The world-famous Lincoln Center contains a whole bunch of concert stages. Most of them are dedicated to classical music and other upscale events. But Avery Fisher Hall also hosts plenty of rock and folk music - something that's much closer to my heart. With its gilded walls, plush red seats, beautiful design and grand ceiling, the place can turn any music, dance or spoken word act into a magical experience.
Like many places built before the advent of electricity, Lincoln Center was built specifically with acoustics in mind, so the sound there is absolutely perfect, on par with Carnegie Hall. Even without amplification, the sound carries through the specially designed space. The walls themselves work as amplifiers.
The place can be understandably pricey, being part of the upscale and expensive Lincoln Center. Prices usually hover in mid- to high range, depending on the act. I don't remember ever paying less than $30 to go there. They do, however, offer considerable special deals for seniors and students.
There is a famous joke: "How can I get to Carnegie Hall? - Practice, practice, practice." Luckily for people who love music, there's an easier way to get there: just take the subway.
I've had the good fortune to see a few classical performances and a few rock acts such as Ani DiFranco and REM at this amazing venue. It was built for classical music, with acoustics in mind, but it also suits other types of music. Hearing Michael Stipe's voice reverberate off the acoustically perfect space of the venue is surreal.
The prices vary based on the acts. I've seen some unexpectedly cheap performances there, sometimes for as little as $20 - which for a venue of this stature is pretty amazing. The venue has three seating levels, but the highest - which is also the cheapest - is very high. The acoustics there are still perfect, but if you are watching a visual act like a dance performance or a rock group, it's hard to see from there.
For obvious reasons (little space on a small island, expensive real estate, etc.) New York City doesn't have many outside venues for people who hate to stay in stuffy clubs and concert halls in the summer. If you want to enjoy a concert under the open sky, the best you can do is go the way out of town to Jones Beach. The Central Park Summerstage is a huge exception. First off, you have to walk through the beautiful Central Park to get there. It's located not far from Strawberry Fields, and there's a beautiful lake nearby. On a good day, just getting there is half the fun.
The roster of musicians is usually top-notch, and the prices tend to be bearable. The sound suffers from all the same problems that plague any outdoor venue, but it's quite good considering that the place isn't even an amphitheater - it's just a field with a stage set up. Considering this fact, it's amazing how well the organizers and technicians manage to pull the concerts off.
Because the sun sets late in the Summer, it's usually still pretty light out at the beginning of the concert. But as the sun sets, the place has a great atmosphere of an overgrown camping trip, with most people sitting on the ground on blankets and a lot of communication between the audience and the performers.
The Jones Beach Theater is one of those magical venues that can create a spark no matter who is performing. It helpes, of course, that people who perform there are usually pretty cool. But it also helps that the venue itself is beautiful, romantic, personal... in other words, it has a definite vibe. Ah, the times when I've passed a certain something to a random neighbor... or the times I've made out with my girlfriend... all during a concert here.
The amphitheater is built facing the water, so the stage is framed by the bay. Often during the performance sailboats come right up to the side of the stage. It's a gorgeous setting for a concert. Once the sun goes down, you can look up and see the sky. Since the theater is outside of town (in fact, it's located in a recreational area that is protected from development), the stars are much brighter there than anywhere in the city.
The Jones Beach Theater has two types of performers: the nostalgia acts (Jethro Tall and Motley Crue have been known to play there) and great modern rock heroes like Pearl Jam and Tori Amos. Even though it's way out of the city and a pain to get to, it's always worth the trip! The seats slope, a little bit by the stage and sharply in the back, so that you can see the stage perfectly no matter where you are. The sound depends on the weather - the wind tends to carry it away - but that's a problem that faces all outdoors venues. Aside from depending on the weather, the acoustics are great.
Prices vary depending on the performer, starting in mid-range and going up from there. Some of the shows can get quite expensive. But even with prices going up, this is one of the most magical places I've ever been to.
Hammerstein Ballroom is the venue the bands go right after they've outgrown small clubs, but before they're famous enough to sell out the nearby Madison Square Garden. It's close to the size to a more upscale (but terrible) Beacon Theater, except that there is no seating on the floor. It has hosted acts as diverse as Nelly Furtado and Marilyn Manson, PJ Harvey and a Russian rock festival.
For people who hate general admission floors with their moshing crowds, there are several general admission levels with seats. Tickets usually cost the same no matter whether you're standing or sitting, but make sure you specify which one you want when you are buying the tickets: if your ticket says the floor, you won't be allowed to go sit down, and vice versa.
|Though not as intimate as a bar (and not as drink-friendly), this is your only chance to actually SEE the bands!||Great food shopping!|
|From sushi to beer and shrimp!||From diamond sets to silver toe rings, you'll find anything you want here!|
|Great Gifts For Everyone On Your List!||Delis that sell great food by the pound!|
|From homemade food to Russian dolls!||Eat, Drink and Be... Merry!|
|Come for the tourist attraction, stay for the great food!||They'll never regift!|
"Writer and Translator"
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