Summer concerts in NYC: full concert schedule for New York shows

We’ve rounded up the top summer concerts of 2014, along with the best free shows, festivals and world-music picks at clubs and outdoor venues all over NYC

Photograph: John Klemm
Central Park in New York: SummerStage

Start hoarding sunscreen: Your guide to the best summer concerts of 2014 has arrived. Plan out your summer in New York with our picks for the best warm-weather gigs, including free concerts, jazz concerts, hip-hop shows and more.

RECOMMENDED: See all concerts in NYC

2014 Celebrate Brooklyn! lineup

St. Vincent and Nickel Creek highlight Brooklyn’s signature series of free outdoor gigs

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SummerStage 2014 lineup

Featuring everyone from Beck to Amanda Palmer, it’s time to get yourself to these (mostly) free concerts

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Governors Ball 2014

The blockbuster fest returns with a lineup that screams early aughts: the Strokes, Interpol and OutKast

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Parquet Courts interview

Get to know the ace Brooklyn rock quartet before it blows up

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Summer music festival guide

The best concerts, most stylish festival accessories, hottest festival looks and dazzling live-music photos

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The 10 best summer concerts in 2014

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Janelle Monáe

Chalk up the meteoric ascent of Kansas City, KS, spitfire Janelle Monáe to the tenacity and focus of the supremely ambitious and genuinely driven. The Electric Lady, Janelle Monáe's 2013 sophomore LP, continued the loosely knit saga of Cindi Mayweather, an android cast in messianic terms. It was grandiose science fiction, sure; still, you couldn't miss tense undercurrents of isolation, discrimination and persecution. Following in the African-American escapist footsteps of Sun Ra and George Clinton, Monáe couched messages of deliverance in trappings so fantastical that they disarmed opposition—but what you noticed most, hearing her go toe-to-toe with Prince, Miguel, Erykah Badu and Solange on The Electric Lady, is how easy she made it all seem. Here, the mothership touches down in Prospect Park, where Monáe opens the 36th season of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series with a gratis gig.

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The Governors Ball Music Festival

The blockbuster three-day fest returns, sporting a lineup that screams early aughts: the Strokes, Jack White, TV on the Radio, Interpol and, oh yes, the much ballyhooed return of Atlanta alt-hip-hop funkateers OutKast. Other big draws include local-boys-made-good Vampire Weekend, dubstep renegade Skrillex, U.K. house sensation Disclosure, soul fantasist Janelle Monáe, and Odd Future cronies Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. Visit governorsballmusicfestival.com for the full scoop.

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Phish

The peerless jam band has come back with a vengeance since re-emerging five years ago and Trey Anastasio & Co. have plotted yet another epic summer tour. The Vermont quartet’s East Coast run includes this trio of gigs at Randall’s Island, where they’ve never played before. The shows are sure to feature some new songs from the group’s upcoming album, tentatively entitled Wingsuit.

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Neutral Milk Hotel + Circulatory System

Jeff Mangum’s reunited cult indie-rockers played six New York–area gigs in January. The group’s shows have been selling out so swiftly—and garnering such praiseworthy, nostalgic reviews—that they’ve continually bolstered their already-massive tours. Here, the Elephant 6 torchbearers (still best remembered for their 1998 magnum opus, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea) take their singing saws and brass section outdoors.

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The Monster Tour: Eminem x Rihanna

Rihanna guested last year on Eminem’s tune, “The Monster,” the duo’s fourth blockbuster collaboration. This tour was the next logical step. The two headliners strike a nice balance—Em’s crass, harsh hip-hop countered by Rihanna’s stylish, poppy R&B. And no doubt about it: Both of these self-proclaimed Monsters possess a indisputably wicked edge.

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Willie Nelson & Family + Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas + Kacey Musgraves

Roots-music bills don't come any more solid than this one, topped by mellow outlaw-country figurehead Willie Nelson, and rounded out by veteran songsmith and recent Robert Plant collaborator Alison Krauss—collaborating here with slide-guitar and pedal-steel ace Jerry Douglas—and Texas up-and-comer Kacey Musgraves, who scored a breakout hit with last year's Same Trailer Different Park.

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Tune-Yards

Merrill Garbus airs offbeat party-starters from her new, third LP, Nikki Nack. We anticipate utter dance-floor meltdown once the irrepressible art-pop diva kicks into her effervescent, aptly named single "Water Fountain."

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Queen plus Adam Lambert

No one can replace Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant icon who fronted Queen until his untimely death in 1991. But among the pretenders to the throne thus far, none has matched the flash and moxie of American Idol runner-up Lambert, whose succesful prior outings with Brian May and Roger Taylor prompted this crazy little summer tour.

