Easy Listening

Making Sense Out of the Musical Mayhem

Best pickup line to use
None. Knit audiences think sex is so 1994.

How to get in free
The downstairs Tap Bar is always free—small jazz groups play there after 11. You need a ticket for the other rooms, and the Old Office has a drink minimum.


Irving Plaza
17 Irving Place, 777-6800

What's onstage
Second-tier commercial radio bands, road warriors with big followings but no recent hits, occasional huge stars looking for a relatively intimate one-off.

Vibe
Pretty slick—shows actually start on time!—and pretty large, but just small enough that you can find friends who've wandered off.

Tips
Pain-in-the-ass lines, both coming and going; obligatory bag check. Don't stand anywhere near the speakers if you want to hear tomorrow.

Too young to rock?
Merciful 16+ policy only requires ID if you want a wristband to drink.

Best pickup line to use
"So, how many of those free Lifebeat condoms are you planning on using tonight?"

How to get in free
Radio stations give away tickets to Irving shows like candy.


S.O.B.'s
204 Varick Street, 243-4940

What's onstage
International groove music: The name stands for Sounds of Brazil, but there's also reggae, soca, charanga, and occasionally funk and hip-hop.

Vibe
Part Brooklyn-bohemian, part touristy, part beat-freak central. Straw-thatch/quasi-tiki-hut motif is a little unnerving.

Tips
Dress to sweat. Not dancing is de rigueur at most NYC live-music clubs; it is unforgivable here.

Too young to rock?
They rely heavily on the bar, so they're careful about who gets in; there are often long lines, anyway.

Best pickup line to use
"Do you dance merengue? . . . No, I know that's not what they're playing."

How to get in free
Difficult. Tickets are superpricey to begin with, and they're into getting people to make dinner reservations, too.


Tonic
107 Norfolk Street, 358-7503

What's onstage
Improv, postjazz, and experimental music, much of it from the orbit of John Zorn and pals. Quirky electronics in the Subtonic lounge. Klezmer and songwriters on Sundays.

Vibe
A pleasant, laid-back, international mix of young skronkmaniacs and old jazz hands. Many audience members own cell phones, but refrain from using them.

Tips
Early birds get good seats. Tonic is also the only music club in town where the food is both a good deal and tasty.

Too young to rock?
Now that they've got a liquor license, they do tend to card.

Best pickup line to use
"Is that an Other Music bag?"

How to get in free
Show up with an electric tuba and claim you're sitting in with the headliners.


Wetlands
161 Hudson Street, 386-3600

What's onstage
Jam bands, plus the occasional dose of hip-hop, metal, and reggae. Musicians who really love pot, basically.

Vibe
Hippie heaven, with a converted VW bus and lots of free political literature, much of it about hemp.

Tips
Downstairs lounge is dim, cushy, and make-out heaven. Shows inevitably run very late.

Too young to rock?
Almost everything's 18+.

Best pickup line to use
" . . . Jerry, man . . . "

How to get in free
Hang around out front, waving and yelling, "I need a miracle!" On second thought, don't.


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