Seeing a band at BB Kings in NYC

bobmc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
Going with some friends to see Sonny Landreth next week, and it'll be the first time at this club for me.

What should I expect? One set? Sound? Seating/view?

My friends are more excited than I am, it'll be my fourth SL show; he has yet to top a set I saw at Jazzfest with him backing John Hiatt on the "Slow Turning" tour.
 

RickC

Member
Messages
7,529
Great room. Capacity is in the 400 range, so it's like a big club; actually, I guess it *is* a big club :). Comfy, great sound, should be a good place to catch SL. Everytime I've been there was one set by the headliner but there was always an opening act as well. I've played there several times too and it's one of favorite rooms from that perspective.

/rick
 

they

Member
Messages
246
I love BB Kings, but it has some flaws.

The sound is always fantastic. The service is friendly and efficient, if not exactly good. The sight lines are very good, unless you are sitting behind Lurch. I love the feel of the room - its lively.

Its a little like a classic jazz club - communal tables and they REALLY jam you in. If your jacket size is more than a 42, you will be rubbing shoulders with your neighbors. The drinks are pricey, but not a total ripoff. Service continues throughout the set, which can be a bit distracting.

It is a tourist trap, with all the trappings, but it is at heart a very, very good room with great acts.

A few tips -

Go early. It's first come, first serve. DO NOT think that having dinner next door in Lucilles will get you a better seat, no matter what they imply. Quite the opposite. They are famously lax on getting checks out at Lucilles, and the line builds while you are waiting.

My favorite seats are on the balcony rail, preferably along the bar side, but the sides are pretty good too. The balcony is raised about 2-3 feet, so you have a perfect sightline and nobody can sit in front of you. If you want to catch a falling hangnail, of course, you'll want to be on the floor in front. Some acts remove the tables on the floor and create a dance floor, but somehow I doubt Sonny will do that (James Brown did that, years ago).

If you don't like where they are aiming you, just ask to sit somewhere else. The hosts/hostesses usually don't care and are pretty good about being clear and diplomatic if you can't sit somewhere..

Avoid the food. The burgers come out of the kitchen before the ink is dry on the order check, obviously picked off a warming rack by the dozen. Everything else is woefully underwhelming and very pricey. Best to eat before or after somewhere else.

There is a bathroom attendant. Bring dollars or prepare to feel guilty (or not, if you can find it in your heart to resent someone who is paid zero to spend his/her evenings in a busy toilet).

Standing room at the bar is a drag. It can go 4-5 deep for popular shows and its nearly impossible to get a barkeep's eye.
 
Messages
1,361
I love BB Kings, but it has some flaws.

The sound is always fantastic. The service is friendly and efficient, if not exactly good. The sight lines are very good, unless you are sitting behind Lurch. I love the feel of the room - its lively.

Its a little like a classic jazz club - communal tables and they REALLY jam you in. If your jacket size is more than a 42, you will be rubbing shoulders with your neighbors. The drinks are pricey, but not a total ripoff. Service continues throughout the set, which can be a bit distracting.

It is a tourist trap, with all the trappings, but it is at heart a very, very good room with great acts.

A few tips -

Go early. It's first come, first serve. DO NOT think that having dinner next door in Lucilles will get you a better seat, no matter what they imply. Quite the opposite. They are famously lax on getting checks out at Lucilles, and the line builds while you are waiting.

My favorite seats are on the balcony rail, preferably along the bar side, but the sides are pretty good too. The balcony is raised about 2-3 feet, so you have a perfect sightline and nobody can sit in front of you. If you want to catch a falling hangnail, of course, you'll want to be on the floor in front. Some acts remove the tables on the floor and create a dance floor, but somehow I doubt Sonny will do that (James Brown did that, years ago).

If you don't like where they are aiming you, just ask to sit somewhere else. The hosts/hostesses usually don't care and are pretty good about being clear and diplomatic if you can't sit somewhere..

Avoid the food. The burgers come out of the kitchen before the ink is dry on the order check, obviously picked off a warming rack by the dozen. Everything else is woefully underwhelming and very pricey. Best to eat before or after somewhere else.

There is a bathroom attendant. Bring dollars or prepare to feel guilty (or not, if you can find it in your heart to resent someone who is paid zero to spend his/her evenings in a busy toilet).

Standing room at the bar is a drag. It can go 4-5 deep for popular shows and its nearly impossible to get a barkeep's eye.
This is an excellent assessment and advice (although I can't comment on the food). Overall it's a nice venue, but pretty much what you would expect of such a place in Times Square. I'll add that in addition to great sound, it's one of the few venues that I've been to where the sound guys don't try to blow your head off with volume.
 

bobmc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
Huge help guys! I will pass along the info to the host.

I like the balcony rail idea.
 

VicAjax

Male Supermodel
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,557
i've seen a few great shows at BB King's, but personally i really don't like the venue at all. the neighborhood is a drag, the food and drinks are terrible, and the ambience is reminiscent of a chain restaurant.

but if the act is decent, those things don't matter much.
 

bobmc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
Well, had to eat there after much traffic getting into the city. The food must be prepared and heat lamped, it was really (really) overpriced and mediocre. I would recommend a slice of pizza before telling anyone to eat there.

My one buddy picked the table touching the stage directly in front of the guitar rig, I went along with it only to have to move after opening act, Geoff Hartwell. Hartwell was a pleasant surprise, he is a very good player mixing open string slide and some almost shred (for lack of a better term) chops. He played a Hamer Doutone and I dug most every sound he got out of it. A few drum miscues, but over all, nice solid short set.

Watched Sonny from the back, and he, as always was just freaking awesome. I will be retuning my Strat sometime over the weekend and try to find that damn Cajun finger slamming, harmonic distorting TOANZ. The amp rig was (for both guys) Demeter head, Marshall combo (single input, forget the model now) , Roland Jazz 77, and Twin. Unsure how much was the club's. Two Strats; one burst with maple board, one fiesta red with rosewood, did not look at pedals.

He did a bunch of instrumentals from new recording which sounded liek really good Sonny Landreth instrumentals. I stand by my earlier statement that each SL gig I have seen has been worthwhile and entertaining, but nothing compares with seeing him back up John Hiatt.
 

they

Member
Messages
246
Well, had to eat there after much traffic getting into the city. The food must be prepared and heat lamped, it was really (really) overpriced and mediocre. I would recommend a slice of pizza before telling anyone to eat there.

My one buddy picked the table touching the stage directly in front of the guitar rig, I went along with it only to have to move after opening act, .

The food is a trainwreck, as I noted. But it sounds like it was a port in a storm.

Why did you have to move after the opening act?
 

bobmc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
Ear pain. Just a tiny bit, but at 52, I do not F around with my hearing; it's already compromised.
 

bobmc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
I have to admit when I saw the slide, I kinda thought it was a bad idea to book a slide player before Sonny, but he really had his own voice on it.
 




Trending Topics

Top