I grew up on Long Island.

I was always conscious of the good and bad of the place. How can you not have mixed feelings about suburbia? The oppressive sterility of the central spine on either side of the LIE? Of the boredom of suburban life — especially as kids, of the Stepford wife/identical house development mindset, of all the cultural and aesthetic nightmares.

This is offset by spectacular beaches, very nice restaurants, easy proximity to NYC, and increasingly, quite excellent venues for seeing live acts.

As a kid, it was Nassau Coliseum (on Long Island) and Madison Square Garden (NYC) for the huge shows. I saw Black Sabbath, with an unknown opening act for them: Van Halen. Pretty much everyone else from Yes to Chicago to Peter Gabriel to Bruce to the Who to Pink Floyd.

Since these aging stars are no longer selling many CDs, but they are all touring. One of the great pleasures of the small venues in the area is that they manage to get these (formerly) huge, stadium acts. Sometimes, a big act doing Madison Square Garden will fill in a date at a local LI venue.

A small sample of recent shows I have seen at Nikon Theater at Jones Beach include the Police, Steely Dan, CSNY, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, and Peter Frampton. At only 8,200 seats (expanded to 15,000), it is a smaller outdoor venue, and if you are on the fence about seeing a show there, I strongly suggest doing so.

venuemapThen there is C.W.Post’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. A very intimate venue, it has 2,200 seats, and recent shows I went to there included kd lang, Itzak Pearlman, and John Pizarelli.

Lastly, there is Capital One Theater at Westbury. It is another small theater — 5,000 or so seats in the round — where other big names end up showing up from time to time. Recent shows included Yes, Steven Wright, Zappa Plays Zappa, and Louis CK.

The next show I will see heading there is The Steve Miller band.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t really care much about them — a middling but fun band from the 1970s and 80s. They had a good (13 million selling) Greatest Hits album (used, 90 cents at Amazon), but not exactly high brow music.

But the live show looks like a collection of greatest hits, and the seats are so close to stage — this is an act that also used to play stadiums — that I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to see him live in this tiny club.


What venues are you going to? What bands are you seeing?





Other sources:
Offiicial Site


Steve Miller Wikipedia entry

Category: Music, Weekend

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25 Responses to “Small Venues, Big Acts”

  1. bobc7i says:

    For small venues, the new House of Blues on Lansdowne Street in Boston, directly across the street from Fenway which just opened last year, is amazingly intimate. So far, have seen Live and (don’t laugh) Presidents of the United States of America. There are no seats, just a large hall with balconies and everyone stands. Great acoustics.

  2. Wes Schott says:

    …Goin’ to Mexico….

    you and your mother babe

    are like a nursery rhyme

    ENJOY…really old school

  3. Wes Schott says:

    when i was young surfer dude in South Fl…

    i had no money and my girlfriend was biatchin’ about not going out

    so, they had an outdoor concert venue called Pirates World (during the day, an amusement park) and they were offering “date night” 2 for 1 @ $5 – i could handle that

    The band was an unknown group called the Allman Brothers Band

    We went, she was happy for the attention and I heard some of the best music i have ever heard (well before i became a serious jazz aficionado, but still the case)

    They played their first album – and it sounded like they had practiced so much it was note for note, although I am sure there was improvised solos – WOW – what a pleasant surprise

    Duane Allman could play the guitar. Stevie Ray Vaughn. Jimmy Hendrix. Similar talents, similar foibles, and in some cases, similar endings

    did I just date myself? oh well, it is what it is…

  4. Steve Duncan says:

    I went to a Steve Miller Band concert in the 70′s. We were yelling at them to to play “Quicksilver Girl” and they wouldn’t….they were pushing their new songs. Fuck em….they suck.

  5. alfred e says:

    Like all those groups.

    Remember taking my high school senior son to a Pink Floyd concert at Soldier’s Field with prime seats on the field.

    Didn’t have to bring your own. All you had to do was breathe. Seems the only thing banned was alcohol. I am quite certain we would have all flunked a pee test for about a month.

