Summer Music Preview 

New York City has the best free outdoor summer music in the entire world. Better than France, better than China, even better than Spain. So don't miss it.

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311, Ziggy Marley, The Expendables
That this is sold out makes us question the tastes of New York's general population and has us wondering if everyone really wanted Blake Lewis to win the sixth season of American Idol after all... Everyone, except for you, dear reader, who we like to think staunchly agrees that rap-metal-ska fusion only sounded good in 1997 and finds joy in the fact that a band called the Expendables is also playing. June 25, 5pm. SOLD OUT.

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Explosions in the Sky, Constantines
The sprawling post-rock of Explosions in the Sky can make almost anything seem more dramatic, so feel free just to stand sort of near Central Park's Summerstage, lending gravitas to your normal park activities. Bonus points for reenacting the deep drama of their Friday Night Lights film score with a touch-football game that's just way more emotionally devastating than usual. June 30, 5:30pm. $25.

Matisyahu, Umphrey's McGee
Matisyahu sorta looks like this guy we know from South Williamsburg. Except in this case, he happens to be a hugely successful reggae-infused hip-hopper with a flair for beatboxing. Same beard and hat though. July 9, 5:30pm. $35.

Alpha Blondy & The Solar System, Lee "Scratch" Perry & Dubblestandart
Alpha Blondy is a West African reggae singer who's achieved widespread notoriety pretty much everywhere in the world except here in the States, despite winning a Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 1993. He's known as much for his political activism as his music, specifically fighting for causes relevant to his native Ivory Coast. July 19, 3pm. FREE.

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M. Ward, Mike Watt & Nels Cline, Yuka Honda and Dougie Bowne
If there's one show this summer where we want all the artists to get onstage together and take part in a good, old-fashioned all-star jam it's this one. M. Ward, best known for his folksy, rickety Americana, is no slouch on the guitar. Wilco guitarist Nels Cline is one of the most innovative and recognizable guitarists alive, and Mike Watt has been known to play a spot of bass. August 1, 7pm. FREE.

Bela Fleck and Toumani Diabate
If one instrument represents dusty roads and the heat of summer, it's the banjo. Lucky for us, Bela Fleck plays one better than just about anyone out there. He'll be joined by Toumani Diabat, an acclaimed Malian harpist, for an evening of laidback vibes appealing to both Dave Matthew fans and hardcore roots enthusiasts. A screening of Throw Down Your Heart, a documentary about Fleck's trip to Africa to explore the origins of the banjo, follows. August 3, 7:30 pm.

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Connor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band with Jenny Lewis
After two years of July 4th shows featuring first Belle and Sebastian (Scottish) and then New Pornographers (Canadian), they finally got a couple Yanks to help you celebrate your independence. Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band will be playing selections from their quite good new record, while Jenny Lewis will likely feature songs from her scattered but also good Acid Tongue. Then they'll probably sing some songs together and you will wish you were as attractive as they are. July 4, 3:30pm. FREE.

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We sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be at the original Woodstock, but then we quickly remember that we probably would have skipped it because it was hot, there were no beds, and no television, let alone DVRs to record everything we would have been missing. These four-night series commemorating the 40th anniversary of the festival are far more palatable. And Richie Havens totally uses his thumb to fret the low E string, which is still awesome. 7pm, FREE.

July 16: Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra Plays the Music of Sly & the Family Stone: "It's a Family Affair"

July 23: Richie Havens

July 30: Arlo Guthrie

August 6: John Kelly Sings the Joni Mitchell Songbook: "Songs for a Shiny Hot Night"

Near Battery Park City

Ian Hunter
Bowie actually wrote Mott the Hoople's biggest hit, "All the Young Dudes," so you can cut their 70-year-old ex-frontman Ian Hunter some slack during the inevitable moment of his free Rockefeller Park show when he's forced to sing short-sighted lyrics about reaching the untenable old age of 25. Feel free to confront him for the factual inaccuracies in "Cleveland Rocks," though. June 24, 7pm, FREE.

Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt is the type of artist who plays at something called the Snowbird Mountain Music Festival and also Bonnaroo. Somewhere between the two, she'll be bringing her subdued, Emmylou-inspired country songs to Rockefeller Park. Bring a blanket, stick a daisy in your hair, don't shave your legs for a week, ladies. This will be just like that time you went to Lilith Fair. July 1, 7pm, FREE.

Go to for more information.

Luminescent Orchestrii
A whirl of Weimar-era waltzing, gypsy punk and costumed theatrics make Luminescent Orchestrii sound right at home on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack or backing up the Dresden Dolls, or, hell, at the World Financial Center Plaza, as long as it's a humid day with low-hung clouds and there's a few smokers in the crowd giving the overall sensation of a dingy, underground cabaret. July 9, 12: 30pm, FREE.

Go to for more information.

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Here We Go Magic with Bachelorette
Brooklyn's Luke Temple has been peddling his hazy wares around the country during Here We Go Magic's supporting slot for the beloved Grizzly Bear. Once back-home, they'll be ready to seize the soft-focus spotlight for themsleves, they've snagged a coveted Seaport slot. They've branched out a bit for their own supporting act, and will follow Bachelorette's creeping Kiwi electro pop to the stage. July 3, 6pm. FREE.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart with Zaza and Ribbons
You might want to get there early, on account of, you know, the Pains being mega indie-rock stars and all. They'll have just wrapped an extensive European tour, presumably honing the fuzzed-out pop of their debut LP and should be ready and eager to play for a hometown crowd of adorably dressed boys and girls. July 10, 6pm. FREE.

Superchunk with Versus
Lest you thought New York City was completely devoid of those weird, former radio program directors who wear khakis, pumas and tattered band t-shirts, rest assured, they will be out in droves for this one. And good on 'em, we say, 'cause while their fashion sense always left quite a bit to be desired, they were right to champion bands like Superchunk, with their boundless energy and truly original sound, despite rarely straying from the guitar/bass/drums set-up. July 17, 6pm. FREE.

Black Moth Super Rainbow with Blank Dog and Dan Friel
The South Street Seaport should be a perfect setting for Black Moth Super Rainbow's wide-scope psychedelia. Openers Blank Dogs and Parts and Labor's Dan Friel are much better suited to dank, packed clubs. Luckily there's always the second entertainment level of observing freaked-out families of Pizzeria Uno patrons to take into account.July 24, 6pm. FREE.

Polvo, Obits
Man, it's like 1995 all over again in New York City this summer, first with Superchunk and Versus playing, and now Polvo, a terribly underrated noise-rock band that came from the Chapel Hill scene back before the Chapel Hill scene didn't really exist anymore. New York City's Obits fit nicely on the bill, featuring Rick Froberg, formerly of Drive Like Jehu and Rocket From the Crypt. July 31, 6pm. FREE.

Casiokids, The Wave Pictures, Slow Club
With their cutesy, spacey dance-pop in tow, Casiokids may have the biggest name recognition, but they're not necessarily the ones you need to see. That's because the Wave Pictures have a song called "Now You Are Pregnant," and it's a bittersweet ballad towing the line between twee and folk and namedrops Johnny Cash multiple times. And then there's Slow Club, a girl-boy duo whose sing-along songs are so endearing and infectious, they could dress up like Care Bears and you probably wouldn't even find it nauseating. August 7, 6pm. FREE.

Go to for more information All shows are FREE, with a suggested $3 donation.

David Rudder and Samantha Thornhill
David Rudder is widely considered one of the top calypsonians of all time. If you were not surprised that, yes, "calysponian" is a legitimate word, perhaps you were already aware. The rest of us could stand to start our further education with a certified legend of the form. June 19, 7:30pm.

