New York City boasts a plethora of fantastic places to see live music—as if we really needed to tell you. But unfortunately for young music fans, getting in to see a rising band—not an established act playing a big music venue in NYC—can be tough. Here are the top spots for catching about-to-break outfits on the cheap.
WE DO NOT BOOK RACIST, SEXIST OR HOMOPHOBIC BANDS reads a statement that this LES hangout for budding punks has used since opening in 1980. That this place still exists—especially in this priced-out part of town—is pretty amazing; it was sold by the city to the collective that runs it for a whopping $1 in the late ’90s. Each Saturday, the multipurpose space, which has a zine library and a silkscreen studio, presents the Hardcore/Punk Matinee (doors 3pm; $7), bringing daytime aggro fun to underagers.
If you’re having trouble finding this DIY mecca, which is tucked away in an industrial building off the East River, just look for the people puffing away outside. (The once notoriously smoky venue finally got with the whole cig-ban thing a year ago.) Bands that have made it big still return to its cramped digs (current garage-rock kings Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees hooked up for an epic double bill in 2012), and DbA’s ahead-of-the-curve booking of punk-minded outfits is outstanding. The venue doesn’t focus on just sweat-inducing rock, though—neofolk and more subdued fare are represented too.
This second-floor recording-studio-cum-live-venue on the edge of East Williamsburg has become a go-to for the buzz-band-seeking set. Catchy psychedelic-tinged Cali group the Fresh & Onlys, pummeling Canadian trio METZ (METZ played Shea Stadium—get it?!?) and shoegazey female rockers No Joy, among other press-praised groups, have headlined. And it’s an ace venue for spotting the next big thing to come from our fair city. Bonus: Shea tapes its shows (very well, we might add) and streams tracks from its immense catalog on its site.
After its original location in Ridgewood, Queens, was ransacked two years back, we assumed that was the end of Silent Barn. But thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the beloved independently operated art space bounced back, opening up a new home in Bushwick at the end of 2012. The Barn spotlights everything from gentle electropop to noise rock, and recently hosted a gig by early-’90s alt-rock devotees Swearin’ and a Cassette Store Day bash.
No bar? No advance tickets? No promoters? No phone number? No listed address? This is still a club in Manhattan, right? John Zorn’s tiny, no-frills East Village gem attracts serious music lovers of every age—in other words, not youngsters fixated on tweeting midset that bands are “killing it”—as well as envelope-pushing acts that encompass free jazz, experimental classical music and droney guitar work. thestonenyc.com