When it comes to live music venues in NYC, you can expect a particular kind of atmosphere from those in Manhattan. Radio City Music Hall’s resplendent cushioned seating and Terminal 5’s 3,000-person sprawl have their place, but if you have your sights on the best indie rock bands, DIY vibes and a reasonable sightline to the stage, you might want to check out the best places to see live music in Brooklyn. We’ve collected together our favorite digs, from the best venues to see live hip-hop to the most brutal metal bars in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best live music venues in NYC
Best live music venues in Brooklyn
When, in 2007, the local promoter Bowery Presents found itself in need of a Williamsburg outpost, it gave the former Northsix a face-lift and took over the bookings. The venue is a common stop for rising indie bands that have leveled up to bigger rooms, but even those shows feel intimate in these well laid-out confines.
Operated by the hip folks behind beloved art and music haven Glasslands, this 24,000 square-foot converted warehouse hosts live shows and DJ nights on three stages: two inside and one rooftop space. Its bookings feature a diverse mix of cutting-edge indie-rock, electronic music and more.
This eatery, bar and stage—located on a happening little Williamsburg strip—has already become a local musical institution in a few short years, with its lively schedule of au courant musical acts and DJs that range from experimental (Pharmakon) to the voguish (Ariel Pink). And the food's pretty good too.
This Greenpoint club—moodily decorated with all-black walls and dead roses hanging above the bar—is one of the best places in the city to see metal, rock and more experimental heavy music, with reliably loud bands typically booked seven nights a week.
Thanks to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, the Prospect Park Bandshell is to Brooklynites what Central Park SummerStage is to Manhattan residents—the place to hear great music in the great outdoors. Huge names routinely perform here, from indie-rock royalty to hip-hop and soul veterans.
Williamsburg isn't quite dead yet. Or that's the claim implicit in new-music venue National Sawdust, which opened in October 2015. The space can accommodate 170 people seated or 350 standing and includes two bars and a restaurant. While the brick building’s exterior (and the name of the sawdust factory it once housed) remains, Brooklyn design studio Bureau V completely rebuilt its interior with an eye toward presenting both acoustic and electric music. With composer Paola Prestini as the creative and executive director—and a host of curators that span classical and indie-rock spheres—there’s little doubt the nonprofit space is in good hands.
These cavernous concert digs from Bowery Presents boast an audience capacity of 1,800 in its 20,000-square-foot converted steel fabrication warehouse. The industrial-chic building houses 40 restrooms (yup 40!), tapered balconies and a plant-adorned "green roof." Sure, it's a big space, but Brooklyn Steel wears it well with clean sight lines and plenty of wattage.
For night owls who equate clubs on desolate streets with hipness, the Bell House has your number. But this Gowanus bar and music venue is worth the trek. The sprawling spot’s two bars—one nestled in an ornate front room, the other in the rear performance space—provide plenty of drinking options from beers to a list of more than 20 bourbons. Its independently booked talent ranges from comedy stars to bands and dance parties.
An imperishable part of New York's notorious downtown scene of the 1980s and an MVP venue even now, Roulette packed its bags in the spring of 2011 and decamped to Brooklyn, where it set up shop in a lavishly refurbished Art Deco theater. Come for the jazz and experimental music and leave happy.
This bowling alley and live-music venue fully embraces the new mania for local nostalgia. The space takes its design cues from Coney Island with old freak-show posters and carnival-game relics, and all of the beer sold inside is made in the borough. In addition to killer food and drink, the venue has a knack for booking top jam-band types and other groove-friendly acts.