Monday, June 02, 2014

Your Guide to the Best Free Summer Concerts in New York City

hudson square free concerts
Learn about some of the best free summer concert series in NYC (including Hudson Square, above).

Who says going out in New New York City has to cost a lot? There are countless free concerts in the summer, and here's a guide to some of the best series going. We'll add additional events here or in future posts.

And see the Oh My Rockness guide to free summer shows for even more no-cost gigs, including McCarren Park shows and the House of Vans concerts. And if you're an early riser, there are the free concerts put on by the "Today" show and "Good Morning America."

SummerStage - The grandaddy of NYC free summer concerts includes free performances in parks in all five boroughs, with spoken word, dance, and film as well as music. Most shows are free, but several paid, ticketed concerts help pay for the free ones. Highlights include Sisqó, John Butler Trio, Bonobo and Cibo Matta, and Dr. John.

Celebrate Brooklyn! - This long-running Prospect Park attraction has become more and more popular (and has snagged increasingly well-known entertainment). Like SummerStage, most shows are free, but a number of big-name benefit concerts help subsidize the freebees. Among this summer's lineup: Janelle Monae, St. Vincent, Dum Dum Girls, and Flea, Laurie Anderson, David Murray, and Patti Smith (that last one is one show, folks!)

Madison Square Music - Skip the big crowds and long lines with this low-key series. Simply walk into the park & sit yourself down on the lawn. Madison Square Music remains one of the undiscovered free-music gems of summer in the City, offering quality acts in a no-frills atmosphere. (Note: you will probably find a long line at the Shake Shack in the park.) Acts this summer include Nicole Atkins and Forro in the Dark and Debo Band. 

Hudson Square Music Festival - Here's a great idea: a series of right-after-work shows that gives you plenty of time for dinner or another concert later on. These downtown gigs start early (around 5:30pm), so you can see some live music and have plenty of time for other plans (or getting home). The venue is a parking lot outside of City Winery (the series' sponsor). Shows include Commander Cody, former X member John Doe, and Drivin' n' Cryin'.

It's free concerts galore in New York in the summer. Get out there and enjoy!

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