As you may or may not already know, music is a passion of mine and plays an enormous role in my life. Whether it’s performing with a band, or jamming out to the classics of legendary musicians, there is nothing more invigorating than hearing and being around live music. The crowd moves you as they shout, dance, and rock out to the sound you create with your instrument of choice. It’s nothing less of extraordinary. Sometimes though, life, work, and wedding planning can make it a little difficult to keep up with playing as much as I’d like to. That’s why I try to see live music whenever I can.

live concert

As the old saying goes, if life throws you lemons, you make lemonade. But where can you go to experience great live music?

As one of the world’s capitals, New York City is definitely a good place to start. If you’re in NYC or its greater metro area, check out some of these live music venues if you’re looking to satisfy your music fix. Here are some great smaller venues you may not have heard of, rather than the more popular mega halls that exist in and make NYC so popular.

The Rockwood Music Hall – Lower East Side, Manhattan

The Rockwood Music Hall is known for its small, intimate spacing and awesome live music events. Not many places in NYC offer the chance to see up and coming bands for free, or at most, for a nominal charge. It can fit about 300+ people, so make an effort to be there early to guarantee a good spot. Nevertheless, it’s a totally affordable venue showcasing great live bands, acoustics, and an overall laid back atmosphere.

Cake Shop – Lower East Side, Manhattan

Cake Shop is a rustic dive bar vibe whose decor lets those there for a show know that this isn’t a typical space. As its name suggests, it also serves pastries, cake, and other sweets for all to enjoy. The venue has multiple floors, which allows you to get away from some of the commotion you’ll find when live bands are playing in the basement, which fills up quickly. On Tuesday’s, they hold comedy night, so if you’re looking for other entertainment during the week besides live music, this is the place to be!

Pete’s Candy Store – Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Bring your own candy, because unlike the name suggests, there is no candy at this venue. What Pete’s does offer is an extremely intimate and friendly ambiance that is unusual for a New York City venue. Divided into 3 sections–the bar, showroom, and outdoor patio area–it boasts a super relaxed atmosphere and a decently priced drink menu. The live music is merely an added bonus to all that Pete’s offers.

Bowery Ballroom – Lower East Side, Manhattan

Bowery Ballroom has an optimal spatial setup, allowing its patrons to see the stage from every angle possible. Unlike a few of the other venues found on this list, the lighting and stage are bright enough to give you that true concert ambiance. The acoustic are unbeatable, and ultimately, the star of the show. With multiple floors and a great selection of drinks, the Bowery Ballroom is definitely a venue you’ll be happy to visit.

Brooklyn Bowl – Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The biggest of the small venues, Brooklyn Bowl boasts a music space, bar, dining area, and bowling alley. With the space to hold 600 patrons, this is an incredible venue to see a show…or eat some delicious snacks…or knock over a couple pins. Offering a great beer selection thanks to its not-so-far and famous neighbor, the Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Bowl is also known for its legendary food selection ranging from fried chicken to pigs in a blanket. While it might seem like the perfect place to get crazy, think again! They’ve got strict security. Otherwise, a great way to hang with a group of friends, take in some live music, with bowling and beer to boot!