Only in New York are we lucky enough to sort through bushels of free shows each weekend. We, like you, are a bit overwhelmed by the insane magnitude of free concert series going down this summer. To make it easier, we’ve broken them down, festival by festival, and series by series, to let you know what to expect, and which you should attend. Best of all, they are ALL FREE. Read on for the low down on The Seaport Music Festival, Celebrate Brooklyn, Northside, 4knots, River Rocks, Summerstage, Surf Lodge, and MORE as we get ’em. Be guided by stars of encouragement (*) for our top picks.
June-August @ South Street Seaport
Tip: Get your (hard) rock on at this fantastic Fri-and-Sat evening series. Shows tend to start on the early side so be sure to pay attention to start times, or cover your bases and get there at 7:30.
The Seaport has been bringing high-quality free programming to NYC’s summers for almost a decade, and never is there a year when they don’t disappoint. This year their lineup is punk and garage rock heavy, creating the perfect backdrop for all types of music-lovers to mingle under sail-cast starry skies. The series is on Fridays and Saturdays mostly so you’ll have time to trek back by train from the seaport- or perhaps extend your naval experience and spring for a water taxi or east river ferry on your way back to BK!
July 11- Protomartyr, Alvvays *
July 17- Calvin Love, Las Rosas
July 25- Torres *
August 1- Snowmine, The Casket Girls*
August 8- Black Bananas, Shockwave Riderz
August 15- Boogarins, Jacco Gardner
August 27- Dead Gaze
August 29- Joanna Gruesome, Big Ups *
June 14 & 15 @ McCarren Park
Tip: RSVP to get in quickly. Shows will be crowded but you don’t have to arrive hours early to get in. Watch out for potentially douchey crowds.
The price of a Northside badge is hefty, but the festival also offers free shows, so unless you’re a hardcore fangirl/boy, there’s no need to dish out big money for some of your favorite bands. On June 14th, McCarren Park will host San Francisco garage rock vets Thee Oh Sees, and the very next day, trendy Scottish electro-poppers CHVRCHES take the stage. All you need to do is RSVP! Yes!!!
June 14, 2pm- Thee Oh Sees @ McCarren Park*
June 15, 2 PM- CHVRCHES @ McCarren Park
June-August @ Prospect Park Bandshell (9th Street & Prospect Park West)
Tip: The best concert series in Brooklyn! You can bring in food, drinks, and tons of friends– the space is huge. Plus, the pricey benefit shows are (almost as) awesome from just outside the bandshell, where the sound rolls out magnificently…and freely, of course.
This summer-long celebration is almost too good to be true. Kicking off June 4th, the show series combines one of our favorite NYC green spaces with big time musicians – and it won’t cost you a penny. While they offer several benefit shows for a fee (Jack Johnson,The National, Neutral Milk Hotel, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), there’s plenty of freebies for us broke, music-loving Brooklynites. Prepare to bring a blanket and stake out a spot – Celebrate Brooklyn! has made such a splash in summers past that people flock early. Even with a packed (albeit stunning) front lawn, the sound quality will not disappoint. And THIS is why we’ve missed you so much, sweet summertime. Full calendar here.
June 4- Janelle Monae *
June 7- The Soul Rebels + Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen + Lost Bayou Ramblers
June 20- Amos Lee + Lake Street Dive
June 21- Dum Dum Girls + Hospitality + TEEN *
June 26- Warpaint + Yellowbirds *
June 27- Shovels & Rope, Valerie June, Shakey Graves
July 5 – Robert Glasper Experiment Featuring Talib Kweli + Glenn Kotche + Aja Monet
July 19- Deltron 3030 + Nomadic Massive
July 24- Nickel Creek
August 2- Kes The Band +| Kuenti i Tambu + DJ Dr Wax + Steel Sensations
August 9- St. Vincent + San Fermin *
July 12, 2014, 1-8 PM @ South Street Seaport
Tip: There’s nothing bad about this fest except the strong midday sun, so make sure you are hydrated! Also, they can’t really check your bag since you are in a public space, so you can bring liquid amenities. If you know what we mean.
