Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Free NYC Concerts this Weekend: Canada Day at SummerStage, 4 Knots, & More

June is going out with a loud musical bang this weekend, and for some people (including me) it'll be tough to choose between two favorite one-day festivals. That's because Saturday, June 29th features both the 4 Knots Music Festival at South Street Seaport and the return to SummerStage of the Canada Day concert.

4 knots festival poster
The 4 Knots festival is one of several great free summer shows this weekend.

This third year of the 4 Knots Music Festival features another strong lineup (on two stages again), headlined by Philadelphia's Kurt Vile and the Violators (see lineup below). The festival runs from 1 to 8 p.m. near Pier 17 at the Seaport.

SummerStage used to have a Canada Day concert the weekend before the actual holiday (which is July 1st), but there hasn't been one for a number of years. This year it's back with a vengeance, as a whole-day event as part of Canada Day International (which includes a Great Canadian Picnic taking place for several hours before the concert).

The 2013 Canada Day concert is headlined by electro-pop musician Lights, and also features rocker Joel Plaskett and folk rock band Spirit of the West. Showtime is 6 p.m.

young girl wearing headphones
Young fan rocking out at last year's 4 Knots Festival.

SummerStage will host what sounds like another great show on Sunday: a live performance of the classic Big Star album "Third," featuring an all-star lineup of musicians including Mike Mills (of R.E.M.), Jody Stephens, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, Marshall Crenshaw, Pete Yorn, Mitch Easter, and Reeve Carney. Oh, and a chamber orchestra. The show starts at 7 p.m.

Here's the 4 Knots lineup, as listed on the poster. Set times have not yet been provided, but I'll insert them as soon as they're announced. [UPDATE: 4 Knots set times were posted earlier this morning here; I've entered the info below.] You can also see the 4 Knots Twitter page for updates.

Pier 17 Stage
  • Steve Gunn, 1 p.m.
  • Hunters, 2 p.m.
  • White Lung, 3 p.m.
  • Parquet Courts, 4 p.m.
  • The Men, 5 p.m.
  • Reigning Sound, 6 p.m.
  • Kurt Vile & the Violators, 7 p.m.
Pier 16 Stage
  • Heliotropes, 1:30 p.m.
  • Fat Tony, 2:30 p.m.
  • The Babies, 3:30 p.m.
  • Marnie Stern, 4:30 p.m.
All of these shows are outdoors, of course, so let's hope for good weather. Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Yo La Tengo Plays its Final Show at Maxwell's

It was a poignant evening at Maxwell's Saturday, with local favorites Yo La Tengo making what is probably its final appearance at the club, which is closing at the end of July. Actually, fans in attendance got a double dose of the trio: YLT's cover-band alter ego Condo F*cks was to play the show with Scottish band The Pastels, but when the latter couldn't get into the U.S. because of visa problems, Yo La Tengo stepped in to fill the void.

Yo La Tengo playing their last show at Maxwell's
Yo La Tengo, as photographed from the back of a sold-out Maxwell's.

Opening for itself, in a way, YLT played a mellow, mostly acoustic set, setting a stage for the rocking electric sound of Condo F*cks. As you'd expect, many of the night's tunes touched on the end of the Maxwell's era. CF's first song was the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time," and their final song was The Kinks' "This is Where I Belong" (though both songs are in the band's repertoire of covers).

You can find the full Yo La Tengo/Condo F*cks set list here, giving the original artists for the covers. And did a good article on the night.

(There was one bizarre moment in the night when a young woman fell to the floor. One person said she slipped, but another said that she had passed out and was flat on the floor with no pulse. In any case, an ambulance came and took her away after the paramedics checked her out. We hope she's OK now.)

As Yo La Tengo has mentioned many times, it owes its very being to Maxwell's (as Ira Kaplan noted in a recent interview, he and wife-to-be Georgia Hubley worked at the club before they formed YLT).

