17 Irving Place at 15th Street
Subways: N, R, 4, 5, 6, L
Irving Plaza seems to be the premiere concert venue in the city. It is a converted theatre with a large floor, small but slick wraparound balcony, large stage, and first-class sound and lighting systems.
Everyone who is anyone plays at Irving. The Cure. Meat Beat Manifesto. Nothing Records. The Sisters of Mercy. Front 242. Prince...??!! The list goes on and on. The large stage and intimate atmosphere help bridge the gap between large halls, and small clubs. This helps the artists feel close to their fans, while allowing them to put on a larger scale stage show than they might be able to at a club.
Entry leads to an old foyer, which has the coat check, and info on the venue available. Directly to the right, a doorway leads to a large staircase which ends at the concert hall proper. A mid-sized hallway runs down the side of the dance floor. Usually, you can find a table with band merchandise in the back. Behind it you can find a staircase that will lead up the balcony. While this can provide an interesting perspective on the show, it is very narrow, and is usually packed with people. The far side of the balcony is generally reserved for VIP tables. At the back of the balcony is a bar. It is mirrored on the main floor. General Admission is the norm, so fight your way to the front if you're in the mood. A large movie screen is installed, and often finds it's way down in between bands.
Security is light, but firm. They generally don't frisk you down, but you'd better have your ID ready at the door if you're drinking. Admission is all ages, but you must be 21 to get an alcohol-allowing wristband. All concerts are produced by Delsener/Slater, who pretty much have a chokehold on all the big venues in the city. 25 cents from each ticket goes to LifeBeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS.
Commentary by Kerry Smith, Monday, Oct 20, 1998.