Friday, January 30, 2009

Venue Review: Mercury Lounge

<< NYC Venues: Index

Location: LES, Manhattan
Address: 217 E Houston (between Ludlow and Essex)
Size: Medium (Cap. 250)
Directions: F/V to Second Ave., walk three blocks east

Acoustics: A-
Booking: A
Helpfulness to bands: A-
Atmosphere: A-

Acoustics - Mercury Lounge has good acoustics for any kind of music. I've never been in there and thought, "wow, music has never sounded so good before," but the sound is solid and the sound engineer(s) definitely know what they're doing.

Booking - Mercury Lounge is easily the most prestigious venue of its size in New York City. They can pretty much book any band they want and a good indicator of when a band has "made it" is when they first get a headlining slot there. Mercury Lounge is run by Bowery Presents, who own many of the medium-to-large NYC venues. All the Bowery venues are very concerned with profit and draw and it's hard to get a spot at any of them. However, I've still given them an "A" for booking because despite having their pick of bands, Mercury Lounge is very responsive, even to bands they are turning down. They are easy to get in touch with, communicative and open-minded, and in my experience, foster good relationships with everyone. That's a rule everyone in the music industry should follow - in the music industry even more so than other fields, a person who is nobody today could be calling the shots a few months down the line. But that doesn't seem to be common wisdom, and it's refreshing to find a venue that acts with courtesy and professionalism towards everyone.

Helpfulness - As you might have already guessed, Mercury Lounge is respectful and accommodating. Like all the Bowery venues, they have a pretty strict protocol that must be followed, but bands are their top priority - not club nights or parties - so musicians who do get booked seem to get the attention they need.

Atmosphere - It's a great space in a great location. There's nothing noticeable about the room or stage, it's just a room with stage, but it's the real deal, as historic as any place can be after only fifteen years of existence. And it's still small enough to feel intimate and genuinely indie-rock.

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