610 W. 56th Street, Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen
Terminal 5 is kind of in the middle of nowhere…and perhaps that’s what gives it its strange “Beyond Thunderdome” allure. The architecture is semi-futuristic and, depending on who’s performing, the stage design is Spartan, but the sound is, for rooms of this size, pretty darn good. Although it only boasts a handful of shows a month, make no mistake, a night at Terminal 5 will be worth your while—that is, if your while is all about the almost-large venue experience. With huge vaulted ceilings and three floors of listening and socializing space, every spot (and seat if you can nab one) is good for seeing and hearing the music, but not so great for intimacy…see past columns for those spots.
125 E. 11th Street, Lower East Side
When I (and maybe you) was younger, Webster Hall along with Limelight, and some other place I can’t remember, was the dark playground of all things alternative west of Long Island. When I played there with my old band Surreal and our merry prankster friends, the club seemed to be just opening its doors to guitars and rock and roll. Now, Webster Hall is the Ringling Brothers of indie rock and crazy dance parties, and their Grand Ballroom is the main tent. All metaphors aside, you can still check out “Circus Saturdays” for fire-eating, contortionist fun. Wearing black, it appears, has become optional.
82 W. 3rd Street, Greenwich Village
There are others more famous for sure, but if you like after-hours jazz complete with an underground and slightly experimental edge, then Zinc is the place for you. Super-talented names pass through this joint with little or no hoopla and play late into the night (4am on weekends). And with Detour and Tonic now defunct, Zinc may soon become the place to go for happening jazz on Manhattan Island for those in the know, especially if you want to avoid outrageous covers and overpriced drinks. Don’t wait too long though…Zinc Bar may be headed toward that kind of stardom soon enough.