425 Lafayette St.
When it opened in 1998, Joe’s Pub bested the downtown competition with everything from smart indie hip-hop to big names like Alicia Keys. But it started picking up other clubs’ leftovers and booking dull world-music groups. Director Bill Bragin has steadily built Joe’s back to preeminence, expanding the stage, adding more shows nightly, and recapturing the eclectic spirit. Bragin has programmed polysexual crooners like Antony and the Johnsons and stars like David Byrne—who feel so comfortable, their performances take on a thrilling, improvisatory form you won’t see anywhere else.