Now that you’ve recovered from the barbecues and booze after the long Memorial Day weekend, it’s time to get the unofficial start to summer off right—and that means checking out a slew of great concerts, including some free, not-to-be missed shows in Brooklyn. To say there’s some variety would be an understatement.
This year’s eclectic lineup for the long-running BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! program at Prospect Park may be the best yet in recent memory, featuring such established acts as Los Lobos, Aimee Mann and Branford Marsalis; big-name benefit concerts including The Decemberists, Courtney Barnett, Grizzly Bear and Spoon; and a blast of ‘90s alt-rock with the classic Breeders lineup. There’s nothing that says summer in Brooklyn more than watching a show in the evening in Prospect Park.
The Northside Festival, which has now become the unofficial successor to CMJ, returns for another installment highlighted by both popular and emerging indie rock acts: among them are Deerhoof, Half Waif, Katie Von Schleicher, Soccer Mommy, and Lou Barlow. Arguably, the main event of that festival is Liz Phair, who is marking the 25th anniversary of her classic album Exile in Guyville, and not surprisingly that show is sold out. And it’s just not about musicl the festival also features Innovation panels focusing on technology and entrepreneurship.
Not to be outdone by those aforementioned festivals, Afropunk Fest has a killer R&B/hip-hop schedule this year, headlined by Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Ibeyi, Fantastic Negrito, and Miguel. And then there’s BAM’s R&B Festival at MetroTech to provide some soul and jazz music during the lunch hour in downtown Brooklyn; among the participants are the great drummer Bernard Purdie along with Vivian Green and Marcus Miller. Other individual non-festival shows–ranging from synthpop legends to Depeche Mode to popular indie rock act Car Seat Headrest — round out the summer music season in Brooklyn.
There’s also music in the air outside of the borough. The Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall’s Island Park kicks off this Friday and runs through Sunday; that’s headlined by the likes of Jack White, Eminem, Travis Scott, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, CHVRCHES, James Blake, Halsey, and N.E.R.D. Randall’s Island is the setting for another major music festival, Panorama, from July 27 to July 29. If you haven’t gotten festival fatigue by that point, Panorama’s line-up is not to be ignored: David Byrne, Janet Jackson, St. Vincent, The xx, and Father John Misty and many others are scheduled to hit the stage.
Queens is also showing the summer music love at the historic Forest Hills Stadium, the site of some pretty impressive concerts in the last few years. Unless you live in Forest Hills, getting to the stadium is a bit of trek both by subway and on foot. But the list of scheduled performers might make the trip worth it: among them are The National, Robert Plant, David Byrne (that man again), Belle and Sebastian, the Who’s Roger Daltrey, Culture Club/B-52s, and Van Morrison/Willie Nelson.
The bottom line is that the die-hard music fan has plenty of options to see and hear some great music, so there’s really no excuses to miss any of them. Here’s a select guide of who’s playing around town for the next four months.
Governors Ball, Randall’s Island
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, Prospect Park Bandshell
The Decemberists with M. Ward*
Grizzly Bear + Spoon*
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead*
Gary Clark, Jr.
The Breeders/Speedy Ortiz
*Indicates Benefit Show
Panorama, Randall’s Island
Forest Hills Stadium, Forest Hills, Queens
Belle & Sebastian
Robert Plant with Sheryl Crow
Boy George and Culture Club and The B-52s
and Thompson Twins Tom Bailey
Black Summer Night, A Concert for Social Justice: Maxwell with Fantastia, DVSN, Jazmine Sullivan and Special Guests
Cake & Ben Folds
Van Morrison and Willie Nelson & Family
Brooklyn Steel, 319 Frost St.
First Aid Kit
Car Seat Headrest
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N 6th St.
August 25 and 26
The Bell House, 149 7th St.
The English Beat
Savion Glover featuring Marcus Gilmore
Amalgarhythm with Kris Davis and Terri Lyne Carrington
Jupiter & Okwess
Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective
Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk
Gladys Knight/The O’Jays
Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Ave.
Northside Festival, (various venues throughout Brooklyn)
Liz Phair/Soccer Mommy
(sold out; entry available to the festival’s music and premium badge-holders on a first-come, first-served basis)
(sold out; entry still available to music and premium badge-holders on a first-come, first-served basis)
Afropunk Fest, Commodore Barry Park, Fort Greene
Lineup includes: Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, Ibeyi, Miguel, Fantastic Negrito, Jaden Smith, Twin Shadow, Lolawolf and others
Union Pool, 484 Union Ave.
Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave.
August 30 and 31