Sunday, September 22, 2002
By PJ Gach
Recently at the
Luna Lounge, a tiny East Village night spot, dozens
of people crammed into the bar's small dark back room with many standing
the limited amount of well-worn furniture to see stellastarr*, a Brooklyn-based post modern, new wave band, perform
for their new following of fans.
Despite the venue's size and somewhat dingy state, it's one of the
places to see up and coming bands. Not just because the music is
spot-on sometimes (it's always a gamble). But, more importantly,
Shawn Christensen, lead singer for stellastarr* is a stalwart
supporter of the club and the
"We built most of our fan base out of that club," he says. "At the
end of the day, no
one wants to take a chance with eight dollars on a band.
But with the Luna Lounge, they'll just come right through the
it's a free."
With six nights of live music, music addicts can catch two or three
a night. Usually they're unsigned bands, playing everything from
country to very prevalent postpunk acts. But Interpol,
which just released
its first album on Matador Records, played a secret gig there before they
kicked off their European
It looks like the days when you could see stellastarr* on the cheap
are over, as the New York act
is Don Hill's with Mistle Thrush on Oct. 5,
and heading to D.C. after that to play the 9:30 club in DC with the more
bands Moony Suzuki and Sahara Hot Nights.
But Luna's still there and only one of many clubs to offer free
as a lure for beer-thirsty patrons. We put on our earplugs, our best
walking shoes and found some more of the best spots
for live music.
Get your groove on at Filter 14, (432 West 14th St.; 
366-5693). Wednesday night's
party is aptly named "Girls and Boys Night."
It's a happy gender blender party -whatever you are is fine here.
Indie bands play in between DJs who keep the party moving. It's a
fun energetic little place, and the club will
do anything to waive their
$5.00 cover. Bring an ad, a flyer or even this article and you get in free.
Locals flock to the neon be-decked Parkside Lounge (317 E. Houston
St.; 673-6270). General goofiness ensues in the
front room under the
benign smile of the bartender. The back room hosts acoustic, bluegrass, and
indie rock bands four
times a week.
Anything goes at this former speakeasy in Brooklyn, the Charleston
(174 Bedford St., Williamsburg;
 782-8717). With a faded-glitter feel,
the joint is little Tarantino-esque with twirling disco balls, a 60-foot
bar, and a huge juke box. The club, which has live music Wednesday
through Saturday, has laid back vibe - and one drink
minimum, but $3.00
isn't a bad price to pay to see funky ska bands like Benecio and the Del
The Lakeside Lounge (162 Avenue B;  529-8463) jams its compact
corner by a plate glass picture window for its indie,
rock and country mix
of mostly local bands and singer/songwriters. Featuring one set of music
nightly, this lively,
yet laidback venue is sardine-can crowded on Fridays,
as everywhere in the East Village does, but all the other nights,
roll of the dice on the band, play Ms. Pacman or Galaga while sipping a
pint, or step inside the often busted
Non-descript on the outside, the Infra-Red Lounge (210 Rivington
St.;  254-5043) packs
a punch on the inside with red walls and yellow
Victorian settees instead of couches. The Fugs josh with the audience while
original jazz based rock on Thursday nights. Friday nights DJ Tanner
spins Brit Pop and electro between the sets of several
indie and garage
bands that crank it out.
Real roots country can be found every night of the week at
Avenue C;  358-0048), which seems to operate as a New York venue for
Nashville newcomers. At this quirky
place, patrons can play with tinkertoys
while sitting under a Betty page mural. Grunge-country band Company, which
the second Monday of every month, has made the club its musical home
for its newfound fans to get something for nothing.
At the Rodeo Bar (375 3rd Ave.;  683-6500), a funky
unpretentious bar with free peanuts and great
margaritas, couples practice
the two step on stage between sets. Any night of the week you can hear
rockabilly to country
blues to honky tonk. The Hangdogs could claim the
title as the bar's houseband, but the club offers a mix of stars, such
Dale Watson and Hank Williams III., and lessers known twangy acts. Even the
Cowboy Junkies have kicked up the dust
here, on a New York tour stop.
Avoid the ticket prices at the Knitting Factory (74 Leonard St.;
219-3006) by heading downstairs to their Tap Bar, where you can sip
one or all of the fifteen microbrewed beers and listen
to jazz, rock and
experimental music four nights a week. Electro band Learned Evolution hosts
a jam Wednesday nights.
Bistro tables and candles makes the Bar on A (170 Avenue A; 
353-8231) look like your average lounge,
but the musical choices are
adventurous, particularly on Sunday nights. Grab the chance to hear
everything from Albanian
folk singers to a duet between a laptop and piano.
In Brooklyn, you can find another tiny charmer at Pete's
(709 Lorimar St., Williamsburg;  302-3770). The front room is the place
to chat and the back room offers
intimate seating with lo-fi duos and bands
music from swoony croony tunes to rock. Last Monday, Hialeah Jorge and the
Cowboys drew a packed house with its curious blend of rock en espanol
and confessionals that were sung in English, as songs
were pulled together
by a lilting quasi-Caribbean beat. While it's still warm out, check out the
Sunday BBQ and open
mike in the garden.
Mickey's Blue Room (171 Avenue C;  375-0723) balances an art
haunt and live music Wednesday nights with aplomb.
This is one the happiest clubs in New York. Recently a dog served as
d' while punkers were polite to the friendly bartenders. Indie rockers like
Pawnshop and Marewood play on Wednesday.