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Spoon at Mercury Lounge

You’re looking for something cool to do. Maybe you want to tread off the quintessential-yet-beaten path connecting Times Square, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. Maybe you’re craving a bit of grunge, some rough-around-the-edges fun. If you’re searching for an ‘authentic’ New York music experience, come join the locals for a show at Mercury Lounge.

One of the top venues for small concerts in NYC, indie bands flock to Mercury Lounge to perform their buzzed about albums to young, hip, local crowds. The small Lower East Side theater is designed for intimate shows with a capacity for only about 250 people. People go for great acoustics, the lively dance floor, cool lighting and a bill consistently featuring emerging acts.

The venue was once a home for the Astor Mansion’s servants, a restaurant, and then a tombstone store for about 90 years (so punk rock), all before converting into a venue in 1993. A successful club for seven years, Mercury Lounge rose to indie-fame in 2000 when The Strokes got their start there performing a series of shows that scored them a national tour. Ever since, musicians (and staff) have been flocking to Mercury Lounge to try their chances at rock stardom. Since opening, a number of famous names have played there including Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Bikini Kill, the Damnwells, Jeff Buckley, Jimmy Chamberlin, Paper Route, Interpol, Tony Bennett, the Dandy Warhols, Broken Social Scene, the Killers, and the Editors.

Imagine yourself a few feet away from the stage, surrounded by a well-heeled hipster crowd intent on dancing, moshing, or shoe-gazing the night away (whatever that particular sound calls for). The band has likely adjusted a few of their songs to fit the tight-knit setting. On a weekend night, a DJ will follow the bands and people will stay to dance. For an unforgettable, authentic New York experience, definitely fit a night at Mercury Lounge into your itinerary.

Know before you go: bring cash (there’s a $20 card minimum and no ATM) and arrive early if you want to score one of the limited seats along the sides of the dance floor.

image via flickr