Best Places to See Live Music in Williamsburg

Where to hear the big names and rising stars in Brooklyn’s music capital

live music williamsburg brooklyn

The Brooklyn indie music scene has produced some phenomenal acts over the years. Bands like MGMT, The National, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ocassionally return to play the type of small venues around Williamsburg where they got their start. The neighborhood has recently seen the closure of some of its rocking D.I.Y music spaces (like Glasslands Gallery and Death by Audio). However, you still have the chance to see a show at one of of these holdout intimate “it”-venues. Even if a big name is not on the lineup, you may catch a rising star.

Union Pool: This time-honored, friendly hipster bar draws in locals for its patio seating, taco truck, and lineup of emerging and A-list indie and punk-inspired bands. See the full review here.  (484 Union Ave., Brooklyn; 718-609-0484; L subway to Lorimer St. or G to Metropolitan; Website: union-pool.com.)

Music Hall of Williamsburg: Behind the retro marquee of an old movie theater, you’ll find this top-notch venue with an exceptional sound system and a steady stream of the biggest names in indie music. The medium-sized venue has three levels, but retains an intimate feel because you are never very far from the stage. (66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn; 718-486-5400,  L subway to Bedford Ave.; Website: musichallofwilliamsburg.com)

Baby’s All Right: This bar, with retro styling like a 70s rec-room, has a sleek showspace with great live sets from hot indie, electronic, and hip hop bands, as well as music festivals and dj nights. Also on hand, a full kitchen serving up decent bar food and an excellent brunch. (146 Broadway, Brooklyn; 718-302-1180; Website: babysallright.com

The Knitting Factory: A transplant from Manhattan, this place has quickly become a local hotspot for diehard gig-goers. A small-to-medium-sized venue with a separate bar/seating area. The musical lineup runs the gamut from alternative to metal to hip hop. (361 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn; 347-529-6696; L subway to Bedford Ave. or J/M subway to Marcy Ave.; Website: bk.knittingfactory.com)

Brooklyn Bowl:  (See our full review of Brooklyn Bowl here.) A unique entertainment space in which you can see a band and bowl at the same time. They book some great bands here: from indie, hip hop, and funk to cover bands and dj dance parties. Check the website before you go. (61 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn; 718-963-3369; L subway to Bedford Ave.; Website: brooklynbowl.com

Pete’s Candy Store:  A cozy neighborhood bar with a performance space in the back. This place is brimming with vintage charm: notable in the candy store facade, wooden cafe tables, and patterned wallpaper. They host local bands of mixed genres, open mic, poetry readings, and trivia nights. Located near McCarren Park. (709 Lorimer St., Brooklyn; 718-302-3770; L subway to Lorimer St. or Bedford Ave.; Website: petescandystore.com)

Saint Vitus Bar: Fans of the metal genres (black, death, thrash, etc.) should head to nearby Greenpoint and seek out this small venue that has quickly become an epicenter of the international metal scene. The bookers pull in all the demon-worthy acts, as well as a spirited (often bearded) crowd. 1120 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn; Subway: G to Greenpoint Ave.; Website: saintvitusbar.com.

For alternatives to the indie-music scene (and all the genres mentioned above), try:

Cubana Social: A casual and friendly Cuban restaurant with 1940s-style charm, Cubana Social turns up the heat at night with live music sets of jazz, salsa, and Afro-Cuban. (70 N. 6th St., Brooklyn; 718-782-3334; L subway to Bedford Ave.; Website: www.cubanasocial.com). Currently under construction.

Fada: This French bistro serves up traditional Provencal dishes and live sets of jazz, French, and World music. (530 Driggs Ave.; Brooklyn; 718-388-6607; L subway to Bedford Ave.; Website: www.fadany.com.)

Photo and text by Vanessa Ray, all rights reserved, you may not reuse this contest without permisson .