Rock the House: Your summer concert guide 2017


One of the best things about New York in the summer is the sheer number of free concerts that take place around the city. Naturally, the summer music season is dominated by familiar long-running series, like Celebrate Brooklyn, Summerstage and Afropunk, as well as relative newcomers like Governors Ball, Northside Festival and Panorama. Not all of them are free, but there’s plenty on offer even if you’ve got a tight budget. Here’s a listing of some notable shows that will liven up your summer.

Mavis Staples performing in 2015. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Film First/Courtesy of HBO)

Mavis Staples
Central Park Summerstage
June 3
A true giant in the world of gospel and soul music, Mavis Staples has graced us with several decades’ worth of memorable songs from her time with the Staple Singers and as a solo artist. And at age 77, she’s still sounds earthy and vibrant as ever. The legend is holding a free show at Central Park, and her congregation of fans will without a doubt flock to hear her sermon of hope and joy.

Jay Som | Photo: Cara Robbins)

Jay Som
McCarren Park (Northside Festival)
June 8
The headliner for this particular show is Dirty Projectors, but opening act Jay Som, the moniker of instrumentalist Melina Duterte, is a good reason to be at this gig early. Her atmospheric and dreamy indie pop has justifiably been making waves since the release of her proper debut album, Everybody Works, last March.

Helium with Mary Timony in the 1990s. Photo: Matador Records

Mary Timony
Rough Trade NYC (Northside Festival)
June 8
Mercury Lounge (two shows)
June 9

Long regarded as an indie rock guitar legend, Timony (currently of Ex Hex) is revisiting the music of her former ’90s alt-rock band Helium. The group’s only two albums, The Dirt of Luck and The Magic City, were just reissued on vinyl, accompanied by a new compilation Ends with And. As testimony of her popularity, Timony’s two Mercury Lounge shows are sold out.

Brooklyn Bazaar (Northside Festival)
June 9
Jlin is the moniker of producer Jeralynn Patton, who recently unveiled her latest record Black Origami. It’s hard to specifically categorize her electronic music–it recalls some elements of drum-and-bass from the ’90s, as it’s a complex and yet cohesive work of colliding beats and rhythms. Jlin’s music is dazzling and not surprisingly has garnered recent press attention.

Girlpool | Photo: Kacie Tomita

Warsaw (Northside Festival)
June 9

The Los Angeles duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have just released their excellent sophomore album Powerplant. And not surprisingly, that record has generated positive reviews like that of their 2015 debut Before The World Was Big. Their whispery blended voices are the highlight of their driving indie folk-punk music.

Early Riser | Photo: Girlie Action

Early Riser
Muchmore’s (Northside Festival)
June 9
The songs of the Brooklyn duo of Heidi Vanderlee and Kiri Oliver hearkens back to the smart and intelligent folk pop of the ’90s—the type of music one would hear on WFUV. Their new album, Currents, is due out on June 16 but audiences will get a preview of their earnest, eloquent and danceable songs at this Northside Festival gig. They’re also performing at The Gateway on June 30.

Lydia Lunch
The Hall at MP (Northside Festival)
June 9
One of the leading figures of the downtown No Wave movement from the late ’70s, legendary singer and poet Lunch, who made her name with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, will make headline this Northside Festival event.

Julianna Barwick
National Sawdust (Northside Festival)
June 9

Julia Holter
National Sawdust (Northside Festival)
June 10

Two acclaimed indie artists who thrive on experimentation are part of this year’s Northside Festival playing back-to-back days at National Sawdust. Unfortunately they’re not on the same bill, but they should be. Always a critic’s favorite, Barwick creates her music through electronic looping; her last album, Will, came out in 2016. Meanwhile, Holter has recently put out her latest work In the Same Room, a live recording of her band’s performance from last year.

Craig Leon/Martin Rev
The Hall at MP (Northside Festival)
June 9
Two avante-garde veterans from the punk era are featured together on this particular Northside Festival event. Musician and composter Craig Leon is best known as the producer of the Ramones’ iconic 1976 debut album as well as a collaborator with Blondie, Jesus Jones, Shonen Knife, and The Fall. Rev was one-half of the influential proto-punk duo Suicide with the late Alan Vega.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Photo: Sam Barker

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Beacon Theater
June 13 and 14
Anyone who has seen Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds know what compelling performers they are, as evident from their memorable Celebrate Brooklyn show in 2014. The Bad Seeds are on tour to support for their latest album Skeleton Tree; it also marks Cave’s full-on return to performing since the tragic death of his young son, adding a sense of poignancy for this appearance.

Tennis | Photo: Luca Venter

Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn)
June 15
Opening for the Shins, Tennis–the wife and husband duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley– perform their brand of sophisticated and lush indie pop music in support of their most recent album Yours Conditionally, inspired by their months-long sailing trip through the Sea of Cortez.

Mozart’s Sister | Photo: Rebecca Storm

Mozart’s Sister
Rough Trade NYC
June 22
We interviewed Mozart’s Sister mastermind Caila Thompson-Hannant back in February around the release of her latest album Fields of Love, an infectious electronic-dominated indie pop-R&B record. Now Mozart’s Sister is back in New York, this time headlining her own gig at Rough Trade NYC.

