QCulture: Live Music Alive And Well In Borough

Staff Writer

Venues like Karaoke Shout are great for those who want to sing their favorite tunes all night long.

Venues like Karaoke Shout are great for those who want to sing their favorite tunes all night long.

When it comes to music, Queens has been growing in popularity over the last decade.

Once home to legendary artists like Paul Simon and The Ramones, the Borough is now benefiting from the popularity of Brooklyn’s indie music scene. As artists flock to Queens from around the world, they mix in with musicians who were born and raised here. With all this talent, it comes as no surprise that concert venues are becoming more and more popular in the Borough.

One of the most popular locations for live music is LIC Bar. Located at 45-58 Vernon Blvd., this watering hole has a 100-year history as a community staple. Besides a bevy of alcoholic beverages, you can head towards the back or go into the garden to catch local musicians every Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. Nearly every concert features multiple artists, so if one is not to your liking, you can give the next one a shot.

If you are looking for a unique setting, then walk a couple of blocks to MoMA PS1 for its outdoor Warm Up series. The summer series introduces audiences to experimental live music and DJs from the City and around the world. The concerts take place every Sunday until Sept. 6 in PS1’s courtyard, which features an installation by New York architecture firm, The Living, this year. To see the full lineup, visit

Want something a little toned-down? The Queens Kickshaw on Broadway may be what you are looking for. The eatery offers specialty coffee, brunch, craft ales and wine. Once the night comes along on Fridays though, it also serves as a venue for bluegrass bands, folk duos or solo guitarists.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is Gussy’s, located at 20-14 29th St. in Astoria. While it may seem like a hole-in-the-wall at first glance, that is part of its appeal. This bar is perfect for someone looking for cheap drinks, a few good laughs and some excellent hard rock or metal bands.

If you head eastward from Astoria, the next major venue you will hit is Blackthorn 51. Unlike many other locations in Queens, Blackthorn 51 appears as a concert hall first and a bar second. It contains a top-of-the-line sound system and an energetic light show, great for the metal bands that frequently take its stage. Blackthorn 51 is located at 80-12 51st Ave.

One of Queens’ top attractions is the historical Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. While it has undergone many uses in its 150 years, the building is now a cultural institute. You can catch performances that range from jazz to country to a drum circle. Local, national and international acts have all played at the venue, a variety only matched by Queens’ own diversity.

For individuals who like to sing but do not play instruments, there are karaoke bars and clubs throughout the Borough. Karaoke Shout, located on Steinway Street, has 16 private rooms, a party space for any number of singers and a great happy hour. Flushing also has a couple of notable karaoke spots, specifically the Zebra Lounge and Flower Karaoke.

For those who want to add companionship and competition to their singing, there is Gotham City Karaoke, based in Sunnyside. This social, team-based league goes out to karaoke venues night after night, singing along and against each other in a good-spirited battle to see who is the best. For more information on the league, visit

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @JoeMarvilli.