As a live-music lover standing at 4’11” (or 5’, according to my generous driver’s license), I have suffered through many a concert with only the occasional glimpse of a guitarist’s mop top. Years ago, when I attended a Peter Bjorn and John show at Bowery Ballroom and didn’t realize that Andrew W.K. had made a surprise appearance until long after his exit, I vowed to help my fellow shortstacks. Here, at long last, is a guide to some of the city’s music venues and what the vertically challenged can expect from them. You’re welcome.
Williamsburg is full of lumberjack types. If you’re lucky, you can find a barstool to perch on at Union Pool, but when a show is packed, you’re lost in a sea of heads. Head to the Lower East Side's Cake Shop instead, where you can see equal-caliber bands — but with a better view thanks to the uneven floors that rise throughout the basement music room. Bonus: baked goods are available, and we need all the nourishment we can get while on our tiptoes.
Mid-size venues can fill up quickly, and no one wants to show up three hours early just to get a good spot (and sit through four opening bands). Knitting Factory’s back wall gives us little to work with, as the ornate light fixtures further obscure the stage. We’re better off at Bell House, thanks to a platform near the bar and two more flanking the sound booth.
Irving Plaza is a favorite among teenagers for their very first grown-up concerts, and with teenagers come mosh pits. Fact: short people and mosh pits do not mix. If you’re going to go corporate, you might as well try Terminal Five, where there’s bound to be empty balcony space somewhere. And if you get bored, you can buy a $10 Asian fusion hot dog.
Most Todd P venues are kind to little ones, as many have rickety platforms or balconies. Either that or people are sitting down the whole time, “soaking up the vibe.” Despite its street cred, Death By Audio is not as accommodating, with its tiny live room locking in crowds like a Rubik’s cube. Try neighboring Glasslands instead, where there’s a balcony that may or may not be up to building code standards. Not recommended for those afraid of heights, but always worth the climb.
Yes, Webster Hall has a balcony, but you usually need a press pass or generous cleavage to get up there. If you want a venue with plentiful liberal arts students, $6 PBR, and lots of nearby taco options, head to MHOW, where there are elevated areas on both sides of the stage. In fact, it may win the award for New York’s most accommodating venue.
So until someone invents adult booster seats, cross your fingers that your favorite band makes the right choice — the pygmy choice.