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The Best Live Music and Concert Venues in New York City

October 14, 2014 - by Linda Sheridan

Frank Sinatra sings in New York, New York, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." New York City is a year round concert destination. But, summer will soon be here and that’s touring season for veteran music acts such as Def Leppard and Kiss (Aug. 6 at Jones Beach -- there will be many more double bill acts there, see our outdoor venue & summer festival section!). Surprise appearances are also in store; Lykke Li is set to perform at the Apollo May 15; Coldplay just announced a show at the Beacon Theatre (May 5) Bryan Ferry will perform there, too, Oct. 1. Katy Perry takes to the stage at Barclays Center (July 24-25). Two highly anticipated tours coming in early fall, include the complete lineup of Fleetwood Mac (Oct. 6-7 at Madison Square Garden) and Mötley Crüe, going on its final tour, with special guest Alice Cooper, also at Madison Square Garden (Oct. 28).

Click here to read about outdoor music venues in NYC.

If it’s variety you’re seeking, New York City’s lineup of outdoor music festivals is bigger than ever, with  headliners Jack White/Outkast and dozens of other rock/electronica/hip hop artists at the Governors Ball at Randall’s Island (6/6-8). There are also RiverRocks NYC, Celebrate Brooklyn, Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and many others. Perhaps you’re seeking something more intimate, dinner and a show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (singer/percussionist/Prince collaborator Sheila E performs May 31), or indie acts at venues such as the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

There are several things to consider when seeing a performer live: acoustics, visibility, the option to stand or sit, ease of transportation. We’ve compiled an inventory (and a little bit of history) of some of New York’s most popular music venues, as well as a list of upcoming NYC music festivals.

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden, aka MSG or “The Garden,” in midtown Manhattan, is probably regarded by most performers as the pinnacle of success... (read more)

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

With a seating capacity of just under 6,000, Radio City Music Hall is the largest indoor theatre in the world. Quite a diverse list of performers have appeared there, from Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Liberace, to a-ha, Iron Maiden, Jack White, and The Cure... (read more)

Apollo Theater

Apollo Theater, New York City

It's still home to the famed Amateur Night at the Apollo, but in 1914, the neo-classical theater known today as the Apollo Theater was Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. It was eventually closed down and reopened in 1934 as the 125th Street Apollo Theater, the format changed from burlesque to variety revues and redirected to Harlem’s growing African-American community... (read more)

Beacon Theatre

Beacon Theatre, New York City

Located on the Upper West Side, the 2,894-seat Beacon Theatre is considered to be Radio City Music Hall’s "older sister." The art deco-designed Beacon opened in 1929 as  a venue for vaudeville acts, drama, opera and movies and is well regarded for its superior acoustics... (read more)

Barclays Center

Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Less than two years old, Barclays Center in Brooklyn is already one of NYC’s hottest new entertainment venues... (read more)

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Photo: Adam Macchia

Also located in Brooklyn, The Music Hall of Willamsburg is just a short train ride from Union Square, by taking the L train to Bedford Street. Open since 2007, it has quickly become one of the more popular venues with an intimate setting (its capacity is only 550), hosting concerts by acts such as The Pixies and Cat Power. The venue is operated by The Bowery Presents, (the same folks as Bowery Ballroom). 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-486-5400, musichallofwilliamsburg.com

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York City

One of New York City’s most famous destinations for opera, orchestra, jazz, ballet, film and theatre lovers alike since 1956, Lincoln Center houses an impressive selection of 46 different venues... (read more...)

Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall, New York City
Jeff Goldberg/Esto

Inspired by a chance meeting between Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie and conductor of the Oratorio Society of New York, Walter Damrosch, Carnegie Hall opened in 1891. Today it is comprised of three spaces: Stern Auditorium, Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall... (read more...)

Click here to read about outdoor music venues in NYC.

54 Below

54 Below, New York City
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown

The popular nightspot with the in-theatre crowd, 54 Below has undergone a complete reinvention by multiple Tony Award-winning producers Tom Viertel, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel and Steve Baruch... (read more)

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

BB King Blues Club & Grill, New York City

Founded by legendary blues guitarist B.B. King in 2000, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill offers an intimate opportunity for patrons to both have a meal and catch a great, live act... (read more)

Terminal 5

Terminal 5, New York City

Way over in Hell’s Kitchen is Terminal 5, an extravagant, multilevel event site with five distinctly different room environments. Originally opened in 2003 and renovated in 2007, the venue has 40-foot ceilings, high-tech sound and lighting, a kitchen, and a roof deck...  (read more)

Highline Ballroom

Highline Ballroom, New York City

Photo: Dino Perucci Photography

Nestled beneath the High Line, The Highline Ballroom is a 700-capacity standing venue located in the heart of bustling Chelsea. Open since 2007, acts that have performed at the Highline Ballroom include Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Amy Winehouse, to name just a few... (read more)

Webster Hall

Webster Hall, New York City

Located in the East Village, Webster Hall is one of New York City’s oldest nightclubs. Built in 1886, it originally served as a hall for union rallies, weddings and military functions, and during the 1910-20s, masquerade balls. Public concerts started in the 1950s... (read more)

The Stand Comedy Club & Restaurant

The Stand Comedy Club & Restaurant, NYC

Admittedly, The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club in Gramercy is primarily a venue for comedy, but it also offers some unique musical entertainment, podcasts and burlesque shows, not to mention delectable dishes and unique cocktails. New Yorkers can now enjoy great comedy seven nights a week paired with a great meal, thanks to The Stand’s critically acclaimed chef, Seth Levine. Acts that have performed here include Janeane Garofalo, Jim Gaffigan, Judah Friedlander, Colin Quinn and Susan Silverman. The Stand is easily reachable by subway, get the 6 train to 23rd Street station. Click here for more info.

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