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Ethel and Gutbucket
Ethel, a rock-driven, post-classical string quartet, joins forces with the avant art-rock crazies of Gutbucket to re-score the vintage Mexican science fiction film, La Nave De Los Monstruous (The Monsters' Ship). Rest assured, aliens are involved. June 20, 7:30pm.

Blonde Redhead
It's as yet unclear whether we'll see a follow up to Blonde Redhead's dreamy 23 this year, but you can bet their Prospect Park set will be peppered with previews. Once upon a time, the band's cold, cerebral tunes might have felt out of place in the fresh park air, but they've chilled out since then. Lay down a blanket, join the mellowing. June 26, 7:30pm.

Dr. Dog, Phosphorescent, These United States
It looks like the Beards of Brooklyn meeting got moved to Prospect Park this month, where Dr. Dog, Phosphorescent and These United States will not only provide a soundtrack of 60s-inspired rock, heartbreaking folk, and foot-stomping country, but give (male) concertgoers a hearty spoonful of facial hair envy. June 27, 7pm.

Seeing as this show sold out quicker than you can figure out how to say "MGMT," it seems people haven't quite gotten over the duo's acid-splattered electro-rock. We worry that it might not translate well in an outdoor environment, but not enough to stop us from wanting to dance to "Kids" on a hot summer night. July 1, 5:30pm. SOLD OUT.

Ezra Jack Keats Family Concert w/ They Might Be Giants
A heartwarming exercise in silly nerd-rock indoctrination for the children of Raffi-averse parents, or a nefarious market-research ruse to gauge interest in a CGI Particle Man movie franchise (starring Bradley Cooper as Triangle Man)? Likely that first one. Don't be so cynical. July 11, 4pm.

Kronos Quartet and Luminescent Orchestrii
The most hipster-friendly string quartet on the planet has played with Björk, remixed Nine Inch Nails, and covered "Marquee Moon." David Harrington's world-renowned chamber act has also performed forward-thinking classical for more than 30 years in the course of over 3,000 performances (lest you think they're just clamoring for blog mentions). July 16, 7:30pm.

Buckwheat Zydeco and The Holmes Brothers
In 1976, Stanley Dural Jr., was just "Buckwheat," in a funk band called Buckwheat & the Hitchhikers, when a near-religious experience brought him to his new surname and master. Or perhaps the accordion just had no place in 70s funk. Man plays it well, so we'll not second-guess. July 24, 7:30pm.

Burning Spear, Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens
The good people at Celebrate Brooklyn! always exceed at spreading positive vibes. Keeping with the theme is Burning Spear, reggae's elder statesman who works an optimistic message into his jams. Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens kick off the feel-good train with a barrage of church-like soul. July 30, 7:30pm.

Dean and Britta, Crystal Stilts
Longtime music-makers Dean and Britta present original scores to Andy Warhol's silent film portrait series, one of his rarely seen projects capturing stars of NYC's 60s art scene in four-minute shots. It's not surprising that the press release for this show mentions the Velvet Underground when describing how Dean & Britta interepeted the soundtrack, is it? August 1, 7:30pm.

African Festival with King Sunny Ade, Freshly Ground, The Mandingo Ambassadors, Cheikh Mial
With performers representing Nigeria, South Africa, Guinea, Senegal, and Egypt, the impressive Brooklyn-based African Festival will present you with slightly more diversity of culture than another Park Slope indie-rock gig. Yes, even one that added a Philly band for exotic flavor. August 8, 7pm.

TV on the Radio
Though they haven't been gone long enough for us to miss them, exactly, any sort of homecoming for the borough's most epic sons is reason enough to Celebrate Brooklyn! Let us draft a correspondence to the labs of the world requestin on-demand clear-weather technology in advance. If only we had a suitably broad heading for that letter... August 11, 5:30pm.

