Outdoor Concerts in the NYC


Updated 5-6-09

Vampire Weekend

It was officially the first day of spring on Friday—well, according to the calendar, at least. Judging from the snowflakes in NYC that morning, Mother Nature is running on a different schedule this year. But the best part about spring is that it means we are one season closer to summer. And that means…summer concerts.

I know, I know, every year I get excited for summer concert time. And then I spend the rest of the summer lamenting the daily thunderstorms and massive crowds. But I like to think this summer will be different. First off, M. Ward is playing at Central Park Summerstage, and well, if it rains every single day of the summer except for August 1, I will consider myself lucky.

Some of the shows are already sold out—like the June 5th TV on the Radio show at Summerstage and MGMT at the Prospect Park Bandshell on July 1. But both venues make it possible for you to hang outside the gated area and listen to the music, no ticket necessary. Of course you can’t see anything, but it’s nice background music if you feel like having a picnic.

Here are links to the major outdoor festivals. The full event schedules have not been posted, but I’m sure they’ll be updated soon. I’ll be updating my own Summer Concert Calendar as new outdoor shows are added.

Celebrate Brooklyn: Prospect Park Bandshell in Park Slope. Bring a blanket and snacks. There are some folding chairs in the front, but most people bring blankets. Some concerts require tickets (usually around $30), but many are free. Note: performances are RAIN OR SHINE except where indicated on the Celebrate Brooklyn website.

Central Park Summerstage: Oh the lines…well, at least for the free shows (like Vampire Weekend last summer). Lots of eager people get here early and mark their territory with a blanket, only to find out everyone stands and moves to the front once the show starts. But there are bleachers in the back which provide some additional seating, though some of it is reserved. This is also a mix of free and ticketed events. Note: all Summerstage shows go on RAIN OR SHINE and are only canceled in the event of dangerous lightning during a performance.

River To River: These free concerts take place at a bunch of spots along the waterfront areas of Manhattan. The Avett Brothers show at Stuyvesant High School was the highlight for me last year. Some venues from 2008: Battery Park, Castle Clinton, Rockefeller Park, South Street Seaport, and World Financial Center. They do a free ticketed Fourth of July show in Battery Park (past performers include Sonic Youth and The New Pornographers). This year it’s Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band along with Jenny Lewis.

Seaport Music Festival: This is part of the River to River festival. Nice outdoor shows at South Street Seaport on Friday nights. Bonus: scenery includes the illuminated Brooklyn Bridge.

Hudson River Rocks: These free shows take place along the Hudson River, at Pier 54 (at 14th street). This summer’s lineup features Yeasayer, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, and Matt & Kim.


2 Responses to “Outdoor Concerts in the NYC”

  1. 1 Kate

    Am I reading the M. Ward concert info right? It’s on a Saturday and FREE?! Should I plan to put this on my calendar and make an NYC weekend out of it??

  2. well, that’s the word on the street (and by street I mean nytimes.com). But, yes, you should come.

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