Zoom out to see more garage, punk & soul-friendly venues in NJ and CT.
For an up-to-date list of shows, check out our garage punk shows calendar
The Creek (& the Cave)
209 4th Ave
Asbury Park, NJ
train service from Manhattan / or a nice drive...
One of our favorite venues, located a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from NYC, this old school bowling alley features a great stage sitting in the middle of the alley on top of 4 or 5 lanes. Bowling continues during shows, while surprisingly, the sound is excellent. Staff are generally friendly and amenable to out of town bands.
The downside? Politics (too complicated to go into here) have lead to many NYC area bands refusing to play at the venue; others refuse due to the difficulty in attracting a local crowd. Even bands with a national reputation (Dirtbombs) draw fewer than 50 people at times. It seems the most successful shows at this venue feature either local bands, metal or hardcore. And there is no backline that we're aware of.
On the plus side, it's only 2 blocks from the ocean and the boardwalk.
This venue is now called Lake Johnson.
This venue doesn't host bands but features a number of regular dj nights of interest to garage/punk/soul fans. Jonathan Toubin's New York Night Train runs a soul party on Thursday nights, while the ever popular Smashed! Blocked! Mod/Garage party hosted by Josh Styles is here every first Friday of the month.
The bar's gimmick (there is a sister venue on the West Coast too) is manicures & martinis (if we may coin a phrase) and is quite popular with the NYU crowd (especially the girls and douchier/creepy men who follow them around). Not the cheapest bar either (at least after happy hour), still the backroom gets packed with people actually dancing on a good night.
BROOKLYN MASONIC TEMPLE
317 Clermont Ave #4
subway: G or C to Clinton-Washington
Don't know much about this venue although sometimes it gets used for shows... any info, contact us!
A cafe, record shop (barely-- record shopping here is NOT recommended) and basement live music venue in the heart of the L.E.S. Frequently hosts garage and especially punk bands. Owners are helpful, staff and bartenders good (make sure to tip them even if you've got drink tickets) and the door/cover policy is better than average for Manhattan. Cake Shop hosts a regular (monthly?) night called Midnite Til Death which features local punk and some garage bands plus djs. Sometimes Manhattanites simply pay cover to come down and hang out, but not as much as some venues... other nights seem to be very dead-- overall hit-and-miss with the crowd numbers.
Downside: some think the sound is bad; we'd rate it as average. This rather unique basement live venue slopes downward towards the low stage, making it virtually impossible to see the bands from the back of the room (especially if you're under 6'2"). The place also has a limited backline... some drums and maybe an amp? Capacity has to be somewhere around 125 or so. On the plus side the long and narrow shape of the room can make an under-attended show feel... not that under-attended.
174 Bedford Ave @ N 7th St.
subway: L - Bedford Ave
Situated right in the nexus of hipster hell (and one of the highest rent commercial strips in north brooklyn) in williamsburg, this place has modeled itself on the Alligator/Crocodile franchise with its free pizza with purchase of drink ploy... like its counterpart on Metropolitan Ave, the Charleston features live bands in a backroom (OK, it's the basement!) None of us have ever dealt with the staff or owners of this place so we can't vouch for trustworthiness or the door policy.
The downside (here's what we DO know about this place): the owners often double-book the downstairs "accidentally" leaving one show to wait until the other clears. The venue has no backline (aside possibly from a pair of speakers & a microphone?) or stage per se and the basement is made of concrete. in other words, you're standing on a gray concrete floor, it smells like shitty pizza (some people's idea of a good time admittedly)... and it's a dingy basement with low ceilings. Capacity would be around 50-60 we'd guess (IF this space even has a legal capacity), which seems doubtful... not for the claustrophobic!). You'll also need to provide your own doorguy if you book a show here. Still, it has hosted a number of good bills mostly with punk bands and some events planned by Radio Heartbeat.
