Music venues: where to go from big to small

If you’re a fan of rock—or metal, hip-hop, folk, soul, you name it—then you’ve definitely come to the right borough. There are tons of places to see live music in Brooklyn, from big-ticket stadiums to tiny, sweaty bars. Williamsburg alone, with its vibrant indie-rock scene, is home to more concert spots than many cities five times its size. What follows is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of music venues Kings County has to offer, in handy size order.


Barclays Center (Prospect Heights)
Capacity: 19,000
In a nutshell: This ginormous stadium is the home court for the Brooklyn Nets, sure. But since opening in 2012, it’s also been the place to see the biggest acts that come through town. Heck, it even hosted the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.


Belle and Sebastian at Bandshell, 2013

Prospect Park Bandshell (Park Slope)
Capacity: 5,000
In a nutshell: Each summer BRIC Arts Media hosts Celebrate Brooklyn!, an outdoor performing-arts fest, in Brooklyn’s largest park. It’s one of the most pleasant places in the city to catch a concert, and if that wasn’t enough, many of the shows are free (with a $3 suggested donation).


The stage and the lanes at Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Bowl (Williamsburg)
Capacity: 600
In a nutshell: It’s a bowling alley! It’s a bar! It’s a concert venue! There’s no shortage of things to do at this converted warehouse, where you can knock down a few pins or check out local and touring bands and DJs.


tigers-jaw-music-hall-of-williamsburg-brooklyn-sean-o-kane-photographyTigers Jaw at Music Hall of Williamsburg | via Sean O’Kane Photography

Music Hall of Williamsburg (Williamsburg)
Capacity: 550
In a nutshell: This venue, booked by juggernaut Bowery Presents, is the place to catch touring acts one fame notch below the ones that fill the Barclays Center—primarily indie-rock types, with some variety on either end.


the-bell-house-music-gowanus-brooklyn-sam-horineFull house at The Bell House | via Same Horine

The Bell House (Gowanus)
Capacity: 350
In a nutshell: Situated in up-and-coming neighborhood Gowanus on an otherwise desolate street, the Bell House hosts a wide variety of cool acts, from indie bands and singer-songwriters to comedians and storytelling shows. The vibe is relaxed, and there’s barbecue sandwiches to be had if you’re hungry.


Marissa-Nadler-saint-vitus-bar-greenpoint-music-brooklynMarissa Nadler at Saint Vitus | via Facebook

Saint Vitus (Greenpoint)
Capacity: 350
In a nutshell: Opened in 2011, this Greenpoint bar caters to a very specific type of crowd: metalheads. Come here to head-bang your heart out to rumbling guitars and screaming frontmen with a pint of craft beer in hand — this is still Brooklyn, after all.


Titus-glasslands-gallery-williamsburg-music-brooklynTitus | via Glasslands Gallery

Glasslands Gallery (Williamsburg)
Capacity: 275
In a nutshell: If you’re looking for a quintessentially Brooklyn music experience, this is the place for you. The decor in this converted waterfront warehouse is funky, and it’s an inexpensive place to see on-the-rise indie and electro outfits before they hit it big.


rough-trade-nyc-magazine-balcony-williamsburg-brooklyn-musicRough Trade NYC record section | David B. via Yelp

Rough Trade NYC (Williamsburg)
Capacity: 250
In a nutshell: Legendary London record store Rough Trade opened a Brooklyn outpost last year, and it’s as much a concert venue as it is a vinyl shop. Bowery Presents books the acts here, a mixture of big names playing small gigs and up-and-comers.



The Rock Shop (Park Slope)
Capacity: 125
In a nutshell: Opened in 2010, this intimate space on the fringes of posh Park Slope has a decidedly un–Park Slope feel. Shows won’t set you back too much, and are satisfyingly loud and rock-y. You can also order upscale pub grub here if you’re hungry, and hang out on an airy roof deck between sets.


death-by-audio-williamsburg-music-brooklynDeath by Audio | Steve F. via Foursquare

Death by Audio (Williamsburg)
Capacity: 110
In a nutshell: This all-ages basement spot is about underground as you can get without being secret. It’s small, dingy and wallet-friendly, just as a venue committed to the punk-DIY ethos should be. Those afraid to get sweaty need not apply.


sunnys-bar-red-hook-musicSunny | Tom Callan via Sunny’s Bar

Sunny’s Bar (Red Hook)
Capacity: Itty-bitty
In a nutshell: A true honky-tonk, this waterside bar has been a fixture in far-west neighborhood Red Hook since 1890. The vibe is quirky and nautical, the beer is cheap, and the live music is a colorful mix of bluegrass, jazz and roots by local masters. The best part? No cover, ever.


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