Animal Collective
Hopefully those readers who coughed up exorbitant Craigslist sums to see Animal Collective a few weeks back saved a little cash for this two-night, open-air stand, at a Prospect Park locale that's unquestionably more ideal than the odious Terminal 5. If not, maybe you can find someone who just wants to walk around with you (just you, just you, just you, just you.) August 14, 5:30pm, SOLD OUT.

516 E River Dr.

Man Man
We read on Wikipedia that if you sweat profusely for one hour a day, you're more likely to win the lottery. We just made that up, but you will very likely sweat buckets when you see Man Man, whose madcap rock crosses early Modest Mouse with the Black Lips (sorta), and we were trying to get you excited about it. Thursday, July 16.

Slick Rick
Remember a few years back when Rick the Ruler was supposed to be deported? No? Well, it's true, this founding member of American rap's royalty is actually British and not completely legal. In a rare act of mercy, the State of New York pardoned Rick, which is how we get the rare treat of seeing him perform bejeweled with crown, scepter and gold rope, like a true Brit. Thursday, July 23.

41 Ave., Bridge Plaza, Queens

Sugar Hill Gang
The makers of hip-hop's first radio hit ("Rapper's Delight") weren't actually from the Harlem 'hood of their name, but from risibly lame Englewood, New Jersey. They also weren't a gang so much as a prototypical boy band assembled hastily by a record label producer to cash in on the burgeoning block party scene of the late 70s. And that last part is what we hope their show will feel like. Tuesday, July 14.

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Alongside Method Man, RZA and GZA, Raek has always looked tiny (he's apparently 5"8', which ain't so small), but whatever he lacks in height he over-compensates for in verbal stamina and onstage energy. Also, with his first solo album since 2003 and a new Wu-Tang record scheduled for summer releases, there's a lot to be excited about. (No word on surprise Wu cameos because then they wouldn't be surprises.) Wednesday, August 12.

Naughty by Nature
Though best known for two call-and-response pool party anthems ("Hip-Hop Hooray" and "O.P.P."), the trio from East Orange, New Jersey kept it real throughout the 90s, though since their DJ Kay Gee left in 2000 things just haven't been the same. Don't despair, though, because they made peace and are reportedly back in the studio. Maybe they'll offer a rendition of their latest summer jam. Wednesday, August 19.

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It's been a strange couple years for RJD2's John Krohn. After spending the first portion of his successful career releasing instrumental hip-hop albums on the Def Jux label, he switched gears (and labels, to XL) and released an album featuring live instruments and his own singing. The results were mixed, as was the album's reception. He's got another scheduled for release this year, so this show should give us a better idea what we're in for. June 19, 8pm. $30/$35.

The Queers, Kepi Ghoulie
When you've spent over twenty years of a career in music playing a genre generally known as "Ramones-core" you are unusually insulated from claims that you've lost your spark of originality over time. Sometimes, though, a day of drinking beer in the sun just needs to climax with unrepentant pogoing. Their native New Hampshire might need The Queers more desperately, but we suspect New York can more easily round up miscreants whose days fit that description. June 28, 6pm. $20/$25.

Carlon, Black Taxi
Carlon takes all of the heavy-hitting 60s influences, aka the Beatles, and adds a bit of barroom swagger to the mix. It's the stuff that sounds good on the radio and on your iPod, but probably best on a boat. August 6, 8pm. $20.

KEYSPAN PARK at Coney Island
1904 Surf Ave, Brooklyn

Remember how it felt really awesome when Wilco played McCarren Park Pool (R.I.P.) last year? Yeah, well, this is going to be a whole lot better: First of all, there are seats, and seats are awesome, especially when they're located really close to beer vendors. And second, they're touring on a record that, for real, might be the best they've ever released. And, yes, we've heard Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. All the other ones, too. It's serious. July 13, 8pm. $45.