THE CREEK (formerly The Creek and the Cave)
1093 Jackson Ave
Long Island City/Queens/NYC 11101
subway: G to 21st St/ 7 to Vernon/Jackson
This venue has been pretty sporadic with events of garage/punk/soul interest, but it's worth including (barely). Located within a short walk of Greenpoint or just across the river from Manhattan, it's a sprawling place with a venue, restaurant and (sometimes) 2 bars. Ground floor has a Mexican restaurant (mixed reviews) and the venue; downstairs are another bar and a lounge area (where there are frequently turntables setup). Also there's a huge outdoor area with benches & tables (sometimes a second bar).
Venue-wise, it's around average, maybe a little subpar. We admit we haven't seen a show there since the summer of '07, but that was right after a major renovation to the room, which brought more space but somehow significantly worse sound. We believe you need your own door guy here, and we have no experience with door policy or dealing with the owners. Also not sure what if any backline exists. On the plus side, it's probably VERY easy to book a gig here (bands or djs). Note that the DJs would have to bring their own equipment to be in the venue area as normally the DJs are located in a lower room (where there are turntables?). The crowd at this place is a little strange too; very different from hipster haven Greenpoint it's got a slightly Long Island-ish bent to it.
49 S. 2nd St @ Kent Ave
subway: JMZ - Marcy Ave, L - Bedford (long walk)
Situated just around the corner from Glasslands, this place is frequently home to shows booked by Todd P, a controversial figure within the garage/punk world of NYC (no need for us to comment further). There have been some shows of interest to punk fans (not so much the garage). We believe it to be one of these "we live here, we put on shows here" deals but we're not sure as we've never been there!
90 Manhattan Ave @ McKibbin
subway: JM - Lorimer St, G - Broadway, L - Montrose
One of the most interesting venues in Brooklyn, this part-time restaurant (Ecuadoran food in the day, Mexican food during shows) has become one of the premiere garage rock & punk venues in NYC for the past few years, when it debuted with shows featuring King Khan/BBQ Show and the Black Lips.
Crypt Records' Tim Warren convinced the owner of this venue to put on garage rock shows in his main room sometime during 2006 and it was quickly picked up thereafter by Todd P (a promoter of mostly experimental/indie/eccentric type music) for a time as his venue of choice. Pedro rapidly got a reputation for awful sound, a dark and impossible-to-see stage, lax observation of various laws, and a tendency for shows to drag on until the early morning hours ... Of course, it was a hit!
Most of these aspects have changed drastically-- the sound improved greatly (although still suffers from some issues and is average for the area), a new stage was built with decent lighting and an employee was fired who was responsible for much of the "lawbreaking" (find your gossip elsewhere!) although shows still tend to start late and end even later.
The venue has a partial backline-- bits of various drumkits (although not a complete one), 2-3 microphones & stands. Recently the venue purchased two turntables and a mixer. One downside to this venue is its location-- while technically in Williamsburg, it's closer to Bushwick and a number of housing projects than the high hipster area of Bedford Ave; there have been occasional shootings in the area and bands are advised to park their vehicles on the main (well-lit) streets as there is a lot of car theft in the area.
On the plus side the owner and staff are extremely friendly-- most of the bartenders & barbacks are old hands at the garage & punk scene and the owner is very enthusiastic about the rock shows which have revived the fortunes of his establishment. Crypt Records' HQ and store is only a block away which is a bonus. The door policy is also extremely good (one of the best in NYC); and usually the venue does provide a doorperson. Overall, one of our favorite venues for garage and punk rock.
98 Meserole Ave @ Manhattan Ave
subway: G - Greenpoint Ave, L - Bedford (+B61bus)
Here's an odd one. Situated in still very Polish Greenpoint, it's mostly a nightclub on the weekends for the local yokels hustling away to their Euro-doonce-doonce-doonce... Still there are some band shows, in the night mostly on weekdays and occasionally on weekends (sometimes the rock shows end early so the techno can begin!)
The main venue area is upstairs from ground floor and has a capacity of probably 300-400. It's recently been redone to look even more like a porny Central European sleaze fest and now features both a laser light system and a smoke machine. The sound here, when operated by the right soundguy, is FANTASTIC. Probably the best sound we've heard in Brooklyn.
