The Mercury Lounge is located at 217 East Houston Street, between Ludlow and Essex streets, where the Lower East Side meets the East Village. It's on the first floor of a building that once housed the servants to the Astor Mansion, connected to it by an underground labyrinth of tunnels. Garfein's Restaurant occupied the space in the early part of the twentieth century, and from 1933 to 1993, the storefront housed a seller of tombstones. Vestiges of the monument store include the large, foot-square, wooden beams, on which the monuments sat and were displayed, used in the construction of the Mercury Lounge's storefront window. And there is a tombstone embedded in an end of the bar's countertop.
But what we hope posterity most remembers about 217 East Houston Street is its current incarnation, the Mercury Lounge. The primary goal of the venue was quite simple: to build the best sounding room possible and book it well, and to provide all musicians who come through the room with quality production. We have been fortunate enough to book many great bands (see our Gallery), we've had an extremely positive reception from agents, record companies and the public. And we have also received some very good press coverage that does a better job than we can of explaining what works in the Mercury Lounge:
The New York Times
December 2, 1994
The Mercury Lounge pulls off an unlikely combination of elegant understatement and East Village cool. The music room is in the back, past a long, dimly lighted bar and a pleasant but sometimes overwhelmed admissions collector. It's a plain, squarish, brick-walled space, usually set up with tables in front and standing room behind them. And it has one of the best sound systems in the city: full-bodied and clear, loud but without a brutal edge. It is one of the most promising new clubs in the city. The club books local bands and touring ones, from alternative rockers to singer-songwriters. The club's reputation has already spread among booking agents, who appreciate its quiet cachet; they bring in bands that might be expected to play at larger places
New York Press
(running club description in music listings)
Had there been rock clubs in ancient Greece, Plato would have used the Mercury Lounge to illustrate his notion of Ideal Forms. The view of the stage is unobstructed wherever you stand, the clarion-like sound system is never overwhelming and the door separating the bar area from the stage insures that you'll never be forced to endure a band you dislike.
New York Magazine
The Best of New York
April 17, 1995
Rarely does a rock club strike such a balance between cutting-edge booking, high-quality sound, and chairs one might actually want to sit on.
Guide Review -
With so many music venues in the East Village, Mercury Lounge is a standout for hearing live music. Mercury Lounge's reputation promises top acts in an intimate environment.
- Good social spot
- Friendly staff
- Quality live music
- Mercury Lounge is located at 217 E. Houston Street
- Closest subway to Mercury Lounge: F/V to 2nd Ave
- Mercury Lounge Cross Streets: Ludlow and Essex (Avenue A)
- Mercury Lounge Phone: (212) 260-4700
- Mercury Lounge Cover Charge: typically $8-12
The Mercury Lounge is one of the better places to catch a live show in the East Village (and there are many). Upon walking in, you'll find a long oak candle lit bar and strangers coming together in a small, but cozy space. Past the long velvet curtains, the brick-walled "music room" can intimately fit approximately 250 music lovers. The sound quality is out of this world, and the club's size permits decent views of the stage, even for anyone who cannot find a seat (which are usually arranged in the front, near the stage). Mercury Lounge books both local and touring bands, from alt. rockers to indie/folk. Because of the clubs good reputation, you might also expect to see bands typically found in larger clubs, who appreciate this quiet venue.