Essential New York: Music

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  • Cake Shop

  • Photograph: Julia Gartland

    Goodbye Blue Monday

  • Other Music

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

    Santos Party House

Cake Shop


Goodbye Blue Monday
Relax while taking in this drinkery's distinct junkyard aesthetic (the walls are lined with old books, random lamps and retro radios). The acts that play here are pretty eclectic, ranging from antifolk to experimental jazz, and, best of all, gigs are always free. Don't miss the popular series Bushwick Book Club, where bands play new tunes based on that month's reading assignment. 1087 Broadway at Dodworth St, Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-453-6343, goodbye-blue-monday.com)

Cake Shop
Don't let the cramped, dingy digs at this subterranean spot fool you: The indie- and underground-rock bookings are among the most adventurous in Manhattan, and the tight quarters inspire some memorably sweaty dance parties. Pop upstairs to the street-level space for a beer, vinyl LP, slice of cake (really) or coffee. 152 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-253-0036, cake-shop.com)

Smalls
Sometimes we want old-school jazz sans the shtick we've come to expect at a dinner-club gig. Luckily, this cozy basement venue is still kicking. Inside, it feels like one of those hole-in-the-wall NYC jazz haunts of yore over which fans routinely obsess. The lineup is really solid, with a fun late-night jam session starting after midnight each evening. 183 W 10th St at Seventh Ave (212-252-5091, smallsjazzclub.com). $20, late show $10.

Glasslands Gallery
If you're looking to catch a Brooklyn buzz band before it breaks, look here. Marvel at the cool DIY decor (we're partial to the cloudlike creations adorning the ceiling above the stage) while nodding to sets from local indie faves like Ducktails and Cults. The music/burlesque/party destination spotlights less-hyped acts, too; recently, metal band Liturgy has rocked the house, and Canadian electro-rock crew Suuns play November 14. 289 Kent Ave between South 1st and 2nd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-1450, glasslands.blogspot.com)

Other Music
For our money, this tiny space might be Manhattan's best record shop, not only for its indie and experimental selections, but also for its impressive live bookings. Free gigs by the likes of Phosphorescent, Superchunk and Dirty Projectors are offered regularly, and last spring the store even teamed up with the National to create the "High Violet Annex," a pop-up venue that hosted performances to celebrate the release of the band's latest LP. 15 E 4th St between Broadway and Lafayette St (212-477-8150, othermusic.com)

United Palace
This renovated movie house, which was once a vaudeville theater, dates to the 1930s. And it really does feel as if you've entered a palace here, with its shimmering chandeliers, ornate detailed ceiling and gold-drenched corridors. The venue's solid booking has ranged, over the past few years, from popular young acts such as Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire to stalwarts of the music world like Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers Band. Local aughts sensation Interpol plays Friday 5. 4140 Broadway at 175th St (212-568-5260, unitedpalaceconcerts.com)

Barbs
Witness some of the most diverse shows in town at this Park Slope spot; depending on the night, you could catch African, French, Brazilian or Colombian music. One of our favorite regular players, Slavic Soul Party, throw down on November 11. Separated from the bar up front by only a humble curtain, the tiny back room can get pretty hopping (and packed), so arrive early. 376 9th St at Sixth Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-965-9177, barbesbrooklyn.com)

Santos Party House
This two-level club (colaunched by Andrew W.K.) is the site, unsurprisingly, of many slamming parties. Recent gigs have run the gamut from the Jersey Shore--approved LMFAO to garage-soul outfit King Khan & the Shrines; the only connection among the eclectic mix seems to be that you'll have a blast at each show. 96 Lafayette St between Walker and White St (212-584-5492, santospartyhouse.com)

S.O.B.'s
The titular sounds of Brazil (S.O.B.—get it?) are just some of the many global genres that keep this world-music and hip-hop bastion hopping. The impressive cocktails and danceable beats are made sweeter by the place's sharp-looking clientele. 204 Varick St at Houston St (212-243-4940, sobs.com)

Monster Island
Here's to Todd P, the indefatigable promoter whose DIY spaces, like this basement venue, have hosted some seriously fun shows. The cheap beer, partying kids and on-the-rise indie bands heighten the anything-goes atmosphere. Stomp along to catchy local garage rockers the Babies on November 19. 128 River St at Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (toddpnyc.com)

Bowery Ballroom
You can enjoy clear views and bright sound no matter where you stand at this downtown venue, which has become a rock staple over the past decade. The retro-looking, dimly lit lounge downstairs is a stylish place to grab a drink and people-watch between sets. Upcoming bands to watch out for include Tame Impala (November 18 and 19), Midnight Juggernauts (November 26) and Jeff Tweedy (December 4). 6 Delancey St between Bowery and Chrystie St (212-533-2111, boweryballroom.com)

Radio City Music Hall
Few rooms scream "New York City!" more than this gilded hall, where you can take in the awe-inspiring Art Deco surroundings (check out the illuminated arches on the ceiling and the grand foyer). Bookings are all over the map; expect everything from seasonal staples like the Rockettes to druggy Brit-rock outfit Spiritualized. 1260 Sixth Ave at 50th St (212-247-4777, radiocity.com)

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