The downsides: the scary bouncers, the ice-princess bartendresses, the high priced drinks, the terrible door policy (they take more than the Mercury Lounge!), the location-- even though it's been here for years, most hipsters in Greenpoint never come here, and on and on. It can be a great venue to SEE a show, but you probably don't want to DO a show here unless you get a good deal from the bar.
One day some enterprising Polish guy will remake this place into a Bowery/Mercury Lounge type place and the hipsters of Greenpoint will join hands and sing the latest indie rock single hyped to death on Pitchfork and promptly flood the place with lame music. Until then... Europa (along with Studio B) will be everybody's favorite "is this a front for the Polish mafia or something?" venue.
105 Eldridge St.
subway: F, JMZ - Essex/Delancey, B,D - Grand St.
This large bar finds itself incongruously in the northern corner of Chinatown. It has 3 bars, 2 upstairs and one below in the live music room. The live music area has great sound, capacity is probably around 100-150 down there.
Upstairs it's a bit upscale, drinks aren't cheap and the local crowd frequently involves a lot of out of towners plus NYU students, kiddos on iphones and blackberries and lots of polo shirts. Subway Soul finds itself in the middle of all this but is likely to move in the near future due to the obvious mismatch between the night and the crowd.
289 Kent Ave @ S. 2nd St.
subway: JMZ - Marcy Ave, L - Bedford Ave (long walk)
Not sure of the genesis of this place although it seems to have been started as a live-in gallery a couple of years ago. 2008 saw their liquor license finally approved and so it qualifies as a regular venue now. All the involved managers/owners of this place are involved in bands.
A lot of money and has been invested in this location since we first visited; there's now a super loud sound system, light show, etc. Sadly they didn't find a way to reduce the lines for the bathrooms, which can be epic during popular nights.
The venue has a backline which is apparently pretty good. The sound is pretty average overall though-- there always seems to be an issue with the level of the vocals. The venue features a lot of punk bands and occasional garage bands; Jonathan Toubin runs a (semi-regular) soul dj night called Soul Clap with a dance contest (and prize money) there. No idea on what the venue takes from the door. Due to run-ins with the law, they have professional ID-checkers at the door (a phenomenon more familiar to Manhattanites than Brooklyners). We think all shows are now 21+.
Glasslands has become an extremely popular venue after having been featured in countless magazines and websites-- it also hosts a lot of experiental & indie rock shows which help raise its profile with NYU and Manhattan kiddos (who are often half of a crowd on any given night). This place is probably the most fashionably dressed-up venue on our list in Brooklyn (and possibly the most on the whole list)-- so break out your $200+ vintage threads if you're heading there and make sure to dance in an "angular" way.
Just kidding... sort of.
588 Grand St. @ Lorimer St.
subway: L - Lorimer St., G- Metropolitan Ave, JM - Lorimer St.
This new upscale bar on the outer edge of hipster Brooklyn has DJs every night of the week and features a soul night once a month with scene stalwart Jumpy. The bar serves pricey but very good food and both beer and liquor are quite expensive ($10 for a whiskey, anybody?).
That said, the sound is good and people WILL dance to good music.
225 N. 8th St @ Roebling St.
subway: L - Bedford Ave, G - Nassau
Another hipster bar in the heart of Williamsburg. There have been occasional power pop dj nights (even a band or two) but the main recurring dj night here is Dylan "Otto" Bahn & Miss January 1963's 60's/70's rock DJ night.
Drinks are average (i.e. expensive) due to the location. The bar is dark and usually has the bigscreen going with weird flicks. Not a bad bar but go on a random night and you might run into a boring indie rock crowd.
This interesting art space / venue / commune? has been in existence for at least 5 years. It's evolved over the years due to management changes and now finds itself booking more shows.
You walk up a steep staircase to a door where you'll be greeted by an ID taker. Venue is NOT BYOB; they have a small bar. The space has one main live room, with a 50-60 person capacity (small). Sound has always been a bit dodgy but it has improved over the years.
The venue recently renamed itself; it was called Asterisk previously.
Don't know the details of the booking policy here or if there's any backline.
162 Ave B @ E. 10th St.
subway: L - 1st Ave.
