World Financial Center is located in lower Manhattan, between Vesey Street, West Street, Liberty Street, and the Hudson River. It is a complex of office buildings located above an upscale mall, just to the west of the World Trade Center memorial site. The actual venue spaces are located on the western side: an outdoor stage in the northeast corner of the outdoor plaza, and the Winter Garden, an indoor stage up against the western glass wall. During the summer, the annual River-to-River Festival holds some concerts there (along with Castle Clinton, Rockefeller Park, and others), including the kick-off, twelve-hour Bang On a Can Marathon. Other events occur occasionally throughout the year in the Winter Garden.
Both stages are notable for having a first-come, first-served seating area in the front, though the Winter Garden’s is larger (especially if one adds in the steps on the other side of the area), while the outdoor area gets a much bigger standing turnout. Considering the name, it’s not surprising that World Financial Center has a top-notch sound system, and the lighting in the Winter Garden is remarkable, sometimes including a massive screen in front of the glass wall. While the Winter Garden has people walking from different ends of the mall, the outdoor area is rather hemmed in, by the complex on two sides and a railing splitting the plaza in two. Being a mall-cum-office complex, there’s no alcohol in site (in fact, the closest thing to portable consumption is a Rite-Aid on the other side of the mall), and the security guards are a cross between high-class mall cops and office building entrance security (neither of which is very welcoming, even for security people). The outdoor area features a view of the Hudson River, while the Winter Garden has enormous indoor palm trees.
River-to-River features a wide range of musical acts, but the indie ones tend towards parks like Castle Clinton, Battery, or Rockefeller, or South Street Seaport. While World Trade Center has featured more ‘rock’ acts like The Eels in the past, it mostly goes the ambient electronica route these days. This plays to its limitations, like seating, non-rock audience, nearby businesses, lack of alcohol, high security – but also its strengths, like tech-friendly crowd, open ceilings, and excellent lighting and sound systems. An unusual space – but pretty damn kick-ass for a mall.
Capacity: 1,500 (Winter Garden); 1,000 (upper outdoor plaza – up to 8,000 when lower outdoor plaza included)
Between Vesey Street, West Street, Liberty Street, and the Hudson River
A, C, 2 & 3 trains to Park Place – walk 4 blocks west on Vesey
A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, & 5 trains to Fulton St. – walk 1 block west to Church, one block north to Vesey, four blocks west
A, C, N, R, 4, 5 & 6 trains to City Hall – walk 3 blocks south on Broadway to Vesey, five blocks west
-Neko Case, with Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires and He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, July 12th, 2012 (Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival) – Neko Case photos, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires photos, He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister photos
-Bang On a Can Marathon: Deep Listening Band, Michael Gordon Band, Newspeak, TwoSense, and Heavy Hands, June 17th, 2012 – Deep Listening Band photos, Michael Gordon Band photos, Newspeak photos, TwoSense photos, Heavy Hands photos
-Rufus Wainwright Goes To the Opera (with Anne-Carolyn Bird, Robert Mack, Kevin Murphy, and Laura Vlasack Nolen), June 28th, 2011 – photos
-Bang On a Can Marathon: Asphalt Orchestra, Athelas Wind Quintent, and Young People’s Chorus with JACK Quartet, June 19th, 2011 – Asphalt Orchestra photos, Athelas Wind Quintent photos, Young People’s Chorus with JACK Quartet photos
-Band On a Can Marathon: Talea Ensemble, Bang On a Can All-Stars, Quartet New Generation, Gamelan Galak Tika, JACK Quartet, and Slagwerk Den Haag, June 27th, 2010 – Talea Ensemble photos, Bang On a Can All-Stars photos, Quartet New Generation photos, Gamelan Galak Tika photos, JACK Quartet photos, Slagwerk Den Haag photos
-Bang On a Can Marathon: Lionheart & ETHEL, Jeppe Just Christensen, Athelas Sifonietta Copenhagen, Smith Quartet, Your Bad Self, Bill Frissel, and Todd Reynolds String Quartet, May 31st, 2009 – Lionheart & ETHEL photos, Jeppe Just Christensen photos, Athelas Sifonietta Copenhagen photos, Smith Quartet photos, Your Bad Self photos, Bill Frissel photos, Todd Reynolds String Quartet photos