Kaplan said it simply from the stage: "This band does not exist without this club."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

2013 SummerStage Highlights & Schedule (The Zombies Play Tonight)

The Zombies headline a free show at Central Park SummerStage tonight (above, playing a show in Essex County, NJ several years back).

Apologies for the short notice here, but legendary British invasion band The Zombies is playing SummerStage in Central Park tonight. The bill also features Django Django along with Adam Green and Binki Shapiro, and includes DJ sets by Modest P. The show starts at 6 p.m., and even if you're seeing this late on Saturday we hope you'll be able to get over there to see the headliners.

We caught The Zombies a few years back at a free festival show in North Jersey and they sounded just fine. You'll no doubt hear their classic hits such as "Tell Her No" and "She's Not There," as well as some deeper tracks from their canon.

See the SummerStage calendar for a full listing of events for this summer in parks throughout the five boroughs. Select "Music" on the left-hand side to see those events. you and also search by borough or by specific park.

June 15th - The Zombies, Django Django, Adam Green and Binki Shapiro, with DJ sets by Modest P. Central Park, 6 p.m.

June 18th - The Airborne Toxic Event featuring the Calder Quartet with Ensemble LPR. Central Park, 7 p.m.

June 29th - Canada Day celebration with Lights, Joel Plaskett, and Spirit of the West. Central Park, 6 p.m.

June 30th - Big Star's "Third": An Orchestrated Live Performance of the Legendary Album (with performers including Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, Pete Yorn, Marshall Crenshaw, and more). Central Park, 7 p.m.

July 11th- Lila Downs, Natalis Clavier, Pamela Rodriguez, & Raul Campos- Central Park, 6 p.m.

July 12th - War; DJ set by DJ Afro. Crotona Park, 7 p.m.

July 13th - Julieta Venegas, Carla Morrison, and Alexander Anwandter. In association with the Latin Alternative Music Conference. Central Park, 7 p.m.

July 22nd - Trombone Shorty, Orleans Avenue, and Soulive. With Anders Osborne. Central Park, 6 p.m.

July 27th - Lianne La Havas, LP, and Quadron; DJ sets by DJ Center. Central Park, 7 p.m.

July 30th - Motown Revue and Felix Hernandez's Rhythm Revue. Tappen Park, 7 p.m.

August 11th - Shuggie Otis, José James, and Hiatus Kaiyote; DJ sets by OP! (I Love Vinyl).

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

2013 Celebrate Brooklyn Free Concerts Start Tonight with Patty Griffin

2013 Celebrate Brooklyn logo
Celebrate Brooklyn kicks off June 5th; see music schedule highlights below.

The new season of Celebrate Brooklyn kicks off Wednesday night with acclaimed singer-songwriter Patty Griffin. Starting out with spare, acoustic girl-and-guitar folk arrangements on her first album, Griffin ranged into rousing rock on her second album, and since then has recorded in various styles of Americana, and even gospel.

Griffin is an amazing songwriter (her tunes have been covered by The Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris, among others), and this is a great chance to see her free.

All Celebrate Brooklyn shows are held at the Prospect Park bandshell (see here for directions, full summer lineup, and more information). The shows are free, but a $3 contribution is requested for eac show, to help defray expenses.

Here are highlights of the 2013 Celebrate Brooklyn music schedule:
  • June 5th - 35th Opening Night Gala and Concert Featuring Patty Griffin, 8:15 p.m.
  • June 14th - Mavis Staples / Cody ChesnuTT, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 15th - Calexico / Susana Baca / Radio Jarocho & Akoko Nante Ensemble, 7:00 p.m.
  • June 20th - Big Boi / Phony Ppl / D-Nice, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 28th - Ladysmith Black Mambazo / Aurelio Martinez, 7:30 p.m.
  • July 12th - Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich & Fussible / Mexican Institute of Sound / Mariachi Flor de Toloache, 7:00 p.m.
  • July 19th - The Waterboys / Alasdair Roberts, 7:30 p.m.
  • July 20th - The Lone Bellow / The Low Anthem / Joe Purdy, 7:00 p.m.
  • July 26th - Trampled by Turtles / The Devil Makes Three / Brown Bird, 7:00 p.m.
  • August 2nd - Jamie Lidell / Dan Deacon / The Stepkids, 7:30 p.m.
  • August 10th - They Might Be Giants / Moon Hooch, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Hoboken's Legendary Club Maxwell's to Close at End of July

Georgia Hubley & James McNew of Yo La Tengo at Maxwell's
Georgia Hubley and James McNew of Yo La Tengo at Maxwell's. The famed Hoboken club will close at the end of July.