This small venue has been hosting garage bands, surf groups & cover acts for a long time now. If you've walked around in this neighborhood on a weekend night you've probably noticed this place due to the fact that the stage area is visible from the street.
It's probably relatively easy to book a garage band into this venue; we've never tried so no information there... the only thing to say is that capacity of the live room is probably less than 50.
LAMP POST BAR (& Grill)
382 2nd St. @ Brunswick St.
Jersey City, NJ 07032
PATH: 6 block walk from Grove St. stop
Waiting for more info on this venue; there are some DJ nights of interest...
790 Metropolitan Ave @ Humboldt St.
subway: L - Graham Ave / Grand St., G - Metropolitan Ave
This relatively new bar has had a few dj nights of interest recently including some by Josh Styles and Phast Phreddie. It's a pretty standard Williamsburg hipster bar with dark-dark lighting and pricey liquor. It's become pretty popular on the weekends, although the crowd might not be attuned to garage/punk particularly.
93 2nd Ave. @ E. 6th St.
subway: L - 1st or 3rd Ave, F/V - 2nd Ave.
This basement live music venue seems to have declined in popularity for shows since a peak three or four years ago. It was never really a garage / punk venue, more of a indie rock place.
The downstairs area has a cave-like feel to it with nooks for people to sit in and a "back lounge" (sometimes green room for bands). Soundguy is more than competent but the place has a reputation for ejecting anyone who's "rowdy" and has large bouncers to back it up. Bartenders aren't the friendliest and the drinks aren't the strongest. That said the stage is decent and the space near the stage probably accomodates 60-75 people pretty easily.
We believe there are some drums (no cymbal/hihat stands?) in the backline but plenty of microphones and stands, plus turntables towards the back. The place has its own roster of "DJs" for the weekends-- they start at midnight and there's no replacing them-- once they start, streams of NYU kiddies come pouring in to listen to common 80's hits from a laptop apparently on shuffle... so unless that's your thing (and if it is, why are you reading this), you'd best beat it.
LOST & FOUND (CLOSED!)
113 Franklin St. @ Greenpoint Ave.
subway: G - Greenpoint Ave, L - Bedford (+ B61 Bus)
UPDATE: Lost & Found has CLOSED permanently. Word on the street has it that this place will be relaunched as a Alligator/Crocodile Lounge-style Free-Pizza-with-drink place.
This venue has gone through a number of name (and management?) changes in the last couple of years. Despite a cavernous size, interesting games (pool, skeeball, etc) and various gimmicks (on one trip, free po'boys with a drink; on another, 2 for 1 drinks)... it's never really caught on with the local Greenpoint crowd.
That said, it's located in the heart of the new Greenpoint hipster nexus: Franklin St. has become a new Bedford Ave with fancy-dancy cafes, galleries, extremely expensive boutique clothing shops and even a record store (see record store map for more info). Lost & Found is located across the street from the Pencil Factory, a longstanding Greenpoint hangout, around the corner from the more popular Coco 66, and just a few blocks from (club) Europa and Studio B.
There have been shows here of garage/punk interest in the last couple of years but not too many-- the large area above the bar is sometimes curtained off (and a cover collected at the entry) although of course you can hear the bands perfectly well (TOO well as is often the case) from the bar. There's also (quite bizarrely) a towering DJ stand that oversees the entire mess-- almost (Manchester-) Factory-like, it looks like a lot of fun to DJ... if there were people to care. Not particularly recommended as a venue, but bookable nonetheless... NO backline as far as we know (not even microphones?)...
LUCKY CAT (CLOSED!)
245 Grand St. @ Roebling St.
subway: Lorimer L / JMZ - Marcy Ave.
UPDATE: this venue has CLOSED permanently! Word on the street has it it was bought out / taken over by Manhattan's Cake Shop. No word on reopening yet.
This small venue is truly hit or miss as it seems to be trying the classic "throw everything at the wall..." approach. In a previous incarnation a popular hip-hop joint, the front room has a bunch of tables and you can eat (cheap) pizza here in the night (all you can drink brunch on the weekends also apparently). The back room, where the bar, stage and bathrooms sit, probably tops out at 50-60 people. There's been some work done on the soundsystem for this tiny stage but it's still below average at best. There is a DJ stand with turntables (not in great shape but useable). We think there's some backline but not sure how much. We also think you need your own doorguy if you're going to charge cover. Keep in mind this venue does NOT have a regular crowd that we're aware of... unlike many other bars in the area.