Built to Spill, Spank Rock, The Raveonettes, Frightened Rabbit, Grand Duchy, Monotonix, Future Of The Left, Japandroids, Micachu & The Shapes, Bear Hands, and more

Taking the train all the way down to the ghost of Coney Island to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in concrete-augmented heat with throngs of people you vaguely recognize from your neighborhood coffee shop is usually a drag. Not to mention cold-in-the-middle corndogs and a sound system that always leaves a lot to be desired. But then you see the Siren lineup and it always acts as some kind of crazy amnesia machine. Future of the Left is practically Mclusky! Micachu is definitely Micachu! July 18, from 12-9 pm.

For information, go to

July 31: Beastie Boys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, The National, Fleet Foxes, MSTRKRFT, Q-Tip, the Knux, Ra Ra Riot

August 1: Tool, My Bloody Valentine, Gogol Bordello, Arctic Monkeys, Neko Case, The Ting Tings, Tokyo Police Club, The Cool Kids, Cage The Elephant, Chairlift

August 2: Coldplay, Echo & The Bunnymen, MGMT, The Black Keys, Elbow, Silversun Pickups, Mogwai, We Are Scientists, Akron/Family, Lykke Li July 31-August 2.

All shows free, on Roosevelt Island

Leah Siegel
In NYC songwriting circles — that scene that seems to exist at places like Joe's Pub and the Living Room, where Norah Jones' career trajectory is everyone's goal — Leah Siegel has been an artist to watch for quite a few years now, with her soulful, elegant songs that sit somewhere between the sparse weirdness of indie-folk and the straightforward palatability of regular folk. June 13, 4pm.

The little landing strip of newly opened concert space on Roosevelt Island is ridiculously pretty. It'd be scenery valium even in the face of screeching death metal. The lush, carefully orchestrated indie-pop of Brooklyn's Frances will likely comfort you on a much deeper level, though. June 20, 4pm.

Bones Royal
It's summertime and the living's easy. You don't have to tell the Bones Royal twice, whose mesh of country-twinged rock and good ol' fashion jamming doesn't ever work its way into a frenzy. July 25, 4pm.

The Flanks w/ Hawke & Owl
For those of you who like your country music without the blinding gloss of mainstream Nashville, but also without the gimmicky, almost costume-like qualities of NYC's current underground country scene, we give you The Flanks, who've been at it for a long time now, doing country music the way it was supposed to be done: no ironic winking, no cheesy posturing — just simple heartbreaking. August 1, 4pm.

Wakey Wakey
Coming hot on the heels of their One Tree Hill soundtrack spot, this could be your very best chance ever to go home from a Wakey Wakey show with a teenager who shares your questionable tastes in undying television dramas with prominent trampoline basketball league sub-plots. August 8, 4pm.

Chica Libre
At its core, Chica Libre is a sun-splashed version of South American folk. With underpinnings in American surf music and flashes of 70s funk, their good-times vibe is relentless. August 22, 4pm.

90 Kent Ave, Williamsburg

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Dirty Projectors
We can't think of anyone better to open the new Williamsburg Waterfront space than the Dirty Projectors. The new album, Bitte Orca, is a gorgeous ride through R&B and art-school indie rock, driven by Dave Longstreth's quirky compositions that always seem open to new possibilities. We like to think it fits Brooklyn to a T. June 19.

Simian Mobile Disco DJs
Expect to hear only fleeting snatches of the English production team's impendingTemporary Pleasures when in the midst of the tangled bodies and dampened brows their mix will likely produce. Until its August release, they are taking the sophomore LPs title very seriously. August 9, FREE.

Captured Tracks & Woodsist Fest
Somewhere in Brooklyn, tiny Asian men will be stuffing their faces with hotdogs in celebration of America's independence. Elsewhere, the Crystal Stilts, Blank Dogs, Mayfair Set, Thee Oh Sees, Vivian Girls, Woods, Dum Dum Girls, Fresh & Onlys, Brilliant Colors, Real Estate, the Beets and Beach Fossils will be luring America's youth to dance. And that is why we love this country. July 4.


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