A recent trip out to New York City made me realize how much a venue can really help or harm a band. I was visiting friends near New York for a good week or so while I was taking a break from work, and I had decided that I would try to catch as much music as I possibly could. After all, I love live music and I really don’t get to feel the whole ambiance of the city often. So, I figured that I would combine two of my favorite things in this activity. It was an enjoyable experience, but also a very interesting study.
First, I knew that I wanted to check out some of the smaller scenes. I played in a band in college that frequented pubs and bars, and so this was the environment that I knew best. We were a jam band, providing ambiance for any given bar, and so we thrived when people were active, talking, drinking, and not sitting with their hands quietly folded on their laps. This works for most bands, but I did see a small acoustic gig that sort of got drowned out by the liveliness of the whole scene. It goes to show that you need to observe your venues.
I also thought that I would jump into some larger venues and scenes, taking on more popular ones such as the Bowery Ballroom and the Nokia Theatre. Both of these venues were great for larger bands with high amounts of energy. My favorite though ended up being my trip to the Rockwood Music Hall. It had charm, intimacy, but still enough room to rock. This, I think, is a great venue for a smaller band that wants to carve out a nice little niche with an intimate show and setting. Different bands will thrive in different venues, and it’s really interesting to analyze who fits best where, and why they fit the best in those particular venues.