A Guide to the Best Live Music Bars in New York

Guest post by lloyd John

Head to Brooklyn and you’ll find a thriving live music scene in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighbourhoods. If you like your rock ‘n’ roll live and in-your-face, here are some of the best venues to check out:

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Public Assembly

A multi-room art, music and burlesque venue built in the shell of a former mayonnaise factory, it has bags of industrial-style space, two stages and an incredible sound system. Public Assembly plays host to a variety of new and established bands, private parties and rap battles. Drinks are cheap but it does get crowded so expect to queue.


Enid’s was the venue where The Fiery Furnaces made their debut and it remains top of the hipster charts, although it now concentrates as much on food as music. Serving up a mean brunch and a fantastic Bloody Mary, evenings get back to music with an impressive DJs including Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello.

Rock Star Bar

If your idea of a good night out is a seedy, former strip club dive bar, then head down to Rock Star Bar. Revel in the music from every genre you can imagine, including punk, reggae, rockabilly, rave and drum and bass. Drinks are cheap and served in plastic cups and the atmosphere is grungy-fun. So there’s actually a lot of room to be economical in New York, despite the rumours, though deciding to compare flights online to New York can be a big help in expanding your partying budget.


Pay the $5 entrance fee and you’re in a rock and roll wonderland, where car seats replace sofas and a kitsch collection of ephemera decorates the walls.

The Trash bar in Brooklyn, NYC
The Trash bar in Brooklyn, NYC

The emphasis is on the music and Trash is famous for being the starting point for bands like The Scissor Sisters and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. A quality sound system, cheap beer and a diverse juke box will keep you entertained.

Union Pool

One of the main draws of this venue, apart from the music itself, is the patio complete with one of Brooklyn’s best taco trucks. Inside local, national and international bands play 365 days of the year and Union Pool prides itself on promoting a welcoming community atmosphere. Cheap drinks and good times are guaranteed.

Don Pedro’s

Blurring the line between tacos and music, Don Pedro’s hosts live shows from breakthrough acts every night. Tucked away in an obscure corner of Brooklyn, it’s worth seeking Don Pedro’s out for the vibe and the sheer range of live bands. Free entry on selected nights make it great value, as do the great food, drinks deals and happy hour specials.

The Glasslands

This is located in a post-industrial area of Brooklyn which now oozes aesthetic gentrification and draws in the hipster crowd to watch eclectic local bands in this psychedelic space. A fast bar service and great food draws the crowds into this intimate venue.

Pete’s Candy Store

Live music every night is the promise and Pete’s Candy Store blends the best new music with comedy and quiz nights. The venue is best suited to acoustic or solo performers and really lets the audience be part of the experience.

The Warsaw

A Polish community centre and a live music venue may not be the most natural combination, but The Warsaw is celebrated for its musical legacy as well as for its European heritage. Patti Smith played here under the glitterball and probably ate some of the amazing Polish food on offer. What else do you need to know?


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