The best NYC concerts and music festivals in July

Jay Z, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Flume and Neutral Milk Hotel headline July’s sizzling NYC concert schedule

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Jay Z

Jay Z Photograph: Jon Klemm


Andrew Bird & the Hands of Glory | Central Park SummerStage Mainstage; July 8

  • Free

Magic-fingered multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird crafts hypnotic violin pop with his band, the Hands of Glory, as heard on a new disc, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…, which offers covers of beloved country balladeers the Handsome Family.

  1. Central Park SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
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Sky Ferreira | Music Hall of Williamsburg; July 9

Everyone's favorite downtown pop wunderkind headlines a benefit for the David Lynch Foundation, which stages Transcendental Meditation programs for veterans, battered women, and people who are homeless and incarcerated. Smart move, Sky: After posing topless on your album cover, getting arrested for drug possession and befriending Miley, this is the only thing that could surprise us—and pleasantly so. Ladies Night and the Rapture's Vito Roccoforte handle DJ duties.

  1. Music Hall of Williamsburg 66 North 6th St, between Kent and Wythe Aves
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DIIV + LODRO + Regal Degal | Music Hall of Williamsburg; July 10, 11

Working as DIIV, Zachary Cole Smith & Co. blend shoegaze, pyschedelia and a pounding postpunk beat to dreamily delicious effect. Brooklyn psych-rockers Lodro and postpunks Regal Degal round out the bill.

  1. Music Hall of Williamsburg 66 North 6th St, between Kent and Wythe Aves
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Katy Perry | Madison Square Garden; July 9. Prudential Center; July 11. Barclays Center; July 24, 25.

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 roar in support of last year's blockbuster Prism.

Jay Z + Beyoncé | MetLife Stadium; July 11, 12

Lately Mr. and Mrs. Carter have been hitting headlines more for the infamous Solange elevator incident than for their pop prowess, so these On the Run shows should act as a reminder of how great they are at, you know, making music. We can't even imagine how insane "Drunk in Love"—or "Crazy in Love," for that matter!—is going to get.

Phish | Randalls Island Park; July 11–13

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.

  1. Randalls Island Park Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at Randalls Island
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4Knots Music Festival | South Street Seaport; July 12

  • Free

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, pictured, and noise-doused buzz band Speedy Ortiz, as well as impish neo-lite-rocker Mac DeMarco and fuzz-pop overlords Dinosaur Jr.

  1. South Street Seaport 19 Fulton St, at Front St
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Alexis Taylor + The Yum Dee Days | Rough Trade NYC; July 14

Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor showcases his sensitive side on his second solo LP, Await Barbarians. Don't expect an HC-style dance party; rather, Taylor delivers tender melodies with a subdued intimacy that's tough to resist.

  1. Rough Trade NYC 64 North 9th St, between Kent and Wythe Aves, 11249
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Bruno Mars + Pharrell Williams | Madison Square Garden; July 14, 15

  • Critics choice

Hear one Bruno Mars hit and you might dismiss it as sentimental fluff; hear a handful (the "Beat It"–gone-Police groove of "Locked Out of Heaven," the timeless piano ballad "When I Was Your Man"), and you start to realize: This 28-year-old Hawaiian (born Peter Gene Hernandez) is a serious talent—and maybe even our era's consummate pop showman. Another rakish chart-topper safe enough for Mom, Pharrell Williams—the voice behind Daft Punk smash "Get Lucky" and Despicable Me 2's irresistible "Happy"—sets the stage for this stop on Mars's so-called Moonshine Jungle Tour.

  1. Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza , between 31st and 33rd Sts, 10001
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Flume | Terminal 5; July 16–18

Flume is a young beatsmith from Sydney who has spent the past few years making luscious and emotive head-nod material, both on a series of beautiful remixes (for Junior Boys, Onra, Lorde and others) and in original work, notably on a self-titled album of ethereal and hazy bass-informed synth-pop on the Future Classic label. Judging by this trio of Terminal 5 dates, the man born Harley Edward Streten is clearly doing pretty well for himself.

  1. Terminal 5 610 W 56th St, at Eleventh Ave
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Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival | Brookfield Place Plaza; July 16, 17

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.

  1. Brookfield Place Plaza 220 Vesey St, at West St, 10281
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Queen plus Adam Lambert | Madison Square Garden; July 17

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.

  1. Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave), between 31st and 33rd Sts, 10001
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Neutral Milk Hotel + Circulatory System | Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell); July 22, 23

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.

Juicy J + Project Pat | Terminal 5; July 22

Expect to hear some new tracks from Three 6 Mafia crunk party-rapper Juicy J (you know you love, or at least love to hate, "Bandz A Make Her Dance"), whose new album, The Hustle Continues, is rumored to drop at the end of summer. Joining him at this show will be Memphis MC Project Pat—who's also his big bro.

  1. Terminal 5 610 W 56th St, at Eleventh Ave
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Mahmoud Ahmed | Pioneer Works; July 26

His name might be unfamiliar to American audiences, but Mahmoud Ahmed is a staple of African pop music. You'd normally expect to catch this legendary Ethiopian singer at the globe's largest theaters—and indeed, his previous NYC shows have included performances at Lincoln Center. At Pioneer Works, though, you can get close to a musical giant who's been thrilling audiences since the 1960s.

  1. Pioneer Works 159 Pioneer St, at Imlay St
  2. Until Sat Jul 26
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Ms. Lauryn Hill | Brooklyn Bowl; July 27, 28

After spending the last couple of years weathering a legal snafu with tax evasion, hip-hop crooner queen Lauryn Hill seems ready to bounce right back with a busy tour schedule. Hard to believe it’s already been a decade and a half since the Fugee alum's universally revered neo-soulster debut collected a handy 10 Grammy nominations. Expect to hear boldly reworked versions of old favorites at these two Brooklyn gigs.

  1. Brooklyn Bowl 61 Wythe Ave, at North 11th St, 11211
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Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens | Rough Trade; July 29

  • Free

Daptone Records, the kids who safely shepherded soul singer Sharon Jones from wedding-band anonymity to semi-popstar status, have another worthy veteran on their hands with Brooklyn gospel purveyor Naomi Shelton, whose raspy delivery recalls such greats as Wilson Pickett. We adore her, and recommend seizing any chance you get to revel in her kickass songs of praise.

  1. Rough Trade NYC 64 North 9th St, between Kent and Wythe Aves, 11249
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Ingrid Michaelson + Neulore | Central Park SummerStage Mainstage; July 30

Singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson has a cute, husky voice, which she applies to pretty, quirky songs. When discussing her latest disc, Lights Out, the New York native says she's gone from "the poppy ukulele girl to platforms-and-eye-makeup pop." Well, maybe it's Maybelline, but we get the feeling this talented songstress was born with it. Nashville folk duo Neulore opens.

  1. Central Park SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
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Bettye LaVette | Robert F. Wagner Park; July 31

  • Free

More than 50 years into a career that has taken her from the R&B charts to Motown and Broadway, raspy-voiced soul singer Bettye LaVette is making the most of her long-delayed close-up. Here, as part of the River & Blues series, she gigs at the southern tip of Manhattan.

  1. Robert F. Wagner Park Battery Pl, between West St and 1st Pl
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Looking for more live music in NYC?

December

Bob Dylan, the Daptone Super Soul Revue and Billy Joel and more

January

Future Islands, Sam Smith and Jack White and more

February

Ariel Pink, Sleater-Kinney and They Might Be Giants and more

Further ahead

Grab your tickets early for alt-J, Neil Diamond, Belle and Sebastian and more



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