4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, W at 14th St.-Union Sq.
Catering to a broad range of musical palettes, this veteran concert hall hosts big names and has-beens as well as small-time openers poised to become the next big thing. Its original mission was to provide straight-up rock but you wouldn't know it from the decor. In the early '90s, the space housed "Song of Singapore," a long-running musical that left behind plush red couches in the lobby, ornate mirrors on the staircase, and a gold-plated ceiling, lined with red neon. The main room, a ballroom complete with yellow-lit chandeliers and an upper balcony, holds 1000 (standing room only). Currently, the line up is decided by Live Nation, whose aesthetic runs from hardcore to emo, and from jam bands to arena rock. In recent years, U2 and Sting have both taken advantage of the intimate space, and Prince once played a three-and-half-hour late night set. Openers are generally unknown acts, but like Dave Matthews and Bright Eyes, they've been known to return as successful headliners.Extra
LIFEbeat sets up a table at most shows. Even if you don't pick up the free condoms, Irving Plaza donates 25 cents of every ticket to the organization. Over $100,000 has been raised so far.
For a hefty fee, you can rent out the space for a private party or benefit.