Ok, yes, there is great free music in NYC all summer long, from Rockefeller Park to Governors Island, Central Park to Castle Clinton, the Williamsburg Waterfront to the South Street Seaport, Wingate Field to Pier 54, Coney Island to Prospect Park to Madison Square Park to the World Financial Center to the East River Ampitheater to … well, you get the idea.
That said, this weekend is particularly noteworthy for live free music in NYC, featuring a pair of not-to-be-missed indie shows/festivals. On Friday night, Caribou and Phantogram, two of the most exciting pop/electronica bands playing today, share the headlining honors at the Beach at Governors Island. This is sure to be packed and wild, so try to get an early ferry. You can find out more on The Bowery presents website.
Then on Saturday–all day and well into the night–it's the 10th annual, Village Voice-sponsored Siren Music Festival at Coney Island, which always attracts huge crowds eager for fun in the sun (and we do mean sun: don't forget the SPF30). Among the bands we're most looking forward to seeing at this year's Siren: Apache Beat, Holy F***. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, who always always always put on a great show. Find out more on the Siren Music Festival website.
Of course, your personal taste will dictate your free live music in NYC summertime calendar, but here's few shows we're particularly excited about in the coming weeks:
Sonic Youth is sure to electrify Prospect Park on Saturday, July 31 (they are always amazing live, and know how to rock a big, outdoor crowd), just one night after the Swell Season (as seen in the one of the great romantic movies of the last five years, Once) will undoubtedly send us swooning on Friday, July 30.
For '80s dance/pop nostalgia, it'd be tough to beat Belinda Carlilse (of the Go-Go's and "Mad About You" fame) opening for the always-a-blast-even-after-all-these-years B52s out in Coney Island, just across from the New York Aquarium. And for more free live music in NYC to spark our '80s rap/hip-hop memories, we will definitely be at the Public Enemy extravaganza on August 15 at Summerstage in Central Park, as Chuck D, Flava Flav and Terminator X perform on the 20th anniversary of their masterpiece, Fear of a Black Planet.
There are several excellent free music indie shows as well, including the great percussive party band White Rabbits on August 12 on the East River; The Antlers, whose achingly beautiful concept record Hospice–about, among other things, love and cancer–was one of our favorites of 2009, plays Pier 54 on July 22; and the xx brings their wistful electropop to Central Park on August 8, one week after St. Vincent and Basia Bulat, on August 1.