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Katy Perry

Six years on from "I Kissed a Girl," Katy Perry is still here, and then some. Far from the novelty starlet many initially pegged her as, she's evolved into the signature cotton-candy-fied pop princess of our time, a Dr. Luke–abetted megahit factory unto herself. Turn up for these big gigs, and hear Perry unleash her post–John Mayer–breakup roar in support of last year's blockbuster Prism.

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Nine Inch Nails + Soundgarden + Death Grips

’Scuse us, what year is it, again? Though both Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden have comeback albums to promote—the impressive Hesitation Marks and the disappointing King Animal, respectively—you know you're going to hear plenty from these alt-rock icons' signature discs, NIN's The Downward Spiral and Chris Cornell & Co.'s Superunknown, which, crazily, dropped on the same day in March of ’94. The addition of noise-rap provocateurs Death Grips should lend a scrappy contemporary edge to this retro-minded bill.

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Summer concerts by month

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January

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February

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March

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Best free summer concerts in NYC

Thee Oh Sees

John Dwyer & Co. freaked out garage-rock fans when they announced a hiatus at the end of last year. Luckily for that lot—and anyone who likes their riffs big, bad, meaty and pogoworthy—that break didn’t last. The Cali crew returned this spring, releasing the excellent LP Drop; now it hits town for this rare, sun-soaked appearance. Trust us: This will be a blast. R.S.V.P. at northsidefestival.com. Free.

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Andrew Bird

Bird is known for playing venues that highlight his hypnotic violin pop; setting the whistling, magic-fingered multi-instrumentalist in the great outdoors promises a whole other kind of trippiness. He’ll be backed by his new band, the Hands of Glory, and probably more than a few of the flying friends with whom he shares a name. 212-360-2777, summerstage.org. Free.

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4Knots Music Festival

The Village Voice has long played a major part in free music fests. Now that its Coney Island Siren Music Festival has been retired, 4Knots is its standard-bearer. This year, South Street Seaport puts on its party hat and rolls out the indie-rock carpet for a female-heavy lineup that includes garage rockers Those Darlins, noise-doused Speedy Ortiz and headliner the Julie Ruin, which is fronted by Kathleen Hanna—erstwhile Bikini Kill and Le Tigre singer (and wife of Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz). 212-475-7446, villagevoice.com/4knots. Free.

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Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

This year’s get-down goes a long way to honor the genre that spawned it, while pushing its well-worn boundaries. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings appear, touring behind a recent effort, Give the People What They Want—a title that encapsulates the fun-loving group’s mission. (The album’s release was delayed so that Jones could get treatment for cancer.) No BS! Brass Band, Robert Cray, John Hiatt and James Carter are also on the docket. 212-417-7000, brookfieldplaceny.com/blues. Free.

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St. Vincent

The year isn’t half over, but it already looks like 2014 belongs to St. Vincent, née Annie Clark: Fresh off a tour with David Byrne, she immediately churned out her new, self-titled record. The album contains the kind of self-confident musings that have made St. Vincent the reigning queen of indie rock, including the gem “Oh what an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate” on the single “Birth in Reverse.” 718-683-5600, bricartsmedia.org/cb. Free.

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Blood Orange

Cupid Deluxe, Devonté Hynes’s second record as Blood Orange, is a complex, swirling affair—packed with R&B, pop, blues and even jazz, it’s an upbeat ode to dance one moment and a soul-searching dirge the next. Formerly the man behind Lightspeed Champion, Hynes knows his way around a switchboard, producing unexpected, robust combinations of sounds. At SummerStage, he’s sure to lean on the more sexual numbers, sending the masses into the humid August night soaked in sweat. 212-360-2789, summerstage.org. Free.

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Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

Once again, the city becomes a movable ode to Bird for a weekend in August. On Saturday, Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park welcomes a host of jazz luminaries, including Wallace Roney and his orchestra. (Roney’s former associates include a fellow by the name of Miles Davis.) Sunday the fest heads to the East Village’s Tompkins Square Park, which Parker used to overlook in the 1950s from his apartment on Avenue B; NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron takes the headlining slot. Marcus Garvey Park. Aug 23 at 3pm. • Tompkins Square Park. Aug 24 at 3pm.• 212-360-2789, summerstage.org. Free.

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Summer music festivals in NYC

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Celebrate Brooklyn! 2014

Janelle Monaé; Neutral Milk Hotel; The National; Nick Cave and the Bad SeedsSummerStage may be bigger and better-known, but Celebrate Brooklyn! has been around for much longer. And yes, it's worth the trek to Brooklyn—not only is the Bandshell a beaut, but the roster is often packed with interesting artists (recent alums include They Might Be Giants, Belle & Sebastian and Big Boi.) This year, the fest is kicking off its 36th season in style, with groovy R&B spitfire Janelle Monaé playing the first free concert on June 4. Benefit shows from reunited cult heroes Neutral Milk Hotel and Brooklyn indie royalty the National will follow, and expect a bevy of free concerts and film screenings to be announced as it gets closer to summer.