Aimee Mann |oto:  PhSheryl Nields

Aimee Mann
Music Hall of Williamsburg
June 26
The beloved singer-songwriter recently released Mental Illness, which has garnered the best reviews of her long career, and far from her time as the spiky-haired singer of ’80s pop band ‘Til Tuesday. Expect her to play songs from the new album as well as old favorites from her two-decades plus solo career such as “Save Me,” “Wise Up” and “Long Shot”

Robert Randolph | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Randolph and the Family Band
Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn)
July 13
Hailing from Orange, New Jersey, the famous pedal steel guitarist and his band deliver some of the most infectious R&B and funk you’ll ever hear—a perfect soundtrack for a hot July night. (On an aside, Randolph is also a huge Knicks fan, and probably long-suffering like the rest of us.) Coincidentally, this appearance coincides with his latest record, appropriately titled Got Soul.

Kendrick Lamar | Photo: Jon Elbaz, via Wikimedia Commons

Kendrick Lamar
Barclays Center
July 20 and 23
Coming off of 2015’s critically-acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar has recently followed that up with DAMN.– another provocative and standout release by one of the most compelling performers in hip-hop today. The superstar is making a stop at Barclays for two nights as part of the DAMN. tour.

Queen + Adam Lambert | Wikimedia Commons

Queen + Adam Lambert
Barclays Center
July 28
This incarnation of the legendary rock band—with pop idol Adam Lambert fronting for the late great Freddie Mercury—returns to the States for the first time in three years. Expect this to be a night that’s heavy on the anthemic hits, including “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and of course “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Blondie | Photo: Alexander Thompson

Beacon Theatre
August 1
It’s the dream bill of all dream bills—two great bands of their respective eras fronted by two heavenly charismatic female singers (Blondie’s Deborah Harry, Garbage’s Shirley Manson) who don’t take bullshit. It’s gonna be a night of edgy rock and pop hits.

Angelique Kidjo’s Remain in Light
Damrosch Park (Lincoln Center)
August 2
Talking Heads released their signature albums, Remain in Light, in 1980, which incorporated world music influences. Nearly 40 years later, acclaimed singer Angelique Kidjo’s offers her take on that classic record with her band Sound Machine.

Nick Lowe’s Quality Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue Starring Los Straitjackets
Damrosch Park (Lincoln Center)
August 5
The always brilliant and witty Jesus of Cool returns, this time with masked surf rockers Los Straitjackets.

Youssou N’Dour | Photo: Henryk Kotowski, via Wikimedia Commons

Youssou N’Dour
Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn)
August 12
Senegalese singer N’Dour became a household name to Western listeners in 1986 with his memorable guest appearance on Peter Gabriel’s classic “In Your Eyes.” Long renowned as a superstar in world music, he is a fitting choice to close out this year’s Celebrate Brooklyn.

Midnight Oil
Terminal 5
August 5
Of the many band reunions that have happened recently, the return of Australia’s Midnight Oil is certainly one of most welcomed. With founding lead singer Peter Garrett back into the fold after a stint as a member of the Australian government, the group best known for such fiery songs as “Beds Are Burning” and “Blue Sky Mining,” is back with its politically and socially-conscientious rock. Given the uncertainty of the world we live in, Midnight Oil’s music is needed now more than ever

King | Photo: Alex King

Commodore Barry Park (Afropunk Fest)
August 26
The female trio of Paris Strother, Amber Strother, and Anita Bias released their debut album, We Are King, last year to much critical acclaim; their music is a throwback to old school ’80s R&B while sounding contemporary and avant garde at times. Part of a lineup that includes Thundercat, Sinkane, and Gary Clark, Jr., King is in this latest edition of the beloved Afropunk Fest.

The Cranberries
Terminal 5
September 15 and 16
The return of the Cranberries to the States to promote their new tour (the Irish band has a new record called Something Else) is the latest in what seems to be a wave of nostalgia for ’90s music. Hearing tracks such as “Linger,” “Dreams” and “Zombie” are sure to transport Generation X fans back to their college youth from the early ’90s.

Allison Moyet | Photo: Steve Gullick

Alison Moyet
Irving Plaza
September 15
One of the most successful British female pop singers going back to her days as a member of ’80s synthpop duo Yaz, Moyet returns to the States for the first time in four years for her latest album Other. That record continues the dynamic sound of its predecessor The Minutes, which captured the singer on a personal and creative roll. Moyet doesn’t often tour America and only plays certain cities here, so this gig at Irving Plaza should draw an impressive turnout for ’80s pop fans.

Paul McCartney | Photo: MPL Communications/MJ Kim

Paul McCartney
Madison Square Garden
September 15 and 17
Barclays Center
September 19 and 21
Turning 75 (!) this June, the music icon will be performing the all he favorite hits from his Beatles and solo catalog as part of the One on One tour.

Check out these festivals and series for their full line-ups:

Northside Festival
Celebrate Brooklyn
The Bowery Presents
Governors Ball
Afropunk Fest
The Meadows Music and Arts Festival
BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech
Lincoln Center Out of Doors

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