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We Columbia students may not be the best at getting off campus, but if there’s one thing that will get us downtown, it’s a concert. That being said, realistically, we can’t always afford tickets at Terminal 5 or Madison Square Garden (even for the bad seats); but don’t worry, there are many other amazing venues in the city. You’re going to have to take a lot of Ls (trains) to get to these under-the-radar music venues, but you’ll be guaranteed an intimate and unique concert experience.

Rough Trade NYC in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

A Yelp review details the Rough Trade experience: “Both the music venue and the record shop have a clean/new feel to them, and [a] small venue feel to provide a semi intimate performance compared to others in BK.”

Flatbush Zombies just performed their new album, “Vacation in Hell,” there this past week. Upcoming performers at Rough Trade include Møme and Mr Jukes. If you are a vinyl junkie, stop by the store and grab some new albums before the concert.

Transportation: Take the 1 to 14th Street, then transfer to the L to Bedford Avenue (~55 minutes).


599 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

This recently converted warehouse in Bushwick is the new spot for NYC college students. Elsewhere has it all: a café, art studios, concert spaces, and a rooftop equipped with a full bar opening up this spring. Elsewhere’s new arts program, “Landscape,” “aims to bridge the gap between art and music” and has art exhibits open to the public every day of the week.

The Hall and Zone One are the concert spaces and artists like Princess Nokia, The Voidz, Young Fathers, and TOMI are performing here in the near future.

Transportation: Take the 1 to 14th Street, then transfer to the L to Jefferson Street (~55 minutes).


45 S 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

The Gothamist describes Freehold as “a Hotel Lobby Hangout without the Hotel.” Freehold has the Coffee Shop, the Lobby Bar, and the Courtyard all available to customers. Go for brunch or coffee and order an item from their “Room Service,” like the truffle fries.

The Studio Sessions

Freehold began hosting non-traditional music pop-up concerts last year with events running from March to October. Past artists have included Saint Motel and St. Lucia, and for these upcoming sessions, the website says to expect the artists to be “bigger and better.” The intimate concert space gives you the occasional chance to meet the artists after the show, and it’s an opportunity you cannot pass up. The concerts are often unannounced and require RSVPing to their office. Here is the catch: You have to be a “Freeholder” to get into some of the concerts. There is a fun application to fill out. Give it a shot and good luck!

Transportation: Take the 1 to 14th Street, then transfer to the L to Bedford Avenue (~55 minutes).

Irving Plaza

17 Irving Pl, New York, NY 10003

Unlike the other Brooklyn venues on this list, Irving Plaza is a fairly well-known Manhattan performance space, but the ballroom-style music venue is often underrated by NYC concertgoers.

Past performers include R&B, rap, and pop artists like Childish Gambino and Remy Ma. Upcoming performances include Roy Wood$, Kate Nash, and Andy Grammer.

The tickets are general admission for entry to the large main floor. The venue also features a balcony VIP area, if you are in the mood to splurge on your favorite artist. The concerts get very crowded and are all standing, but concertgoers are guaranteed a hyped crowd and performance.

Transportation: Take the 1 to 42nd Street, then transfer to the Q/N/R/W to 14th Street-Union Square (~30 minutes). | @cuspectrum

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