Best of NYS Music 2015: Staff Pick for Best Music Town in New York State

With an expansive state such as NY, there’s a multitude of large cities and small towns that are home to some widely diverse music venues and scenes abroad.  Teetering as the fourth most populated state in the country, New York houses just under 20 million people with the majority of the larger cities snuggled along interstate 90.  It’s a seamless route for bands to travel and schedule shows as they pass through the Empire State.  However, our team of merry music lovers here at NYS Music voted upon one town to be the best scene for live music.  I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that this 5-borough concrete jungle was the top pick for best music town in New York State.  That’s right, New York City indeed.  Coming in hot at #1 is the largest city in the United States and has been declared as the Best Music Town for many years now.   It’s probably not going to be topped anytime soon either.

Jim Houle - NYC - New York City - Manhattan

To a surprising degree, Albany and Buffalo were not so distant behind the Big Apple in the standings.  The Capital District has much to offer with many venues of all capacities spread throughout the city. A brief list starts with The Hollow Bar & Kitchen, The Palace Theatre, The EGG, The Fuze Box, and The Times Union Center.  Buffalo also has an impressive list of stages and events such as the Town Ballroom, The Tralf, The Waiting Room, Buffalo Iron Works, Nietzsche’s, and the First Niagara Center.


Oh, but the city that never sleeps has far more venues than anyone can imagine.  Clubs, bars, city parks, warehouses, basements, rooftops, to numerous theatres and stadiums are abundant in the melting pot.  It’s glorious!  The most regarded venue in NYC would have to be Madison Square Garden.  It’s beautiful, accommodating, spacious, acoustically dynamic, and it is just historically pleasing to be in and around.  MSG holds only the world’s largest acts and will be home to Phish for four consecutive nights at the end of 2015.

The Barclays Center is home to the Brooklyn Nets, seats about 19,000 people, and opened in 2012 with a major list of performers, including Jay-Z and Pearl Jam.  Its rivals in size would be MSG, Nassau Coliseum, Nikon at Jones Beach Amphitheater, and the IZOD Center (located in NJ).

Radio City Music Hall is the queen of all theaters in NYC with its 5,933 seat capacity, historical Art Deco interior, prestigious location, and Grand Stage.  The elevator system in the theater is so advanced, that the U.S. Navy had incorporated identical hydraulics into WWII aircraft carriers and had security personnel guarding the theater during wartime.  The Hall is sprinkled with depression-era artwork in the lobby, hallways, and the mezzanine.  It’s deserving of the nickname, Showplace of the Nation.

Though, just because NYC is ample in size, poses home to the largest/most popular arenas and theaters in the country, doesn’t mean that’s where the real glory is.  People tend to have more fun in the intimate venue, smaller capacity rooms where you can practically reach out and touch the artists from any angle of the room.  The venues that sell tickets at reasonable prices, have great selection of beverages, are decorated with passion, and cater to the individual concert go-er rather than consumers in bulk, are what makes the experience favorable.  The Empire City has all of that and more.   Some other venues that hold NYC so high are: The Beacon Theatre, The  Hammerstein Ballroom, Carnegie Hall, Playstation Theater, City Winery, Terminal 5, Brooklyn Bowl, Governors Island, Central Park, Bowery Ballroom, Village Vanguard, Cake Shop, and Saint Vitus are just a sliver of the pie.

New Years Eve in New York City, well really, the whole week around New Years, is chock full of music. Just check out this list put together by Catskill Chill Music Festival!


Aside from being the music mecca of the world, it’s almost in a class of its own.  Until that changes, go visit the Big Apple and enjoy some live music!

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