217 East Houston Street, Lower East Side
Although it’s been around for quite some time now, The Mercury Lounge is the baby—the youngest child, if you will—of the NYC event production behemoth called The Bowery Presents. These folks are responsible for putting together the shows at most of the major larger venues in the metropolitan area, everything from The Bowery Ballroom to Madison Square Garden. They use The Mercury Lounge, which seems crowded with more than a hundred people in attendance, mostly for artists who are on the rise or veterans whose fan base has remained small but strong. Evenings at The Mercury Lounge always exude a nubile sexiness, especially when the weather is warm and the corner of Houston and A is lit up with rock stars and their muses with the metaphoric top down.
6 Delancey Street, Lower East Side
Hanging in the waiting room/cocktail lounge/bar area here is a little like Christmas Eve. You’re present, sure, but you’re really excited for what’s next, what’s inside the box. And at The Bowery Ballroom when the doors open to the 550-person main space, you’re usually not disappointed. It’s a great place to experience live music. The gigantic curtains tied back exude authenticity (A true ballroom? A true stage? On Delancey?), while whatever is happening and relevant in the modern music paradigm blazes through the sound system. Head for the balcony for a bird’s eye view and a seat if the authenticity of standing room only floor space is not the thing for you.
THE BLENDER THEATER
127 East 23rd Street, Gramercy Park
A bit roomier than The Bowery Ballroom, The Blender Theater likes choices. There are 499 seats for you to choose from—none assigned—and a sizable floor space for listening, standing, photographing, chatting, socializing, or whatever else you can think of doing during a concert. This movie theater/art house-turned-concert hall can light up your imagination with interesting architecture and eclectic performances. And on certain nights when the music’s really good, you can almost see the screen drop back down and the opening credits roll out. Will music always be the conduit to the film of our lives?