Where to see music

Madison Square Garden

© Rock 'n' roll travel / William David Wilson

Madison Square Garden is often billed as “the world’s most famous arena” and has been a premier New York venue for sports and entertainment since opening in 1968.

Not only does the Garden host the home fixtures of local ice hockey heroes the New York Rangers and the city’s NBA basketball representatives the New York Knicks, it also finds itself welcoming the great and the good of the rock ‘n’ roll world.

The list of major bands who have played here in the past is exhaustive. Just expect almost all of them to stop here on their world tours, as U2, Foo Fighters and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers all did in 2011. Indie heroes The Arcade Fire also played an acclaimed two-night stand here in 2010.

All in all, the imposing Madison Square Garden is a great venue for ambitious live shows.

Location: Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York City, New York 10001

Website: www.thegarden.com


Knitting FactoryCreative Commons / Knitting Factory

The Knitting Factory has been a key venue for experimental rock and jazz since it first opened its doors in the late 1980s.

The Factory is actually in its third different New York location, having initially opened back in 1987 on Houston Street, before its growth saw it relocate to the hip Tribeca area in 1994 before the summer 2009 move to Williamsburg.

Over the years its operation has grown into Knitting Factory Entertainment, encompassing four clubs, several record labels and other ventures.

The factory’s other venues besides the one in Brooklyn are in Boise, Reno, and Spokane, and the renowned venue is not only committed to showcasing experimental music but also performing arts and comedy.

The likes of Sonic Youth, Gil Scott Heron and Yo La Tengo have graced the stage inside the incredibly hip club in the past.

The Knitting Factory is a great venue to see an up-and-coming band or have a taste for the avant-garde.

Location: 361 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City 11211

Website: www.knittingfactory.com


Irving Plaza

Creative Commons / Beyond My Ken

Though the historic Irving Plaza has found itself under many different names and incarnations in recent times, whatever it’s name has been it has remained a great venue to see live music.

The 1,200-capacity ballroom has been a home to Polish War Veterans and church services, but is primarily known for hosting great bands and artists.

New York rock scene mainstays The Ramones and Talking Heads played there regularly when gigging in their home city in the late 1970s and 1980s, and British punk rockers The Clash were regulars at the Plaza too.

The venue books a real variety of bands and artists each year, ranging from indie-rockers just starting out to golden oldies on their reunion or comeback tours.

Worth checking out if you have a bit of time to spare in Manhattan.

Location: 17 Irving Plaza, New York City, New York, USA 10003

Website: www.irvingplaza.com


Café Wha?Creative Commons / Brian Lauer

Café Wha? has been at the heart of the Greenwich Village music scene since it opened in the 1950s.

The historic venue was one of the early stomping grounds of American greats Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen.

In the 1960s, with Greenwich Village heavily immersed in the folk scene, Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary were among the many folkies to take to the venue’s stage and showcase their talents.

The Velvet Underground also appeared here, their noisy, avant-garde rock appealing to the local Village hipsters.

Cafe Wha? also built itself a reputation for being a home of cutting-edge comedy, with the legendary Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor starting out their careers at the venue.

So not surprisingly the cafe became a cool place to hang out as well, with Beatniks like Allen Ginsberg regularly spotted sipping cocktails and downing beers back in the day, and in more recent years film director Quentin Tarantino has been among those to take in the unique atmosphere.

Understandably, the Café Wha? is proud of its connection to the Beat Generation and continues to hold tight to its free-spirited ethos.

Café Wha? is still going strong and its three house bands continue to entertain the many visitors. A must visit cafe if you find yourself in The Village.

Location: 115 Macdougal Street, New York City, New York, USA 10012

Website: www.cafewha.com


 Apollo© Rock 'n' roll travel / William David Wilson

The Apollo is one of the most famous and storied music halls in the United States.

The Harlem, New York venue is a listed building, and was the home of the long-running Showtime at the Apollo, a national TV variety show showcasing new talent, almost exclusively African-American.

The Theatre and its alumni are a source of great pride for many in the Harlem community.

Billing itself as a place “where stars are born and legends are made,” The Apollo played a key role in launching the careers of artists as diverse and important as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Ben E. King.

Jimi Hendrix won an amateur night competition here in 1964, and rock ‘n’ roll – as well as soul, funk, jazz and pop – has always been welcome here.

After falling into disrepair throughout the 1980s and 1990s, The Apollo re-emerged in 2005 after much needed renovations and a major refurbishment.

Put simply, it is is one of the world’s very best music venues and has arguably made a bigger dent on popular culture than any other theatre of its kind. Go and see it for yourself.

Location: 253 West 125th Street, Harlem, New York City, New York, USA 10027

Website: www.apollotheater.org