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The Governors Ball Music Festival

The blockbuster three-day fest returns, sporting a lineup that screams early aughts: the Strokes, Jack White, TV on the Radio, Interpol and, oh yes, the much ballyhooed return of Atlanta alt-hip-hop funkateers OutKast. Other big draws include local-boys-made-good Vampire Weekend, dubstep renegade Skrillex, U.K. house sensation Disclosure, soul fantasist Janelle Monáe, and Odd Future cronies Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. Visit governorsballmusicfestival.com for the full scoop.

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Vision Festival 19

The 19th iteration of this free-jazz marathon will bestow lifetime-achievement honors on intense, unpredictable multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle. Other performers and honorees include painter Jeff Schlanger, saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, pianist Matthew Shipp, guitarists James Blood Ulmer and Mary Halvorson, and the head-spinning collective Tarbaby.

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Northside Festival 2014

Most exciting five acts: Sharon Van Etten; Courtney Barnett; Titus Andronicus; Omar Souleyman; Beach Fossils In the five years since it began, The L Magazine's hip summer fest has gone from a small showcase for up-and-coming acts to a Brooklyn version of SXSW, with concerts, a film festival and an "innovation" component for techies. But we're still most excited about the music: Building off past successes (in 2013, headliners included the Walkmen, Solange and Black Flag), this year will feature performances from Brooklyn troubadour Sharon Van Etten, Jersey punk-rockers Titus Andronicus, prolific Syrian singer Omar Souleyman, and many more. (And we mean many: Approximately 400 acts will play during the music portion's four-day run.)

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Central Park SummerStage

Taking in a concert at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield is as essential a summer-in-New-York activity as a trip to Rockaway Beach. But the amazing outdoor shows aren't limited to that iconic venue: During SummerStage's three-month run, sponsored by the City Parks Foundation, a diverse roster of acts (past performers have included Pavement, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, and Beach House) plays in green spaces throughout the city's five boroughs. And the best part: Aside from a few benefit shows (mostly staged in Central Park), concerts are free—the better for you to clutch a sweaty beer can as you sway along on a hot July night.

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Electric Zoo Festival

New York—just like the rest of the world—goes gaga for EDM (electronic dance music) and shows its love at this annual three-day dayglo rave-up on Randall’s Island. In its four year history, the fest has seen headlining DJ sets and live performances from Skrillex, Deadmau5, Avicii, Pete Tong and Moby—yep, the big names. Sadly in 2013, there were two ecstasy-related deaths at the festival, and its last day was cancelled. This year’s edition is set to go ahead, however, and also sees the first installment of Electric Zoo Mexico in Mexico City in May.

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Summer concert and music festival photos

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Afropunk Fest 2014

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Things to Do

Full Moon Fest 2014

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Newport Folk Festival 2014

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Firefly Music Festival 2014

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Governors Ball 2014: The best crowd shots

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Governors Ball 2014: Sunday

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Governors Ball 2014: Saturday

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Governors Ball 2014: Friday

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Summer concert venues

Things to Do Buy tickets

SummerStage Mainstage

For more than 25 years now, the City Parks Foundation has filled summers in the park with just about every sound under the sun. This New York institution has an ear for music of every type—M.I.A., Television, and Amadou & Mariam have all played in recent years, as have Zap Mama, Nortec Collective and Neko Case. Many of the shows are free, with a handful of benefits covering for them.

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Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell)

Thanks to Celebrate Brooklyn!, the Prospect Park Bandshell is to Brooklynites what Central Park SummerStage is to Manhattan residents—the place to hear great music in the great outdoors. The programming for this summer festival mirrors the borough’s diversity: this year's series features Belle & Sebastian, Robert Plant, the Roots & Jim James, and Beck, to name a few.

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Things to Do

Williamsburg Park

Formerly the Williamsburg Waterfront, Williamsburg Park ensures that Brooklyn's hippest neighborhood will provide plenty of warm-weather concert options, ranging from punk to pop.

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Attractions

South Street Seaport, Pier 17

The former Fulton Street Fish Market building at Pier 17 was rebuilt as a high-end shopping mall in the early 1980s, but visitors can still pretend like it's the 1700s and check out the largest privately owned fleet of historic ships in the country. Come summer, concertgoers can take advantage of the free music shows held on the pier.

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Comments

1 comments
Bob
Bob

NYC! Jillette Johnson at none other than Joe's Pub 7/16 - come on out. Also you can enter your email for a free song - “Pauvre Coeur” - at: www.jillettejohnson.com