Start hoarding sunscreen and pull your sunglasses out of storage: Here are the top summer concerts (in chronological order) NYC music lovers should not miss! Plan out your summer in New York with our picks for the best warm-weather gigs and summer music festivals, including plenty of indie-rock bands, world-class DJs, hip-hop artists and more.
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Best summer concerts in NYC
Each June, nearly 300 gigs are held in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick as part of the Northside Festival. But for our money, the show to see is this alfresco affair in McCarren Park, a perfect setting for an “alt-R&B” star whose cuts, like the self-explanatory “Do You,” bask in bouyant, Prince-like psychedelia.
The seven-year-old boutique festival lives up to its name: During the day, performers take the stage on Governors Island’s serene waterfront, and at night, the action moves to a not-yet-disclosed, after-hours location in Kings County for sets from Kanye protégé Vic Mensa, next-generation R&B phenomenon Kelela and glitter-folk eccentric Connan Mockasin.
Twenty years after his death, Nigerian singer, multi-instrumentalist and political revolutionary Fela Kuti’s artistic daring continues to be as inspiring as his actual music. Here his torch is picked up by jazz-funk legend Roy Ayers and Fela’s son Seun, who leads one of his dad’s best-loved combos, Egypt 80.
Zimmer’s bombastic, brass-heavy scores for the likes of The Thin Red Line, The Dark Knight trilogy and Interstellar have not only reshaped the sound of modern cinema, they’ve also influenced pop. Need proof? Just check out how often hip-hop artists lift the blaring horns in Inception’s score. Here’s your chance to experience the German genius’s work firsthand, with a full orchestra in one of NYC’s most majestic theaters.
The weekly outdoor boozing-and-dancing series Warm Up is back, people! This late-summer gig boasts Dan Snaith, best known for mixing folky songwriting and electronic sounds under his Caribou moniker. But with his side project Daphni, he dives into full-blown floor-filling dance music. He’s joined here on an exciting triple bill by the eccentric singer-songwriter John Maus and the noise-loving protest poet Moor Mother.
Like the rest of this globe-spanning, fashionable festival franchise, the original Brooklyn edition is a celebration of forward-thinking black music that’s come to span genres far outside punk. This year’s bill is a doozy, including beat-making phenomenon Kaytranada, grime legend Dizzee Rascal and avant-funk hero Thundercat, among many others.