    The Eugene Celebration (this year’s theme: Strange We Can Believe – appropos) was last weekend I enjoyed as much as I could, including the Slug Queen competition and the parade.

    Three outdoor stages and five indoor venues with performers. Three days for a whole $12.

    Local groups, Left Coast groups.

    The ones that stood out doing their own new music (that you can google) include Just People, Izabella, Wendy Darling, and LeRoy Bell & His Only Friends. I think LeRoy and Wendy were the best of those.

    It’s fun to enjoy new groups doing their music thing.

    Perhaps the internet changes to music distribution will help local artists along without the ASCAP/RIAA handcuffs. Lots of groups can now produce their own CD’s and MP3s with pretty good quality.

    It will be interesting to see how this evolves and what will allow some groups to achieve national recognition.

  6. dasht says:

    I saw them just a few years ago at a strange, outdoor venue near Pittsburgh, PA. It was definitely “older rockers doing greatest hits” which is pretty much what we expected but they put on a good show. Glad I went.

    The only drawback of *that* show was the venue which (we didn’t know this going in) was linked to the city by a one-lane highway and a one-lane exit path from the parking lot. At first I was surprised when so many people coming out of the show opened their trunks, took out grills, and started cooking steaks. Don’t you usually tailgate party *before* the show? 1.5 or 2 hours later when traffic was clear enough to actually leave the parking lot it made sense, though.


  7. Marcus Aurelius says:


  8. PrincetonNJ says:

    Steve Miller is an exceptional guitarist. If you’re a fan of great rock and blues guitar, he is worth seeing for his skill and artistry alone.

  9. PrincetonNJ says:

    Speaking of Jones Beach, great place to see a show. I was never a strong fan of Yes, but a friend dragged to their performance there a few years ago (with Steve Howe), and they blew me away.

  10. That was my genre and my time when I was still listening to the devil’s music. Lots o’ good memories.

    Some people call me the space cowboy….. 8)

  11. asiankida says:

    I’m from NJ and have grown up on the other side of Manhattan. I haven’t been to all of the venues, but I have a short list of favorites that I tend to go back to from time to time.

    Maxwell’s in Hoboken
    Irving Plaza
    Webster Hall
    Music Hall of Williamsburg
    Terminal 5

    the last show I saw was Nine Inch Nails at Terminal 5 and it was worth every penny. and there’s multiple videos on youtube for practically every song performed from this tour.

  12. PseudoNoise says:

    Heh, I was just going to mention NIN but thought it wasn’t most peoples’ cup of tea. Saw them at Soma in San Diego on their With Teeth tour (Dresden Dolls opened) — max capacity 2300. $20.

  13. Charlatan says:

    The Charlatans (UK). They’ve been rocking for twenty years now. The last surviving band from the Manchester scene — and one of the best in many ways. I actually thought of BR the other day when I saw 24 Hour Party People on cable. The Tony Wilson character, who was the manager for Joy Division and Happy Mondays, has a great little quote about jazz in the movie: “If you look around at a jazz concert, you’ll notice that none of the people in the audience are having as good a time as the people on stage. Jazz is like theater. It’s what you do when you can’t get a real gig.”

  14. KidDynamite says:

    just got back from seeing Sirsy @ the Bitter End on Bleecker Street. unparalleled. insane.

  15. bobc7i:
    Did the new House of Blues used to be called something else? Cause I’ve been there when it was something else(if that’s the case). Otherwise there is another venue right down the street from it. Is the Cask & Flagon still right at the corner?

  16. drey says:

    Don’t knock Steve Miller – he’s stolen more good riffs than anyone else out there and he’d be the first to say it. A Marin County boy with staying power…

    Best show I ever saw at a small venue was Neil Young coming down out of the hills on a few hours notice to play an impromptu set at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz in 1976. The Zuma album – very underrated IMO – had just come out and he did the whole thing plus some oldies. Opened with Cinnamon Girl at max volume.

