Mercury Lounge 217 E. Houston St. (Ludlow & Essex Sts.)
Lower East Side
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When bands like The Shins or The Strokes want to do a secret show or up-and-coming Brooklyn bands want to do the opposite, this is often the place to be. Every city has a rock mainstay like this one and Mercury Lounge rolls with the best of them. Two rooms holding about 250 people make up this no-frills venue, which downtown trendspotters complain about all the time, yet show up to with money in hand every weekend. The sound system is quite possibly the best in the city, the beer is good enough, and the crowd is all about the music. Covers are in the $10-$12 range and shows do sell out. Think of this as the Bowery Ballroom’s little brother.