New York might be one of the most prohibitively expensive places to live in the world, but every now and then it throws us some solid freebies. Summer concerts is one. Mark your calendars, because here are twenty of the best free shows to catch this summer, from music festivals like SummerStage, to a concert series at the Surf Lodge.
New York’s largest annual outdoor summer music festival has its hub at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield, but spreads its 100+ shows across 16 parks throughout all five boroughs. And with the exception of a handful of ticketed benefit shows, the majority are free. Here are a few on our radar; find the complete list here.
Mavis Staples/Toshi Reagon, June 3, Central Park
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, June 11, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Digable Planets/Natasha Driggs, June 21, Coffey Park, Red Hook
Yo la Tengo/Ultimate Painting on July 17, Central Park
GZA July 23, Corporal Thompson Park, Staten Island
Joshua Redman Quartet, August 23, Tompkins Square Park
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!
The beloved Brooklyn-based summer concert series takes place every year at the Prospect Park Bandshell, with mostly free performances and a few benefit concerts. Here are a handful we’re psyched about; find the full list here:
The Soul Rebels, June 24
Robert Randolph & the Family Band, July 13
Andrew Bird, July 28
Bela Fleck, August 3
Nels Cline, August 5
Whitney, August 11
Rockefeller Center, the Today Show
Early risers (The Today Show airs at 7 a.m., but fans are advised to arrive at 5 am, as it’s first come, first served) can check big names at these free concert tapings at Rockefeller Center. Mary J Blige performs on Friday, May 19, with Miley Cyrus on May 26, Halsey, June 9, DNCE, on July 21, and Fitz and the Tantrums on July 28. Full list here.
Surf Lodge, Montauk
It’s a hike, but worth the trek for the chance to catch big acts, for free, at one of The End’s hippest venues. Head out on the L.I.R.R. for one night or make a beach weekend around one of these summer shows, including Kurt Vile on June 25, Bully on July 2, and Jenny Lewis, August 19. Full list here.