The Mercury Lounge is one of the hippest and best sounding rooms on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It holds around 250 people and has a reputation for great taste—often booking very cool bands early in their careers who then go on to become hugely famous and influential. Just a few of these artists are Radiohead, 30 Seconds to Mars, Jeff Buckley, The Strokes, Interpol, The Dandy Warhols, and The Killers.
Mercury was originally the servants’ quarters for the nearby Astor Mansion, and was connected to it by underground tunnels. From 1933 to 1993 the storefront housed a tombstone dealer. In 1993 it became a music venue.
You enter the concert room, which is wide and square, through the (very!) narrow bar. It can get quite crowded, which makes it tough to get a drink. Double doors keep the music out of the bar, though, making it easy to chat up your date or the bartender.
Clearly, though, the draw here is the music. The cover is usually around $10 and the place really fills up with hipsters and NYU students. Be prepared to stand for the show—as the only seating provided is a few benches along the side walls—but if you’re an indie rock fan, you’re in the right place and you won’t mind. Check out the video below of the amazing band Cults performing live at Mercury Lounge in March 2011: A great mix of Motown and Soft Punk!