The Best Clubs in America
20: Brooklyn Bowl in New York
With 16 bowling lanes, food from local restaurants and a hopping bar, performers such as Kanye West, M.I.A. and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are almost an afterthought – almost. The 4-year-old club in Brooklyn's Williamsburg district, originally an ironworks-foundry building from the 1880s, has become a favorite place to catch hip-hop and R&B acts like the Roots, who have played a "holiday jam" there to close out the last two years. Bonus: LED lighting, good for the earth.
19: Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, Mass.
Perhaps the world's only concert venue with a Lebanese restaurant upstairs, the Middle East opened in 1970 and began playing host to rock bands 17 years later. The site now hosts three music venues along with the restaurant; the downstairs club, with a capacity of nearly 600, is the crown jewel, attracting top indie acts to Cambridge's bustling Central Square.
18: 40 Watt Club in Athens, Ga.
Years before Michael Stipe used to stage-dive into the crowd at this legendary Georgia nightclub, the future R.E.M. frontman would count pennies to get in as doormen stared him down. (He later befriended Nirvana's Dave Grohl over veggie sausage at a restaurant the morning after the Seattle band performed at the 40 Watt.) Originally the rehearsal space for local rock heroes Pylon, the 40 Watt morphed into a bona fide club in 1979, drawing the B-52's, Sonic Youth, X, Patti Smith and Drive-By Truckers.
Fun Fact: The 40 Watt Club has changed hands a few times in its 35 year history, but it’s currently owned by Barrie Buck, Peter Buck's ex-wife.
17: Union Transfer in Philadelphia
Union Transfer can fit between between 600 and 1,000 fans, depending on how the "flexible room," as Arcade Fire agent David T. Viecelli calls it, locates its unusual movable stage – which makes it a small club some nights, and a mid-sized venue on others.