Having said that, the place has a
pretty laid back vibe with some decent booth-couches; it's not terribly
expensive (there's usually a cheap beer on offer) and it's apparently
pretty easy to book a gig in here. There's a monthly here called
Greasy! (every last Saturday of the month) with Jumpy and Dylan "Otto"
Bahn that features 1 band and DJs... There have also been Radio
Heartbeat & Stalkers gigs here. The venue is located across the
street from Trash Bar and has a good location so it's easy to get
people from the neighborhood to come out.
99 Ave B. @ E. 6th St.
subway: L - 1st Ave.
establishment merits inclusion if only because it's owned/operated by
Handsome Dick Manitoba, onetime leader of the Dictators. There was a
time bands & DJ nights happened frequently in the basement although
due to complaints (and law suits?) from neighbors, they've been forced
to tone it down and we think there's no more live music here (possibly
557 Manhattan Ave @ Driggs Ave
subway: G - Nassau Ave, L - Bedford Ave (6 Blocks)
This venue, having developed partly from an actual motorcycle repair shop, has become much more popular over the past two years. Sitting on the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint (technically in Greenpoint as it's on the far side of Mccarren Park), it's a great location with tons of walk-by traffic and the popular hipster brunch spot Enid's across the street.
When the venue opened a few years ago, all live music occurred on a tiny stage in the main room across from the bar. Eventually the owners took over the remaining part of the motorcycle shop and installed a live music room, capacity about 100-110. It sits on the far side of the bar and next to a new smoking patio. Unfortunately the location of the live room and its separation from the bar cause a lot of people to miss the fact of its existence. Turntables sit behind the bartenders in the main room (not in the live room) and there are DJs 4 or 5 nights a week. It's never been much of a dance venue due to the floor plan but Tuesdays nights (2 for 1 well drinks & domestics) has become very popular with its 8PM-2AM Soul/R'n'B/Garage DJ night called HOT DOG! (two of the editors of GPNYC DJ this night) . One further piece of good news-- a kitchen is set to open shortly with cheap bar food.
Many garage/punk/soul shows have happened here, including many of the first run of Hullabaloo nights (again, two of us run this night), as well as shows by local Garage & Punk bands such as Anabolics, Big Fun, Brian Wilson Shock Treatment, WLWL and so on. The live room's sound is above average and is run by very capable soundguys, but somehow, due to the acoustics, doesn't end up working that well for garage bands. Another downside of the live room is that the DJing cannot be heard from the other room.
That said, the door policy is pretty good-- you pay the soundguy and bring your own doorguy or pay one of the regulars. The place has a drum kit backline-- I think possibly even including cymbal stands and usually there's one amp plus plenty of microphones & stands. Live music has to be over by midnight at the latest (due to noise complaint problems).
The size of the crowd on weekend nights is pretty good these days with a lot of regulars, but realistically, you'll need to bring the crowd to the venue for a show as drinkers at the bar will have little idea that anything's going on in the back room.
1039 Washington St. @ 10th Ave
Hoboken, NJ 07030
PATH: short cab ride ($5?) from Hoboken stop.
This venue, around since the late 70's, features bigger name garage and punk bands including the Black Lips, Dirtbombs, Pierced Arrows, Reigning Sound, etc. It is run by some of the same people as Southpaw in Brooklyn.
Venue capacity is about 200-300. The sound is pretty good on the whole, but depends on the band. Soundguys are friendly and helpful as is the owner. Bands usually get comped for DINNER at the restaurant which is a huge plus. The door policy takes a lot of money, but the venue also has some built in crowd so overall it's a winning scenario to do a weekend night here although you might want a Jersey band on the bill. There are no drums or amps in the backline though.
