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Music venues are as big a staple to the Big Apple as street side hot dogs, while they might seem a little sketchy around the edges, they ultimately satisfy your craving with that first big, juicy bite.

Some say that after rock mecca CBGB closed it’s doors in 2006, New York lost one of its most intimate musical institutions, ripe with history since the doors first opened in 1973. Now that Death by Audio, Glasslands, and even the iconic Roseland Ballroom have closed their doors, are we left to simply rhapsodize about these disappearing meccas of music, or do we search for more?

More new venues shaping the industry, fighting for the little guy, and putting unique, robust musicians on the stage.

After some research, both in and off the field, I’ve collected a list of some of the most important venues of today found in different boroughs of New York City today, impacting the industry in the best ways.

Rock concert

Cake Shop

Looking for a little sweetness with your dark-lit basement rock show? Head over to Cake Shop in the Lower East Side, a club that deceives with an innocent upstairs operating as a sweets and record shop with a very DIY feel in terms of decor. But head downstairs, to their dark, dingy, yet exciting space that quenches your thirst for good drinks and an assortment of great performances from garage rock to poetry jams.

Baby’s All Right

While Williamsburg now undoubtedly sits on the “out” list as far as trendy neighborhoods go, this music venue definitely is not. New York Magazine called the eclectic and stylish Brooklyn bar-lounge the “coolest indie-rock club to open this year” in 2013. Predominately boasting a myriad of local talent, it’s also become an ideal pitstop for any band passing through town.


Catering to the off-kilter side of New York City, Babycastles operates as both an art gallery and performance space and is founded by video game promoted Kunal Gupta and run by DIY arcade game creators (sound ridiculous? Check out this great New York Times article about the space). While it doesn’t always play host to musicians, when it does, it shouldn’t be missed. Past performances included an exhibition focusing on NYC’s underground and featuring Harlem hip-hoppers Raking.