    It do not get better than that in a small club, my friends.

  17. dcsos says:

    Steve Miller played guitar in Central Park at the Human Be-In in 1968
    He invited all of us to the Filmore East that night to see him and Lonnie & Boz (Scaggs) & Ben
    too bad I waited several years (till it was a backing band, not the original Steve Miller Band)
    Children of The Future, Brave New World & Space Cowboy are terrific today!

    Recent Live Likes: Dicso Fare: Little Boots & Lady Gaga
    Retro: Heros of Woodstock with Jefferson Starship
    Featured : Tom Constanten (Grateful Dead)
    & Country Joe McDonald

  18. CB says:

    That’s a great list of acts to have seen at smaller venues BR. I was not such a fan of Steve Miller’s songs either but saw him live at a multi-act festival and was very impressed. I’m looking forward to catching Os Mutantes in a 1500 cap venue with no seating – everybody stands up and dances! Should be crazy fun.

  19. Greg0658 says:

    last memorable was the Verve Pipe at a medium sized bar called Martyrs in Chicago about Thanksgiving last year .. one of those places you could read the play list on the floor in front of them .. great concert and came home with an CDalbum (for the trip home) (1st full release) called “Pop Smear” – if ya can check out “spoonful of sugar” “senator speak”* “is it worth it” .. really is good front to back imo

    * coda – even more special for me with Obama just being elected President

  20. bobc7i says:

    Calvin Jones,
    The House of Blues is where Avalon and Axis used to be. That building was torn down and replaced with a new building that can hold 2500 and also has a restaurant and lounge. The Cask is still on the corner, but greatly expanded and remodeled also with about 300 flat panels in the place. You would not recognize it on the inside, though it looks basically the same from the outside.

  21. guitardad says:

    OMG! I saw that Black Sabbath/ Van Halen show. A friend had a friend who worked at the box office, so we had 6th row center orchestra seats. Not knowing the name “Van Halen” we arrived two songs into their set. I was blown away.

    These days I see shows at The World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, which is a small but excellent venue for new groups.

  22. impermanence says:

    Hands down best place to see a concert is ‘Red Rocks’ in the foothills outside of Denver. Saw Jethro Tull’s 2oth Anniversary show (’87??) there; Ian Anderson was amazing. Perfect acoustics, gorgeous venue.

    For small venues, I saw Kansas at the Tower theater in Philly in the mid 70′s. A converted movie theater, I had serious hearing issues for a good week after that one, but the greatest concert experience I ever had was at the Kirby Center in Wilkes Barre, PA, a very intimate setting where I was in the forth row right in front of Steve Howe in the mid 90′s and Yes played an incredible version of “Awaken.” At the penultimate apogee of the song, about 20 minutes in (you have to know this song to understand), an explosion of laser light and confetti pours down on the crowd and I have never, ever seen such looks on people’s faces before. It was truly music nirvana (for YES people, anyway).

  23. wrongwy says:

    Saw Steve Miller back when (early 70s) – along with the Eagles – in the old Twins Ballpark in Bloomington MN. Great concert. A couple summers ago, they played the Minnesota State Fair. They were GREAT. Who cares if they fill a stadium? It’s wonderful to enjoy these artists in any venue. Enjoy the show.

  24. jeg3 says:

    I like going to the local colleges especially for the dance shows, they usually have good shows or put on their own.


    and also,
    Billionaires know how to spend the money on architecture.

    I have not been here yet, but eventually:

  25. tenaciousd says:

    Nothing big planned. I’d love to see Living Colour in Atlanta tonight but no deal. Otherwise, I’ve been checking out all the obscure but dedicated jazz/soul/funk reggae bands that come through. Always a great show.

    As far as Steve Miller goes, I once thought the way you do about him. He has become a willing slave in guilt shackles to his greatest hits. But, I recommend you try his Anthology album and the live King Biscuit Flour Hour set. He was once a Texas-prairie folk-rock poet. Les Paul thought the world of him, so you know he’s got some good stuff from back in the day.