217 E. Houston St. (btwn Ludlow & Essex)
subway: F, V - 2nd Ave, F, JMZ - Essex/Delancey
Maybe most (world-)famous as the venue that launched the Strokes, this popular LES venue used to be the cream of the crop when it came to small-ish NYC club shows for garage & punk bands. Lately, due to the ownership of this venue focusing on much larger projects, the quality of the booking has declined... shows aren't booked as far in advance and it's become difficult to deal with them altogether.
That said, it still has a great built-in crowd, the sound is EXCELLENT (one of the best on this entire list) and it's a great place to see a show. Not sure what there is for backline, we're aware that DJing is possible although it's unclear if turntables would be provided by the venue. Not surprisingly, their door policy is more expensive than your average Brooklyn venue, but you're theoretically able to charge more for a ticket (if that's your thing) and get more people to this marquee place. Not sure on capacity but we're guessing 200. By the way (big surprise) drinks ain't cheap.
MOTOR CITY BAR
127 Ludlow St. @ Rivington St.
subway: F/JMZ - Delancey/Essex, F,V - 2nd Ave
This bar in the heart of the lower east side has had a garage/punk rep going back a number of years. These days it's packed with all sorts, many NYU types as well as tourists, and a large regular crowd. No live music here but there are djs almost every night including some regular events by Jonathan Toubin (New York Night Train) among others.
OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD
538 E. 14th St. @ Ave B
subway: L - 1st Ave
This longstanding venue of garage repute features a small backroom for live music as well as djs in the front. The garage crowd isn't here as often as it used to be, now that a psychobilly/rockabilly crowd seems to be more dominent. Still there are monthly surf nights by Unsteady Freddie as well as the Real Gone 60's garage night hosted by Miss January 1963 and Kitty Beat. The backroom capacity is probably 60 at most. We believe there's some backline but we're not sure how much; also we're unaware of the current door policy.
SANTO'S PARTY HOUSE
100 Lafayette St. @ Walker St. / Canal St.
subway: 6, JMZ, NQRW - Canal St.
This swanky, high-tech and modern looking club is located on the border between Chinatown and Tribeca. It's owned by Andrew WK and features many nights that would turn a garage/punker away in total disgust but does feature Jonathan Toubin's Monday night Secret Santos Declassified party which is normally populated with a few garage/punk bands (many of big national reputation) and the DJ talents of himself as well as guests. Cover is $10 unless you RSVP (and sign up for newsletter) to Jonathan, in which case it's $5. Beer is affordable but liquor is very expensive. The crowd seems to involve some NYU people (there are NYU dormitories less than a block away) as well as some Motor City / Brooklyn garage/punk people.
The sound is super LOUD but on a recent visit didn't seem to do much justice to garage bands-- there's a heavy emphasis on bass that doesn't sit well (in this case, with King Khan/BBQ). Otherwise the stage is at a good height and we'd guess capacity to be around 250-350.
285 Bedford Ave @ Grand St.
subway: JMZ - Marcy Ave, L - Bedford Ave.
This DJ-friendly venue is in the thick of the Bedford Ave hipster area of Brooklyn and is packed most Friday and Saturday nights. There are occasional soul nights here on a Tuesday as well as some weekend nights featuring Josh Styles or Jonathan Toubin. No regular nights that we're aware of at the moment though...
SECRET PROJECT ROBOT
210 Kent Ave @ Metropolitan Ave
subway: JMZ - Marcy Ave, L - Bedford Ave. (long walk)
Not so much a venue as a gallery, it's nonetheless played hosts to a few garage/punk shows. No regular nights.
15 Wyckoff Ave @ Hancock St.
Ridgewood, Queens/NYC 11385
subway: L - Halsey, M - Myrtle/Wyckoff
This live-in venue far out into Ridgewood, Queens on the L line frequently hosts Todd P-promoted nights, most of which are not of garage/punk/soul interest. Occasionally some out-of-town garage/punk bands do play here however.
The sound is below average but the canned schlitz and schmitz are cheap and the place has some atmosphere, especially its weird basement. No idea on door policy or booking for this one, it should be stressed that it's quite a distance from the main hipster area of Williamsburg and that parts of this neighborhood should not be walked through at night alone.