Remember Siren Fest at Coney Island? Also presented by Village Voice, 4Knots is that festival’s direct descendant. While 4Knots’ Manhattan location is a bit tourist-heavy, the lineup always rules– last year, we caught bands like Kurt Vile, Parquet Courts and White Lung— and of course, we didn’t pay a dime! Although headliners The Julie Ruin were recently forced to drop out (huge bummer), this year’s lineup is still pretty stellar: Dinosaur Jr, Those Darlins, Speedy Ortiz, Radkey, Juan Wauters, and more TBA. Plus the free sponsor swag and snacks can’t be beat. Catch ya there.
July 10-August 7 @ Pier 84 (44th st and The Water)
Tip: It’s a little out of the way, but with this magnitude of headliners, the crowds will be big. Get there early to get in.
This concert series if one of our favorites. Although it runs a little brief this year (just 3 weekends in July and August) it brings some of the biggest talent in any NYC fest. Though it’s located a bit out of the way at Pier 84, the pier provides a beautiful backdrop for a summer concert: the good ole Jersey skyline, and often times, fireworks! Food trucks and booze are always onsite.
July 10- Wild Beats + Mutual Benefit *
July 24- Teenage Fanclub + Honeyblood + Saint Rich *
August 7- Temples + Here We Go Magic + Spires *
The Surf Lodge Concert Series
June-August 1 @ The Surf Lodge (183 Edgemere St, Montauk, NY)
Tip: Get to the beach for a series of intimate shows with some big-name artists (in the name of surf rock, or course).
This incredible concert series goes down in swanky Montauk restaurant/hotel/vacation spot The Surf Lodge. If you can get your ass out to Long Island for the day or weekend, we highly recommend checking out these high-end shows (many of the bands on this series are stopping over for a relaxing gig before or after heading to other summer shows) because the crowds will be way less crazy and the vibes way more sunny. Our faves, below, ain’t even all of the shows happening there this summer. Dayum.
June 1- Yeasayer*
June 6- TEEN
June 8- Lissie
June 14- Reuben and the Dark*
June 15- Courtney Barnett*
June 22- Real Estate*
June 28- Bear Hands
June 29- Haerts*
July 5- St Lucia
July 12- San Fermin*
July 13- Gary Clark Jr
July 19- Drowners
August 2- Delorean*
August 9- Temples*
August 10-Donovan Frankreiter with Tom Curren
August 23- Wet*
August 24- Sky Ferreira*
June-September @ Central Park, Red Hook Park, Herbert Von King Park , East River Park & More
Tip: Central Park shows have huge lines that build up early. Get there early if you really care about the band, or if you just want to tune in, grab a spot outside, keep your booze, and sprawl on the lawn. Shows at other parks should be a lot less crowded and with a more fun, diverse crowd.
Brought to you by The City Parks Foundation, SummerStage is an exciting annual concert series that takes places in all of the boroughs throughout the months of June, July and August! Artists from all genres and backgrounds perform outdoors at parks all over the city. It’s all ages and there’s sure to be at least one show for everyone! It’s the good way to take advantage of great music (well known and emerging) and the neighborhoods in which they take place in. All of these below are free! Our highlights include Andrew Bird, Juana Molina, Blood Orange, and Bonobo. All info here.
June 4- Mark McGuire, Marissa Nadler, Delicate Steve @Red Hook Park *
June 11- Sisqó @ Betsy Head Park
June 19- Algebra @ Herbert Von King Park
June 21- FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE: -M- AND ÉMILIE SIMON @ Central Park
July 8- Andrew Bird & The Hands of Glory, Luke Temple @ Central Park *
7/12- Juana Molina @ Central Park *
July 13- Bonobo @ Central Park *
July 17- Mobb Deep @ Queensbridge Park
August 8- Mykki Blanco @ East River Park *
August 10- Passenger / Liam Bailey @ Central Park
August 16- Blood Orange, Moses Sumney, Sean Nicholas Savage @ Central Park *
We’ll update as we get wind of more shows.. til then go enjoy the free vibes!