Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side is far and away my most favorite music venue. The acts are always high caliber and you can always find a show without a cover. Always.
There are 4 stages. Stage 1 is the smallest, no drink minimum if you avoid the tables, full service bar. Being small in no way diminishes the quality of the acts. These aren’t second string performers. I’ve yet to hear a mediocre show on Stage 1. I would inundate you with video if I could.
Stage 2 is the largest with an upstairs balcony. The 2 drink minimum applies upstairs with the all table service. Same for the table service if it’s downstairs. Basically all the tables everywhere have a 2 drink min. so I don’t sit at the tables. There’s always a stool somewhere! Here a wandering waitperson might or might not take your 1 drink min. order if you don’t hit the bar yourself.
When there isn’t a cover for Stages 1 & 2, they usually pass the bucket for the band. Tip as generously as you can. The place is already a bargain.
Sting guested on Stage 2 a few months ago… I’m not immune from FOMO even here.
Stage 3 is on the lower level and has nothing but table seating. Although I’ve never seen a show at this stage without a cover, those tend to be in the $10 range. The acts in this room are more mellow for the more intimate space. I thought I didn’t really dig jazz until I heard Now vs Now‘s electronic take on it. Now I know electronic jazz. ::insert Keanu Reeves meme here::
The 4th stage might’ve had performances in it at some point in its lifetime, but it’s usually where you can go drink (blackout) and converse (make out) without disrupting a show.
Rockwood does that lovely thing where they provide a free water cooler at the bar. No need to make a pest of yourself with the bartenders. Since I tend to compulsively drink whatever’s put in my hand, having access to free water helps me slow my roll.
I rave about Rockwood all the damn time because if you’re looking for a solid no-cover music venue with reasonably priced drinks, there’s always something excellent going on. Every time I come for one show, I leave with yet another band that I must follow until the End of Days. I know… poor me.