Lists: Free Summer Music in NYC

Written by Paul Adler Posted in: Lists on June 22, 2012

Here in New York, summer is well underway and locals and tourists alike are keen on taking full advantage of the cavalcade of concerts, festivals, and otherwise musically-inclined events occurring over the next couple months. However, if you’re anything like me (read: poor), you’ll undoubtedly be left asking yourself: What can I see for FREE?

Fear not, showgoer—Indie Ambassador has put together a list of the Top Ten *Free* Summer Shows in New York City.

1. Alabama Shakes
Date: June 24th
Venue: SummerStage Mainstage (Rumsey Playfield, 72nd St and 5th Ave, Central Park)

The Alabama Shakes have positively exploded this year, garnering hype from all corners of the music world. My advice? Try and keep your flask of Jack hidden while enjoying these sultry southern jams; an open container ticket in NYC will run you twenty-five bucks.

2. Suzanne Vega/Gabriel Kahane (Poetic City)
Date: June 26th
Venue: Rockefeller Park (Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan)

Worried about your street cred? Well, fret no more: this show/poetry festival is just about as eclectic as it gets. While Suzanne Vega is a familiar name, Gabriel Kahane seems to have only recently madea splash in New York’s vastly expansive music scene. Add poetry readings by NYC laureates to the mix, and you might find yourself experiencing a veritable cultural overdose.

3. Fishbone
Date: June 28th
Venue: BAM at MetroTech Commons (Metrotech Center, Downtown Brooklyn)

It seems like Fishbone have been around forever, but age seems to be the last of their worries. These days, the wildly diverse, always fun outfit are more concerned with the enjoyment of, rather than the profit from, their music.

4. Veronica Falls
Date: June 29th
Venue: Pier 17 (South Street Seaport, Fulton St and Water St, Lower Manhattan)

Check out these British indie-pop up-and-comers as they play against a backdrop of old ships and new tourist traps. As an added treat, the psychedelic punk outfit The People’s Temple will be opening.

5. Roomful of Teeth (tUnE-yArDs + William Britelle)
Date: June 30th
Venue: World Financial Center Plaza (220 Vesey St, Lower Manhattan)

Loop-crazy wünderkind tUnE-yArDs has, over the past two years, become one of indie’s most widely-lauded acts, and with Merrill Garbus adding, among others, William Britelle to the mix in the formation of Roomful of Teeth, this is most definitely a must-see show.

6. CBGB Festival (Guided by Voices and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart)
Date: July 7th
Venue: SummerStage Mainstage (Rumsey Playfield, 72nd St and 5th Ave, Central Park)

Since their 2010 reunion, Guided by Voices have released two new records and show no signs of slowing down. They’ll be joined by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, as well as Cloud Nothings, to pay tribute to the late, great CBGB.

7. Dan Deacon
Date: July 12th
Venue: Hudson River Park (Pier 84, 44th St, Midtown West)

Fresh off a performance at Carnegie Hall, Dan Deacon is starting to seem like a man of the world, and not just the guy who did the “Drinking out of cups” video. John Maus of Animal Collective/Panda Bear fame will be joining Deacon with the ostensible aim of creating a bit of mayhem along the Hudson.

8. 4Knots Music Festival (The Drums + Crocodiles + Bleached, and more)
Date: July 14th
Venue: Pier 17 (South Street Seaport, Fulton St and Water St, Lower Manhattan)

This bill is chock-full of the best indie rock acts money can’t buy. Check out Brooklyn favorites The Drums, along with Hospitality, Crocodiles, and Nick Waterhouse as they treat the Seaport to an afternoon of jams.

9. Guthrie Family Reunion
Date: July 15th
Venue: SummerStage Mainstage (Rumsey Playfield, 72nd St and 5th Ave, Central Park)

Celebrate what would’ve been the iconic Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday with a cadre of his kin. And let’s face it: a little folk music, now and then, does a body good.

10. Oberhofer and The Soft Pack
Date: July 26th
Venue: Hudson River Park (Pier 84, 44th St, Midtown West)

These two outfits effectively epitomize “Brooklyn cool” as we’ve all come to know it, yet the sheer musicianship of these respective acts speaks for itself.

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Are we beginning to see a pattern, here? If you really want to stay in-the-know with all these awesome shows, pay attention to where they’re taking place, most notably Pier 17, SummerStage, and Hudson River Park; keep track of who’s slated to play these great outdoor venues and we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Now, you may have noticed this list only goes up until the end of July, the reason being there are simply too many awesome free shows this summer to list them all. Don’t worry, we’ll be posting a Part Two to this list in a few weeks, so you can wind down the summer with some more incredible (and free!) shows. Until then, the best resources to find some of the lesser-known gratis functions around New York are Time Out! magazine and NewYorkOlogy.com—they’ll have comprehensive lists of this summer’s must-see concerts and festivals, both free and, well, not so free.

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