the space is perfect for a night out without the hassle that comes with going to a concert at one of the major arenas.
Avant Gardner and Brooklyn Mirage
When a party or show is at East Williamburg’s Avant Gardner or its outdoor space The Brooklyn Mirage, expect a cool crowd to show up to enjoy live DJ sets, international musicians, and local bands in one of Brooklyn’s most trendy event spaces.
You don’t have to be familiar with New York to know that the Apollo Theater is one of the most important venues in the city, especially for black performers and audiences. Located in Harlem, the Apollo is known around the world thanks to the TV show It’s Showtime at the Apollo, which aired between 1987 and 2008 and was rebooted in 2016. 104 years after it opened its doors and welcomed everyone from the late BB King, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald onto its stage, the Apollo will forever be instrumental to black music heritage in America.
People flock to Tilly’s BKLYN for the Caribbean food and fun cocktails, but the intimate Bedstuy eatery also has live music from local and visiting acts that keep the crowds coming back. Get a table, order drinks and dishes like the coconut curry shrimp, and enjoy live soca, reggae, jazz, and soul music into the early morning.