Summer Guide 2011: Music

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts, Summer Guide.

Summer shows in idyllic New York settings have become a local tradition in the age-old lineage of blowing your college savings on a heroin addiction, shouting at bystanders from fire escapes and cooking dinner over the open flame of a garbage can.

This summer, there’s a little something for everyone, but with so many options, it’s hard to parse exactly where you should be and when. That’s why we’ve prepared a handy Q&A to answer all your summer music needs.

It’s Friday. I’m sick of my cubicle and its lack of sunlight and plan to drink until the pangs of corporate depression set back in on Sunday evening. Where do I go?

The best option for your happy hour show-going will forever be the River to River Festival. This year’s program, which runs from June 19 through July 16, features shows from Patti Smith, Dirty Beaches, Lower Dens, Weekend, Laurie Anderson, The Wake, Bill Laswell, Rufus Wainwright, My Brightest Diamond, The Radio Dept. and more. A highlight will be the annual Bang on a Can Marathon, which takes place June 19 and features Bryce Dessner of The National, along with Glenn Branca, Philip Glass and compositions from Yoko Ono and David Byrne with St. Vincent’s Annie Clark.

I don’t go to the city’s great parks nearly enough. Where can I go for some grass time and a show?

Well, your two main options are the gold standards of summer shows: SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn!

SummerStage, taking place from June 7 through Sept. 2, strikes its usual eclectic balance of genres and locations with park shows in all five boroughs. Of course, its biggest concerts take place at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. Performers include Florence and the Machine, Lykke Li, Twin Shadow, Cults, Rakim, EPMD, Wiz Khalifa, Reggie Watts, jazz legend Roy Ayers, Wavves, Talib Kweli, Milagres, Nas & Damian Marley, The Sugarhill Gang, Ryan Leslie, The Budos Band, Kool Moe Dee and Ozomatli.

Celebrate Brooklyn, set in Prospect Park, features both ticketed and free shows with an eye on the indie A-list. Performers include Animal Collective, Cut Copy, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, Best Coast and Bon Iver, with more to be announced later.

On June 18, there’s the Governors Ball Music Fest, featuring sets from Girl Talk, Neon Indian, Das Racist, Miami Horror and Reptar in addition to beach volleyball, beer-pong art installations and more.

There’s also the always excellent Afro- Punk Fest, taking place in Commodore Barry Park near the Brooklyn Navy Yard Aug. 27 and 28. The fest will feature sets from Santigold, Janelle Monae, Fishbone, Cee Lo Green, Toro y Moi, Reggie Watts and more. Need more

than just music? There’s also a skate and BMX competition, over 20 food trucks, a custom bike show and a ton of other activities to distract you from the debilitating August heat.

I hate this newfangled rock music that all the kids are listening to and want to break out the blazer, some wine and that picnic basket I mistakenly bought back in ’07. Is there anything classy going on?

Duh! Lincoln Center is the name of the game here. Its Out of Doors festival is celebrating its 41st season with 100 free performances throughout its beautiful properties. While opening night features the U.S. premiere of Billy Bragg’s The Big Busk and a world premiere of a sitespecific dance performance entitled Water by Eiko & Koma, we’re setting our guns on the She’s Got The Power bill that includes Lesley Gore, Lala Brooks of The Crystals, Maxine Brown and dozens of other members from ’50s and ’60s girl groups. Other performers throughout the summer include Mavis Staples, Laurie Anderson and many more.

Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn Series owns your folk, country, bluegrass

and jazz fix. This
year’s bill, running from June 22 through Aug. 10, features performers
like Christian McBride, Dale Ann Bradley, Red Horse with Eliza Gilkyson
and Davell Crawford paying tribute to Ray Charles.

Washington Square Music Festival rounds out the classy park scene with
opera and chamber ensembles, before concluding with the Charles Mingus
Orchestra Aug. 2.

City-sponsored events are well and good, but isn’t there something put together by an alt-weekly with a keener eye for music?

Yes ma’am! From June 16 through Aug. 11, New York Press is
programming Thursday night concerts in Union Square Park for the annual Summer in the Square. Kicking off
the festivities will be Brooklyn’s own Friends and other shows will
feature Ava Luna (July 14), Grooms (July 21), The Shondes (Aug. 4), ARMS
(Aug. 11) and plenty more.

haven’t been to Manhattan in years and don’t intend to start now. Isn’t
there something in Williamsburg I can go to where everyone dresses the
same and I feel good about my lifestyle decisions and lack of a

The Northside Festival is tailored to your needs. Guided By Voices
headlines at McCarren Park Stage June 18 with Wavves and Surfer Blood,
while Beirut and Sharon Van Etten rock the same venue a day earlier.
Atlas Sound, Woods, Eleanor Friedberger and Mount Eerie also play church
shows at St. Cecilia’s in Greenpoint, while lots of other venues will
sponsor participating shows.

It looks like the pool parties you know and love are dead, but that doesn’t mean the Williamsburg Waterfront isn’t
going to have a plethora of shows. The obvious highlight thus far is
Sonic Youth featuring Wild Flag and Kurt Vile (Aug. 12), but there are
also planned ticket shows with TV on the Radio and Broken Social Scene,
Death Cab for Cutie and Frightened Rabbit, as well as Kid Cudi. Free
shows include They Might Be Giants and a comedy night led by Eugene
Mirman and Kristen Schaal.