125 5th Ave @ W. 20th St.
subway: 2,3 - Bergen St., B Q - 7th Ave., M, R - Union St., G - Fulton St. (long walk)
Run by some of the same people as Maxwell's in Hoboken, this venue on the edge of Park Slope frequently features nationally known garage and punk bands and local ones with a large reputation as well (Fleshtones for example). Capacity is probably 300-400 and it seems a popular venue to see a show as well as to play one.
There should be some backline here but we're not sure what. The sound is pretty good, not sure of the door policy. Out of town bands should be aware that it's not close to any area with a lot of garage/punk fans-- it's a considerable train ride from the Williamsburg area (a little easier from Manhattan).
245 S. 1st St. btwn Roebling & Havemeyer
subway: JMZ - Marcy Ave, L - Lorimer St.
This dive bar on the south side of Williamsburg has featured some dj nights in the recent past including some good punk & power pop type nights by Jesse "Gasface". The drinks are relatively cheap, otherwise the bar is pretty unremarkable.
184 Bedford Ave @ N. 7th St.
subway: L - Bedford Ave
This venue finds itself at the very nexus of Williamsburg, near the corner of N 7th and Bedford Ave (the Bedford L station). Not even a block from the Charleston, it couldn't be more different: a glass paneled front allows those walking by to spy the bands performing within. The sound is excellent and there's an excellent backline. Most nights are done without cover with the tip jar being passed. There are no turntables.
There hasn't been much of garage/punk interest here but possibly a very good venue to book an out-of-town band into to get a quick crowd.
1041 Manhattan Ave @ Freeman St.
subway: G - Greenpoint Ave (+ long walk or B43/B61 Bus)
Tommy's Tavern is a shit hole in northern Greenpoint. Its band room is a bare bones, concrete room with terrible sound. The beer is very cheap, which makes for a drunken crowd. If you want to sit back and enjoy a band, this isn't the place. This is a place for a booze fueled party. Remember back in high school, before you moved to New York, you'd go to punk shows at the local VFW? That's what this is like.
256 Grand St. @ Roebling St.
subway: JMZ - Marcy Ave, L - Lorimer St.
This place features bands every night of the week, has a regular crowd, and announces bands start in the back live room with a large light. Sounds great you say?
Depends on how you look at it-- the door policy is onerous (virtually impossible to make any money from the door here), the sound decidedly average, and the place a dump (lives up to its name). If you've got an out-of-town band without hope of another good show elsewhere, this may be your best shot but don't expect much.
This large bar (containing medium-sized venue) has been the it spot for Williamsburg hipsters for years. It's legendary status as the busiest pickup joint in Brooklyn has been drawing douchey crowds from Jersey, Long Island and richy Manhattan for quite a while as well. At peak hours, it's virtually impossible to get through the bar's large main room due to the sheer number of people packed inside.
That said, it has an wonderful courtyard area, now with a taco truck serving up mexican eats AND a fire pit to sit around in Winter. Next to this courtyard is the medium sized venue-- capacity around 125. It's a pretty little place, with a proscenium arched stage, nice lighting, a curtain and fabulous sound. This back room also has a bar. Cover is collected at the entrance to this back room.
In terms of door policy, they take a fair amount from the door but it's flat-- not a %, so it's a good deal if you: a) draw a lot of people or b) have no problem charging a higher-than-average cover (say, more than $8). There is no backline outside of microphones and stands although there are normally turntables available.
Garage Punk shows used to be a staple here but it comes and goes. It's a favorite venue for the A-Bones and in fact, any show that Billy Miller books. The Black Lips and the Reigning Sound have both played here but have grown too big for the small capacity.
A huge venue (capacity: 600-800?) in Greenpoint near Matchless on Driggs Ave, this "Polish National Home" or some such foundation-ish sounding distinction is the venue for large indie rock shows as well as some garage / punk shows of repute (Cavestomp 2007, etc). It's also hosting a new record fair called Brooklyn Record Riot every couple of months. Prices are decent although drinks are slung by the typical Polish ice princesses of the neighborhood. There is also some food usually.
Link to this map: http://www.garagepunknyc.com/garagepunknycvenuesmap.html