Mercury LoungeSomehow I’d never seen a show here in all my time in NYC. I’ve also never been to CBGB’s, but my time for that is clearly running out. I’m glad I finally made it here, though, as I discovered another great, intimate space to watch hipster indie rock with a bunch of dudes in sensitive sweaters and horn-rims. I don’t think there was a single tribal or obnoxious back tattoo in the whole place! Walking in, it looks like you’re just entering a typical skinny bar, but take one step through what is essentially a swinging door and you’re in the performance space, which is reminiscent of a very nice brick loft space. The place is very small and very cozy, and seems to be built specifically for musicians. As a music lover, one has to appreciate that. In this particular case, I went to see John Vanderslice, and the sound quality and closeness factor were amazing. Beers were very easy to get and there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. The tickets were also cheap (around $10), and the atmosphere felt very underground and local. I absolutely hate Roseland Ballroom, and even Irving Plaza has felt too big at times. I’ve been digging Bowery Ballroom and The Knitting Factory for a while now, but this might be my new favorite spot to see music in the city. If you manage to find anything on the calendar that strikes your fancy–or are even just looking for a night of beer and music–I’d suggest you just pop on over and get tickets at the door. [MF]

217 E Houston St.