curated by Sara Maher
It’s concert season! Nothing says summer like the opportunity to squeeze into an arena and brush sweaty shoulders with a bunch of drunks… or you can attend one of these amphitheater escapades instead. Organized by increasing distance from Roosevelt Island. All events ongoing through at least Labor Day.
Central Park SummerStage Festival
Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield is the home of its annual SummerStage Festival, a celebration of all arts. The variety of acts is incredible, featuring everything from popular performers (Barenaked Ladies, Indigo Girls, Phillip Phillips with Matt Nathanson) to traditional tunes (Yiddish Soul: A Concert of Cantorial and Chassidic Superstars, the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital), from comedy acts (Comedy Central Presents) to throwbacks (Go-Go’s Farewell Tour, Freedom Party® NYC 13 Year Anniversary, Chicago The Musical: 20th Anniversary Concert).
Tickets to most of the concerts are free, but are generally standing room only, so bring a picnic and sit on the rocks around the amphitheater instead.
If you’re feeling really fancy, the City Parks Foundation Gala Concert & Dinner will have performances by Jon Bon Jovi, Idina Menzel, Paul Shaffer and the Park Rangers, and surprise guests.
F downtown to 63rd St-Lexington Av and walk northwest to enter Central Park at 69th St; walk west to Rumsey Playfield. Gala: Mon Jun 20, cocktails 6:30pm, dinner and performances 7:30pm; tickets start at $1,500. Concerts: dates and times vary; tickets free-$199 (tickets not required for free events, but space is limited.) Full list of events and tickets: centralpark.com/guide/activities/concerts/summerstage-festival.html
Carnegie Hall Anniversary
OK, this one’s not in an amphitheater, but it’s freaking Carnegie Hall, so we’ll let it slide. Last year, the Hall celebrated its 125th anniversary by announcing the “125 Commissions Project,” a promise to commission 125 works by both established and emerging composers over the next five seasons and premiere them all at the Hall.
Featured performers for the project include John Adams, Magnus Lindberg, Aaron Jay Kernis, Glenn Kotche, Brad Mehldau, and Olga Neuwirth, but they are also seeking new artists looking for their big break. The rest of the 2015-2016 season is filled with concerts and educational and community programs.
F downtown to 57th St and walk west to Carnegie Hall (57th St and 7th Av.) Ongoing. Ticket prices vary, but some discounts are available for certain programs. carnegiehall.org/125commissions
Madison Square Music Oval Lawn Series
Madison Square Park allegedly hosts a concert with “an eclectic mix of genres” every Wednesday evening during the summer months. They still haven’t posted the list of performers, so keep checking the website for more information.
F downtown to 23rd St and walk east to Madison Square Park; Oval Lawn is located in the park between 24th and 25th Sts. Dates and times TBA at madisonsquarepark.org/music/oval-lawn-series
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is one of the City’s longest-running free festivals, presenting “ensembles reflective of the borough’s diversity.” They go for variety over household names, and this year’s calendar includes feminist alt-rock, indie pop, psych pop, reggae, a Latin trumpeter, and a variety of dance performances.
There will also be multimedia performances of the movie Labyrinth and “The Hubble Cantata,” a trip through the cosmos guided by a composer.
F downtown to 7th Av and walk southeast; enter Prospect Park at 9th St and walk southeast to the Prospect Park Bandshell. Dates and times vary. Most concerts free; benefit concerts $49.50-55. Full list of events and tickets: bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/bric-celebrate-brooklyn
Coney Island Boardwalk
To the surprise of no one, Coney Island’s Amphitheater offers the most eclectic mix of performances for your enjoyment.
You can get your groove on with Ziggy Marley, Fifth Harmony, the Avett Brothers, Willie Nelson and Family, or Erykah Badu; spend the Fourth of July weekend kickin’ it back with Sting & Peter Gabriel, Rick Springfield, or (most of) The Beach Boys; feast your ears and eyes on Johnny Depp performing with Hollywood Vampires, his band with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry; dig out your black eyeliner for Jane’s Addiction, O.A.R., or Shinedown; spend an energetic evening with the Kidz Bop Kids; rejoice in the reunions of 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block, and O-Town; or be there for the 40th anniversary tour of Boston. It’s really whatever you’re feeling.
F downtown to Coney Island-Stillwell Av and walk southwest to Coney Island Ampitheater (2113 W 21st St.) Dates and times vary. Tickets $25-255. Full list of events and tickets: coneyislandlive.com