115 MacDougal St
New York, NY 10012
Hours: Mon 9p-2:30a, Tue-Thu,
Sun 8:30p-2:30a, Fri-Sat 8:30p-4a
Subway: A,C,E,F,M,B,D to West 4th St
Written by: Nick D’Amore
A rare intimacy exists between the band and the audience at Cafe Wha?. Large bands occupy a small stage, playing almost literally in the lap of the audience. The club packs in as many people as possible, but it is never uncomfortable. The space’s layout guarantees a seat near the action on stage, or a place to dance.
Cafe Wha? offers three resident bands each week: Brazooka, a Brazilian jazz band; Disfunkshun, a Brazilian dance band; and the 10-member Cafe Wha? Band. Guest bands fill the remainder of the schedule. To simply label the house band a cover band would be akin to calling Guinness just a beer, or calling New York just another city. Cafe Wha?’s players are masters of their craft, performing as a tight, creative group and offering infectious interpretations of many rock and pop standards.
Cafe Wha? continues to reinvent itself—now a venue offering a raucous good time, attracting visitors and college students alike.
Cafe Wha? carries on as a vibrant New York City institution with a rich past. In its heyday, the venue helped launch some of the most legendary artists in popular music, such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground and Bruce Springsteen. Writers and artists of the Beat Generation met at Cafe Wha? in the 1950s. During the social upheaval of the 1960s, Greenwich Village, and Cafe Wha? in particular, remained a safe haven for the revolutionary thinkers of the era.
As the times and tastes of the public changed, so, too, did the entertainment provided at the venue. While you might not discover the next revolution in popular culture at the club these days, what you will experience are three excellent bands offering crowd-pleasing music that gets the floor rumbling under dancing feet.