New York is the greatest city in the world for music lovers, and musicians agree; they’ve written many a tune about it. (For proof, just check out our 100 best NYC songs.) Seeing a great show doesn’t have to mean reaching into your wallet, believe it or not. In fact, you can even check out some of the city's best parties without spending a single penny. All it takes is a little planning beforehand—which is where we've got your covered with our top free concerts NYC has to offer. And if you've saved up a little here and there, be sure to check out our full list of concerts in NYC for more opportunities to catch your favorite artists in town!
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Free concerts in NYC this summer
Mighty-lunged vocal sensation Porter, who netted a well-deserved Grammy last year for his sharp 2016 set, Take Me to the Alley, plays the opening show for the staple seasonal concert series SummerStage. At the gig—as well as his two follow-up shows at new midtown venue Sony Hall—expect to hear from his stellar third Blue Note album, Nat King Cole & Me, a fervent tribute to his idol released late last year.
The Chicago rap vet—who recently joined Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins under the moniker August Greene for a joint LP—returns to the city to kick off BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!’s 2018 season. Whether he plays upbeat hits like 2005’s kinetic “Go!” or sensuous newer singles like “Love Star,” you can expect a silky-smooth, danceable start to your summer.
Celebrate the Purple One's 60th birthday on Nowadays's outdoor dance floor. Skilled selectors DJ Lindsey, Duane Harriott and Josh Dunn dig up "b-sides, demos and live recordings" to play alongside Prince's sizeable catalog of hits.
The Thin White Duke is always in season. Ensemble LPR hits Central Park for a reimagining of Bowie’s catalog with an appearance by the Donny McCaslin Group, which served as the backing band on his swan song, Blackstar.
This freebie celebrates the 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women list, published last year by NPR Music. Focusing on the new generation of artists, the show brings pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen, R&B vocalist Jamila Woods and Americana group I’m With Her to the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.
On its latest album, Luciferian Towers, the Canadian collective channels an orchestral cacophony, layering frantic arrangements of violins, horns and drums with killer riffs. The band patiently builds toward huge musical moments, which should sound absolutely glorious in Brooklyn’s finest green space.
The ’90s indie act still rocks with insouciantly punky cool. Its reunited lineup, with sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson, plays behind a strong new release, All Nerve, for an entry fee of absolutely zilch.
Recording under the alias of Porches, Aaron Maine has managed to create the musical representation of the shy, awkward teenager in every John Hughes movie. For this triple threat, Porches plays alongside rocking NYC trio Sunflower Bean and the jazzy, grooving up-and-coming quartet Crumb.
This year’s edition of the city’s roaming ode to Bird features another boundary-pushing bill, which includes the new lineup of jazz trio the Bad Plus (with Orrin Evans on keys), R&B-inspired trumpeter Keyon Harrold and Adam O’Farrill, the postbopping son of bandleader Arturo (and grandson of the equally legendary Chico).