Free summer concerts in NYC
Everything that won't cost you a dime.
Thu May 21 2009
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
Orange numbers indicate outdoor concerts
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24 Easy Star All-Stars
Stuy Town’s Music on the Oval series is billed as family-friendly; hopefully your family is down for blazing a fat spliff tonight. The All-Stars put reggae and dub spins on classic material, having previously tackled Pink Floyd and Radiohead. Now they’ve gone after the Beatles with the recent Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band. The results can be hilarious and are always impressive. Stuyvesant Town Oval. 7pm.
27 Steven Bernstein’s Baby Loves Jazz
Trumpeter Steven Bernstein has the mind of a pop-music savant, the soul of a downtown hipster and the blues-enriched sound of a venerable trad-jazz hornman. Fresh off a tour with Levon Helm and John Prine, Bernstein hits Roosevelt Island with Baby Loves Jazz, a project that offers a swinging take on kiddie fare like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Roosevelt Live. 4pm.
4 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band + Jenny Lewis
Every July 4, the River to River festival throws a huge, free concert at Battery Park. This year, the day is presided over by one of indie rock’s most thoughtful songwriters, young Manhattanite Conor Oberst, performing with his non--Bright Eyes outfit. Oberst’s songs touch on New York, his Midwest roots and political protest. Talented opener Jenny Lewis has been a child actor and a member of Rilo Kiley; she has lived to sing about both. Battery Park. 3:30pm.
7 Scanner + Mountains
The Winter Garden may be a great place to do lunchtime shopping or takeout-munching, but the atrium is also ideal for seeing live music. Tonight both Scanner and Mountains offer experimental ambience—by turns ominous and blissful—that’s sure to mesmerize (or unnerve) any clueless passersby. Winter Garden at the World Financial Center. 9pm.
8 Juana Molina + Curumin
Juana Molina began her showbiz career not as a singer-songwriter, but rather as a television comedy star in her native Argentina. Her music is bubbly, poppy and soft—yet deeper and artier than it first seems. At SummerStage, she headlines a night of artists from Argentina and Brazil, including So Paulo’s Curumin. Central Park SummerStage. 7pm.
9 Matt and Kim
Having recently ignited an online firestorm with their video for “Lessons Learned,” which features them streaking through Times Square, this button-cute Brooklyn indie-pop duo serenades its legions of fans at scenic Pier 54. You can safely expect plenty of catcalled requests for nudity—if not the actual thing. Pier 54, Hudson River Park. 7pm.
10 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart may never live down the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine comparisons (are we the only ones hearing the Stone Roses?), but no matter: The local quartet’s brand of dreamy shoegaze is nonetheless a bright addition to the indie scene. South Street Seaport. 6pm.
18 Q-Tip + Chester French
Adenoidal hip-hop icon Q-Tip, frontman for seminal combo A Tribe Called Quest, serves up some of the loose-limbed, funky jams from his latest solo disc, The Renaissance. Sharing the show is Chester French, a pop duo fledged at Harvard University and currently the toast of the hip-hop elite. Central Park SummerStage. 3pm.
18 Siren Festival with Built to Spill + The Raveonettes + Frightened Rabbit + Monotonix and more
This annual summer festival can be a bitch to deal with, but year in and year out, the lineup makes it worth braving the sweaty crowds. This July’s docket boasts a major coup (Built to Spill) as well as cult artists (the Raveonettes, Monotonix) and emerging indies. More announcements about the lineup are coming down the pike; keep your eyes peeled (siren.villagevoice.com/siren) and stock up on sunscreen. Coney Island. Noon.
1 M. Ward + Mike Watt and Nels Cline
The indie masses will turn out for quiet troubadour M. Ward, still riding high on the smashing success of his She & Him collaboration with Zooey Deschanel. But what’s got us particularly psyched on this bill is the opening act, which pairs erstwhile Minuteman and sometime Stooge Mike Watt with avant-guitar god (and Wilco member) Nels Cline. Central Park SummerStage. 7pm.
3 Bla Fleck and Toumani Diabat
A meeting of two dazzling virtuosic talents: NYC’s Bla Fleck plays banjo with the kind of lightning skill that makes grown instrumentalists weep, while Mali’s Diabat approaches the traditional kora with exquisite dexterity. The pairing is a result of Fleck’s estimable Africa Project, a 15-city tour that sought to associate the banjo with its true home continent, and produced some truly breathtaking collaborations. Central Park SummerStage. 7:30pm.
6,7 Rokia Traor
With her latest disc, Tchamantch, Malian singer Rokia Traor wraps her beautiful, velvety voice around moody blues and joyous Afrobeats alike. Be prepared to gape at her lovely vocals, and also to get up and shimmy.Aug 6: BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival at MetroTech. Noon. Aug 7: Damrosch Park Bandshell. 7:30pm.
8 Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail + Liquid Liquid
What’s gutsier than booking an avant-garde symphony for 200 electric guitars? Booking it again after it was rained out the first time. Lincoln Center takes another crack at presenting Chatham’s A Crimson Grail—and presumably this time there will be a rain contingency plan. Opening is seminal NYC mutant-disco combo Liquid Liquid, source of the killer groove under Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines.” Damrosch Park Bandshell. 7:30pm.
13 Yeasayer The Yeasayer crew has been relatively quiet as of late, which only ups our anticipation of this appearance. While the show is sure to be heavy on tunes from one of 2007’s great records, their All Hour Cymbals, you’ll likely hear new songs, too. Let the electronic neofolk ring out upon the masses! Pier 54, Hudson River Park. 7pm.
16 Dinosaur Jr. + The WalkmenBesides sporting the year’s oddest and most awesome cover art—showcasing two stoned-looking giants made of grass—Dino’s forthcoming Farm features some of the strongest tuneage yet. Expect loud, shaggy fun. Also tonight: NYC vets and perennially solid rockers the Walkmen. Central Park SummerStage. 3pm.
INDEX NYC summer concert guide
Your next three months—planned.