Maxwell's, the little club that put Hoboken, NJ on the musical map and has kept it there for more than 30 years, will close at the end of next month. The news began to spread through Twitter this afternoon, with many comments referring to an article that appeared today on

Ironically, the reason is not an astronomical rent hike, as with so many other rock clubs in the NYC area. Instead, Maxwell's co-owner and booker Todd Abramson cites the city's changing demographics and the increasing difficulty in finding parking that customers, and bands, have found. Parking has always been tight, and it's gotten even more challenging in the last few years. A number of new high-rise apartment buildings have gone up in the uptown area of Hoboken where Maxwell's is located.

Maxwell's opened in 1978 and soon became known because of a number of up-and-coming bands that lived in or hung around Hoboken, including The Bongos, the dB's, and The Individuals.

This is obviously a huge loss for Hoboken and the NYC-area music scene. I started going to shows at Maxwell's in 1980, and can't even count how many shows I've seen there in the succeeding 30-plus years. In addition to the ones mentioned above, there was a rising Athens, Ga. band called R.E.M. (I saw them at Maxwell's in 1981, back when Michael Stipe still had hair).

They hosted many other bands that eventually became big stars; unfortunately, I missed them because I wasn't yet familiar with them. But folks who were more in the know than me were able to see Beck, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden.

I did manage to see Throwing Muses, which played there many times (though unfortunately I didn't see them at Maxwell's until after Tanya Donnelly had left the band). In the last year or so I've seen bands there including Dum Dum Girls, Screaming Females, Trophy Scars, The Lemonheads, and the Psychedelic Furs (who played Maxwell's during their heyday in the 1980s).

And to kind of bring things full circle, last year I saw The Baseball Project at Maxwell's—a band that includes two former members of R.E.M.

Who else did I see at Maxwell's? I can't remember them all, of course, but some of the bands that stick out include The Fall, The Fleshtones, Japandroids, Lee Bains III and the Holy Fire, The Muffs, and of course Yo La Tengo (I may add more names as they come to me).

I'd already bought tickets to a few more shows at Maxwell's before I heard of the closing, including Rachael Yamagata and Titus Andronicus (whose one show became a two- and now three-night stand). I'll probably get tickets to a couple of more (sooner rather than later, since there may be a higher demand for the Last Shows Ever at the club).

Among the other acts appearing at Maxwell's in its last month-and-a-half: ChickFactor 21st anniversary show with The Pastels and Condo F*cks (June 15th), Sinkane (June 16th), Sky Ferreira (June 17th), The Trophy Scars performing "Goodnight Alchemy" (June 22nd), Os Mutantes (June 28th), The Feelies (July 4th, 5th, and 6th), The Flamin' Groovies (July 7th), and ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (July 23rd).

Many clubs have come and gone over the last few decades, and it's always sad to see a much-loved venue close. For me, this one hurts more than all the others combined. The good news is that there are still more nights of rocking to come at the legendary club at the corner of 11th and Washington.

[UPDATE, June 7th: More dates have been added, most of which (such as Ted Leo) quickly sold out. As of this writing, tickets for The Muffs are still available, as are those for Lee Ranaldo and The Dust.

Abramson has said that he plans to have the club go out the way it started, with a reunion of the band called "a" on July 31st (though the show does not yet appear on the Maxwell's website). That band, whose members went on to The Bongos and The Individuals, were the first act to play Maxwell's back in 1978.]