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Planetarium: Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly
Photograph: Prudence Upton

The best shows at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! 2017

Our top picks at this year’s edition of BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! include Conor Oberst, Bela Fleck, Fleet Foxes and more

By Ro S
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Every summer, Prospect Park’s scenic Bandshell—a massive outdoors amphitheater—hosts BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!’s diverse series of (mostly) free concerts. You can consider it Prospect Park’s answer to SummerStage (though the Brooklyn-only series started six years earlier). This year, you’ll find everything from kaleidoscopic psych-folk to the best indie-rock bands. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite shows happening this season to get you started on your summer concert going.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!

Best shows at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! 2017

Yeasayer
Photograph: Anna Palma

Yeasayer + Poliça + Cymbals Eat Guitars

Music

Arty local indie faves Yeasayer explored a hodgepodge of bizarro sounds on their last three albums ranging from pastoral freak folk to darkly psychedelic electronica. The kaleidoscopic latest, Amen & Goodbye, amalgamates elements from each of those disparate periods into a cohesive statement on the band's career thus far. For this Celebrate Brooklyn! gig, the band teams with Minneapolis outfit Poliça—a group that offers a languorous convergence of cobwebby electronics, heavy percussion and molten vocals—and shoegazers–cum–post-hardcore-heads Cymbals Eat Guitar.

Pharoah Sanders
Photograph: courtesy of the artist

Pharoah Sanders + Brooklyn Raga Massive

Music Jazz

Tenor saxist Pharoah Sanders has been a jazz titan since the late '60s, when he toured in tandem with his mentor John Coltrane, but his fire-breathing days are mostly behind him. Today he's content to carry on his colleagues' way with ballads and blues—and turn up in the occasional intriguing gig.

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Lila Downs
Photograph: Johnny Lopera

Lila Downs + Orkesta Mendoza

Music

Throaty Mexican singer-songwriter Lila Downs, a Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra friend and collaborator, visits Celebrate Brooklyn! with Orkesta Mendoza, who fuses cumbia, merengue and ranchera into a spiraling psych mix.

Musiq Soulchild
Photograph: Courtesy BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival

Musiq Soulchild + People’s Champs

Music Funk, soul and disco

Musiq Soulchild is silky-smooth R&B hit maker Taalib Johnson, who should win some kind of award for his album titles alone (the first two? Aijuswanaseing and Juslisen). Expect to hear from his latest album, Life on Earth, at this free Celebrate Brooklyn! gig.

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Quantic + Tei Shi

Music

Operating under the moniker Quantic, British musician, producer & DJ Will Holland crafts a soulful blend of electronic and latin grooves. He takes the stage at Celebrate Brooklyn alongside Brooklyn avant-garde singer Tei Shi, who performs her velvety brand of soulful future pop behind a debut LP, Crawl Space.

Planetarium: Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly
Photograph: Prudence Upton

Planetarium

Music

A supergroup of unlikely yet strangely apt collaborators, Planetarium features co-composition by indie darling Sufjan Stevens, the National's Bryce Dessner, minimalist avant-garde composer Nico Muhly and percussionist James McAlister. You can spend this outdoor Celebrate Brooklyn! gig gazing starwards, as the quartet leads you through explorations of eternal existential questions inspired by the infinite silence of that darkened void, space: what's right, what's wrong, and what does it mean to be human? Heady stuff.

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Conor Oberst
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Conor Oberst + Hop Along + Big Thief

Music Rock and indie

Singer, songwriter, bandleader and label chief Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk and sundry others) hits Prospect Park behind his latest full-length, Salutations. The album finds him revisiting his preceding effort, 2016's solitary Ruminations, this time with a full band in tow. As usual, Oberst isn’t pushing any limits with his quavery-voiced indie folk, but his plainspoken-troubadour style will sound just right in this open-air gig.

Andrew Bird
Photograph: Cameron Wittig

Andrew Bird + Esperanza Spalding

Music Rock and indie

The Chicago song man brings his trademark violin plucks and looped whistling to Celebrate Brooklyn! behind last year's, Are You Serious, which trades in sophisticated arrangements of intricate, tautly wound (but oh so understated) instrumental flourishes. Grammy-winning jazz bassist/composer Esperanza Spalding opens, whose last project, the ambitious Emily's D+Evolution, was part experimental theater, part power trio.

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Fleet Foxes

Music Folk, country and blues

The wildly popular Fleet Foxes hit town for some benefit gigs behind their first album in six years, Crack-Up. If the first two singles from the effort, "Third of May / Ōdaigahara" and "Fools' Errand," are any indication, the Seattle outfit hasn't missed a beat. The band's warm pop-folk stylings, swirling around singer Robin Pecknold's haunting voice, will no doubt sound even more expansive under an open sky. Don't be surprised if you get lost in them.

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Photograph: Courtesy BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones + Nellie McKay

Music

The virtuosic banjo player is a staple on the jam-band circuit, but even those who don't live for perfectly executed impromptu fusion wizardry might know Fleck's work—he and his Flecktones composed incidental music for the Weather Channel. Catch him at a free outdoor gig for Celebrate Brooklyn!

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5842121am, Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock (5842121am)Whitney - Julien Ehrlich, Max KakacekReading Festival, Day 2, UK - 27 Aug 2016
Photograph: Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock

Whitney + Moses Sumney + Weyes Blood

Music Rock and indie

Headed by guitarist Max Kakacek and singer-drummer Julien Ehrlich—of Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, respectively—this Chicago indie-rock outfit has been filling bigger and bigger spaces with each NYC visit. No wonder: Its 2016 debut, Light Upon the Lake, is a deeply satisfying album steeped in ’70s country and soft rock and bouyed by Ehrlich's honeyed falsetto vocals.

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