Best concerts this summer: top NYC summer concerts to see in 2013

Get the scoop on the ten best concerts in NYC this summer, including the Great GoogaMooga, Beyoncé and Governors Ball.

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  • Photograph: Adam Macchia

    The Great GoogaMooga

  • Ke$ha

  • Lauryn Hill and Nas at Hot 97’s Summer Jam

  • Photograph: Forest Woodward

    Governors Ball Music Festival

  • Photographs: Cinzia Reale-Castello

    Paul McCartney

  • Photograph: WME Entertainment

    LL Cool J

  • Photograph: Reuben Cox

    Belle and Sebastian

  • Photograph: Tom Munro/RCA Records

    Justin Timberlake

  • Photograph: Yosra El-Essawy/Invision

    Beyoncé

  • Photograph: Live Nation Entertainment / Courtesy Photo

    Black Sabbath

Photograph: Adam Macchia

The Great GoogaMooga

These ten shows are the cream of the crop—the best concerts happening this summer in New York. Our list of the best concerts includes Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter Show world tour, two outdoor festivals (the Great GoogaMooga and Governors Ball Music Festival), legendary acts like Black Sabbath and Paul McCartney, and more boldface names.


RECOMMENDED: All summer concerts in NYC


The Great GoogaMooga

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

We’ll allow a bit of skepticism about this music-and-food fest, returning to Prospect Park after an inauspicious 2012 debut. (The phrases shit show and goat rodeo may have been used after the fact.) But its organizers claim to have addressed last year’s issues (long lines, not enough food), and frankly, we’re pretty stoked for the music lineup. Friday’s kickoff event features the Flaming Lips and Yeah Yeah Yeahs; if you managed to score a ticket for Saturday or Sunday (registration for both has long been closed), you’ll be treated to performances from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Father John Misty, Sharon Van Etten, Matt and Kim, and more. googamooga.com,  Fri 17; $54.50. Sat 18, Sun 19; sold out.

  1. Prospect Park Prospect Park West to Flatbush Ave, between Prospect Park Southwest and Ocean Ave
  2. Fri May 17; 4–10pm, Sat May 18–Sun May 19; 11am–8pm
More info

Pitbull + Ke$ha

Here’s what you can expect from this glitzy blowout: radio-tailored bleeps and bloops, swagged-out shades, heaps of glitter, and hands-in-the-air, bottle-popping entertainment. Miami party-rapper Pitbull offers little more than bangers to soundtrack a sweaty club soiree, but the underrated Ke$ha alone is worth the price of admission. Despite her maddeningly ditzy veneer, the snotty star sparkles with joy, honesty and a deadly serious commitment to having fun. PNC Bank Arts Center (livenation.com). May 31; $29.50–$125. • Nikon at Jones Beach Theater (516-221-1000, livenation.com). June 1; $29.50–$125.

  1. Various locations
  2. Fri May 31 at 7:30pm, Sat Jun 1 at 8pm

Hot 97’s Summer Jam XX

Hot 97’s annual hip-hop throwdown enters its 20th iteration on the heels of controversy from last year, when Nicki Minaj pulled out at the last minute. But 2013’s event is a winner: Staten Island’s finest, Wu-Tang Clan, tops the bill, which features Miguel, 2 Chainz, Wale and (grumble) Chris Brown. (The lineup also includes A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Joey
Bada$$ and Vinny Cha$e—adding up to more dollar signs than in a Gordon Gekko dream.) hot97.com, $45–$250.

  1. MetLife Stadium
  2. Sun June 2; 6–11pm

Governors Ball Music Festival

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Three years in, this multiday celebration has attracted a diverse lineup—especially its wonderfully weird trio of headliners. Kings of Leon kick things off on Friday night, but we’re expecting things to get really interesting on Saturday and Sunday, when Guns N’ Roses and Kanye West, respectively, take the mainstage. Rounding out the bill are up-and-comers (Kendrick Lamar, Haim), established acts (Nas, the Lumineers), indie-rock royalty (Grizzly Bear, Feist) and many more. governorsballmusicfestival.com. Day pass $95–$180, VIP three-day pass $470–$1,500.

