New York City has long been home to an awesome music scene. From jazz to punk rock to hip-hop to honky tonk, you can pretty much find it all here. Manhattan used to be the place to go to find a band of your liking, but these days Brooklyn is the top choice when it comes to hearing and discovering all kinds of music. The borough features underground and off-the-books indie shows to mid-size gathering spaces and giant venues like Barclays Center that bring in some of the biggest acts in the world! There’s no shortage of places to catch a stellar show in the city, but here are some of the very best live music venues in Brooklyn to keep on your list.
Located in Greenpoint, right by McCarren Park, this dive bar hosts live comedy acts, TV screenings and some of the coolest live music acts you can find in the city. They invite a wide array of performers in, from heavy metal to acoustic rock to indie and hip-hop. It’s a small stage meant for smaller name acts, but is the perfect place to slip into for a beer and a chance to discover new sounds.
This is an unexpectedly cool place to hear all kinds of music in Williamsburg. It is an outpost of London’s flagship independent record store, so you can browse through its large selection of vinyl while you wait for the artists to set up. Head to the cave-like venue in the back to see your favorite artist up close and personal. They have seats but you might find yourself jamming out on the dance floor — it’s the kind of place that makes every show feel like it should be marked as a moment in history.
Located right on North 6th Street in Williamsburg, National Sawdust has popped up as one of the best spaces to hear your favorite band as they tour through the Northeast. The space itself is a former sawdust factory and the owners turned it into a super-chic spot by maintaining its unique structure. They book the most hyped indie bands as well as the best ones you’ve never heard of, and they also host fun events that support a variety of musical genres. Come hungry for dinner, as you will also find a built-in restaurant with food by award-winning chef Patrick Connolly.
The Spare Room at The Gutter
This hipster bowling alley doubles up as one of Greenpoint’s best places to catch a live show. Where else can you play a game or two of bowling, dine on fried chicken and hear your favorite band all in one venue? The spare room is small so you will get a cozy and personal experience hearing one of the local or touring bands that come through here. The cover isn’t usually more than $5, so you don’t have to break the bank to get in. Expect to hear some pretty funky, experimental music from bands you’ve never heard of but might just love.
If you’re into dark, heavy, loud and noisy music, Saint Vitus is the place for you! It’s a small venue located in Greenpoint on Manhattan Avenue and has been showcasing both small and big-name acts for years. The owners modeled it after the metal bars they’d experienced in London, and you’ll find yourself alongside many of Brooklyn’s metalheads as you sidle up to the bar. If you are in it for the noise, Saint Vitus won’t let you down.
Baby’s All Right
Many locals will tell you that this is the best place to hear live music in Brooklyn — mainly because they get the best acts right as they are blowing up and everyone in town wants to hear them. They’ve gotten so popular that it can be hard to even get into the main room to see the stage! But no matter how many other fans are around, you can always hear the music from the venue’s front room. Check them out to hear the latest up-and-coming stars of the NYC music scene.
Another bowling alley that hosts live music? Only in New York. Bowl your heart out and then hang around to catch one of the stellar lineups they arrange here. Depending on the night, you can hear jazz, folk, hip-hop, or even a live DJ set from Questlove. Located in Williamsburg, it’s an obvious choice for music-lovers who want to experience a quintessential Brooklyn venue. And they even serve a slew of Brooklyn Brewery beers on tap.
Music Hall of Williamsburg
This is a more traditional venue that is the primary outpost for Bowery Presents, which also puts on shows at Bowery Ballroom and other famous concert halls in Manhattan. It’s a large venue with multiple levels, balcony seating and a plush basement with its own bar and gigantic screens where you can watch the show if you don’t want to get bumped into by another rowdy concert-goer. You can find a lot of better-known bands performing here — but check the schedule far in advance as tickets do tend to sell out early.