With a confluence of cultures from every corner of the Earth and a liberal atmosphere fostering musical freedom and diversity, New York City’s music venues have life and variety for every taste.
A particularly historic NYC music venue is the brainchild of John D. Rockefeller III and was part of the urban renewal projects of the mid-20th century. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts sits on more than 15 acres of prime real estate just west of Central Park’s 66th Street entrance. Lincoln Center consists of 29 different indoor and outdoor performance venues, including the Metropolitan Opera House for the prestigious Metropolitan Opera and Avery Fisher Hall, home to the New York Philharmonic. Perhaps its most famous flourish, the hall was originally built in 1962 as simply the Philharmonic Hall but suffered from many acoustical issues. Today, with several maple and adjustable glass surfaces installed, this NYC music venue hosts the annual July-August Mostly Mozart Festival, performances of Disney’s Fantasia, chorales, and modern work by composers like Philip Glass.
Central Park Shows
Central Park itself is a NYC music venue, albeit in the summer months of June to August. Rain or shine, Central Park’s SummerStage presents high-quality music performances accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds for free. Borne out of the tumultuous 70s and 80s, SummerStage was funded in 1986 to recall the original purpose of the park as a welcoming public resource. Although artists like Joan Baez and Mos Def will be hitting the stage in June 2013, the SummerStage staff goes out of its way to feature up-and-coming acts like The Airborne Toxic Event and The Calder Quartet.
In the 80s and 90s, NYC’s music venues produced leaders in hardcore punk, ska, and heavy metal. Today’s indie rock bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, and LCD Soundsystem were born out of venues like Gramercy Theatre, which has roots as far back at 1937. The Gramercy has gone through many lives as a cinema and off-Broadway theatrical production house but when Live Nation entertainment company took over in 2006, it became one of the best-enjoyed music venues, featuring a grotto-like downstairs lounge to compliment its 500-person concert pit. Uniquely, the pit is slightly inclined to make it easier to see acts like Steve Winwood, Jay-Z, and Todd Rundgren (May 10).
Off island — way off island — is one of NYC’s most unique music venues, the Brooklyn Bowl. In Greenpoint, Brooklyn you get 16 lanes, two bars, a Blue Ribbon-restaurant mix of comfort food and old favorites, and a 400-person concert venue. Flatscreens abound to give a complete experience for those bands experimenting with acoustically-responsive visuals, too. Bands like Icona Pop and Foxygen have made their mark on the Brooklyn Bowl stage as much as the DJs have. Music legend DJ ?Questlove tears up the floor every Thursday night.
NYC music venues are alive and well, bubbling and transforming across the arts. From classical to indie rock, it’s all here.