  1. Randalls Island Park Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at Randalls Island
  2. Fri Jun 7–Sun Jun 9 at 11:45am
More info

Paul McCartney

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Macca may be on the cusp of his 71st birthday, but that doesn’t mean the legendary Liverpudlian is slowing his roll. His latest U.S. tour stops at the Barclays Center, and as with past shows, he’ll play several hours’ worth of solo tunes, as well as Beatles and Wings songs. Touching tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison will likely make superfans tear up, so consider yourself warned. $69.50–$304.50.

  1. Barclays Center 620 Atlantic Ave, at Flatbush Ave, 11217
  2. Sat Jun 8–Mon Jun 10 at 8pm
More info

LL Cool J + Public Enemy + Ice Cube

  • Price band: 3/4

Ladies Love Cool James has scored major,  though not necessarily positive ink as of late, from his puzzling hosting job at the Grammys (where he effectively killed the word hashtag) to an even more head-scratching guest turn on Brad Paisley’s controversial track “Accidental Racist.” He recently returned to the game with his first proper album since 2008: Authentic is a reminder of the artist who helped define hip-hop in the 1980s. Here’s hoping this show—which features fellow legends Public Enemy and Ice Cube—will be one, too. $56–$75.

  1. Roseland Ballroom 239 W 52nd St, between Broadway and Eighth Ave
  2. Thu Jun 20 at 6:30pm
More info

Belle and Sebastian + Yo La Tengo

We won’t mind if indie-rock heroes Belle and Sebastian bring some Scottish rain with them for this alfresco date—the sunny sweetness of their extensive catalog will keep audiences swaying happily. The band hasn’t cut a new disc since 2010’s Write About Love, though it recently found a home on the soundtrack of neurotic romantic comedy Girls—a  perfect match, if you ask us. Jersey alt-scene vets Yo La Tengo open. bricartsmedia.org/cb, $42.50.

  1. Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell) Prospect Park West, at 9th St
  2. Thu July 11 at 7pm
More info

Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake

  • Critics choice

These newly minted BFFs are taking their recent collaborative efforts—showcased on JT’s comeback album, The 20/20 Experience—on the road for this season’s Legends of the Summer tour. With a name like that, you need an appropriately outsize venue—and Yankee Stadium should fit the bill quite nicely. $49–$279.50.

  1. Yankee Stadium 1 E 161st St, between Jerome and River Aves
  2. Fri Jul 19–Sat Jul 20 at 8pm
More info

Beyoncé

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Bey’s media saturation has reached a new level in the past year or so, what with her Super Bowl appearance; the birth of her first child, Blue Ivy; the premiere of her HBO documentary, Life Is but a Dream; and the launch of her latest world tour, the Mrs. Carter Show. Unsurprisingly, tickets to the New York leg sold out at lightning speed, so you’re relegated to StubHub and the like if you want to hear hits like “Countdown” or “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” live. Izod Center, sold out. • Barclays Center, sold out. • Times subject to change.

  1. Various Locations 620 Atlantic Ave, at Flatbush Ave, 11217
  2. Wed Jul 31 at 8pm, Sat Aug 3–Mon Aug 5 at 8pm
More info

Black Sabbath

  • Price band: 3/4

The headbanging faithful drooled over a 2011 announcement that the original Black Sabbath lineup—the first and greatest heavy-metal band—was reuniting. That all fell apart last year, when drummer Bill Ward broke ranks over a contract dispute, but the train rolled on without him. Here you’ll witness a not-too-shabby 75 percent of Sabbath 1.0, pounding out doom & roll chestnuts and selections from a hotly anticipated new disc, 13. $45–$150.

  1. PNC Bank Arts Center Exit 116, Garden State Pkwy
  2. Sun Aug 4 at 7:30pm
More info


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Michele Pulice

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