An exhaustive guide to the sounds of summer for anyone who"s even slightly interestedÂ in seeing live music
This summer, there"s a little live music 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.
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 site-specific 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.
The 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. 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.
I"m picky these days and only want my music with a stunning river backdrop. You have options for that, right?
No biggie. In addition to the Williamsburg Waterfront shows, SummerStage at East River Park and River to River Seaport gigs, there"s the River Rocks 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?
Well, 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.
We 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.
Concerts are cool and all, but I want to play. Where can I do that with little preparation?
June 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.
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