I’m picky these days and only want my music with a stunning river backdrop. You have options for that, right?

biggie. In addition to the Williamsburg Waterfront shows, SummerStage
at East River Park and River to River Seaport gigs, there’s the River
program over at Hudson River Park. Performers here will include
Tune- Yards, Deer Tick and Metronomy.

I mostly love art, but like to kick out a few jams from time to time. Is there something for me?

MoMA has its annual Summergarden series on Sunday evenings. Admission
is free with entry to the museum, so check out the exhibits and then go
outside for a weekend climax.

also have experimental arts and design organization Superfront, which
is accepting proposals from locals for use of a semi-outdoor space in
Sunset Park every Saturday and Sunday from June 9 through Sept. 3. Go
visit their website and apply if you have the next big performance,
project or non-profit business idea.

I only like hip-hop. Bring the noise!

Don’t fret, my beat junkie.

has you covered, but there’s also the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival on July
16. This year’s headliner is Q-Tip & Friends, which basically means
he’s going to bring out every New York rapper that’s still alive.

something a little more Top 40 and amusing, there’s always Hot 97’s
, which features Dipset, Lil Wayne, Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Chris
Brown, Fabolous, Waka Flocka Flame, Birdman & Young Money, Rick Ross
and Lloyd Banks & Friends.

a little more funk? The R&B Festival at Metrotech enters its 17th
season with midday weekend concerts at the corner of Flatbush and Myrtle
Avenues in Brooklyn. Top billing goes to George Clinton & The
Parliament Funkadelic, Dionne Ferris, Maxi Priest and many more.

Concerts are cool and all, but I want to play. Where can I do that with little preparation?

21 is Make Music New York, an 11-hour spectacle where musicians can
play sidewalks, parks, community gardens and anywhere in-between by
simply signing up. Walk around and you’re sure to hear something great
amongst the horror.

Eat And Drink To The Beat

you’ve been outside all day, checking out your very favorite performers
and swigging cheap beer out of a plastic cup. You’re tipsy, dehydrated
and on the verge of heatstroke. Life is rough! And you’re hungry! Have
no fear, sweet friend— we’ve got all your food needs covered.

If you’re seeing a show at…


Every year, SummerStage brings an awesome mish-mosh of genres to that
weird mass of green stuff the subway doesn’t go across. But that’s OK,
big spender: If this is your local venue of choice, we’re assuming
you’ve got cab fare. Or maybe not, because with a line-up of artists
ranging from Funkmaster Flex to Yo- Yo Ma, SummerStage is worth a
train-trek uptown.

You can grab a bite at…

Via Quadronno 

25 E. 73rd St., 212-650-9880

In this neck of the woods, your affordable dining options are severely limited, but your sandwich options don’t have to be. With an extensive panini menu at prices the Upper East Side considers reasonable, this teeny-tiny cafe is your best bet for filling your belly without emptying your purse.

If you’re seeing a show at…

Street Seaport 

We’re not big fans of the waterfront tourist trap, but
there’s strength in numbers, and an army of locals makes this summer
music spot much easier to endure.

You can grab a bite at…

Fresh Salt

146 Beekman St., 212-962-0053

If indie rock by the water has depleted your reserves, drop into this tiny bar and eatery for some satisfying food—we’re fond of the meatloaf sandwich and the turkeyand-apple on a whole wheat baguette.

If you’re seeing a show at…

Financial Center 

Well aren’t you special! While your other friends are
out pounding PBRs with the masses, you’re getting some high culture at
the WFC and supporting the continued revival of the Financial District
(do we still care about that?). Balance out your highbrow tastes with
some low-brow booze and grub.

You can grab a bite at…

Mike’s Papaya 

88 Reade St., 212-964-7022 

We were just going to write, "Try the Whole Foods salad bar," but then we remembered Mike’s—which, among other restaurants, has been getting a bit of press lately over health-code violations. As if that really means anything. No matter what, a frank and a papaya juice is rejuvenating.

If you’re seeing a show at…


While our hearts will always ache for McCarren Park Pool,
the view from the Waterfront is undoubtedly an upgrade, and with Sonic
Youth and Wild Flag in this summer’s line-up, does anything else really
matter? In this nabe, you shouldn’t really need help finding a place to
fill your tank after the show, but we’re offering a suggestion anyway.

You can grab a bite at…

Nita Nita

146 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 718-388-5328

Though the tapas-style plates may be small, Nita Nita’s cheesy, bacon-heavy menu isn’t entirely light fare—so it’s perfect for soaking up the massive amounts of alcohol you’ve been imbibing all day. If you’re done with the show, but not yet ready to take the party inside, you can enjoy your meal in the big backyard.

If you’re seeing a show at…

Park Bandshell

Prospect Park gets major props for talent selection and
range of performers— Ailey II and Animal Collective, for instance.
Celebrate Brooklyn! is the city’s longestrunning free outdoor
performance festival for a reason, and like the cultural fare, food and
drink options in this Brooklyn bastion are plentiful.

You can grab a bite at…


511 9th St., Brooklyn, 718-499-1966 

Like the flagrant misspelling of
"Steak Au Poivre" on its online menu, the mishmosh of high-brow and
low-brow offerings at Dizzy’s can be a little jarring, but where else
can you order said fancy steak with a side of cheese fries?