Written by Patrick McNamara
There are times and places to pay good $ to see good bands play in NYC this summer but we're not going to talk about any of those times or places in this article today. No way!
We will not be concerned with you, shows that cost $! Good day, $ shows. I said good day!
Below are 15 of our favorite bands you can see FOR FREE this summer. And you totally should. Why? They're good!
The following bands are listed in no order. All 15 are equally good. The last shall be first and the first shall be last and all that. But here's the most important part. You and I aren't going to pay anybody any $ to see any of them! SICK!
(after you get done loving this really great article feel free to check out our complete list of free summer shows in NYC as it's pretty nice in its own right but it might be a little overwhelming because there are so many bands/shows listed like wayyyyyy more than 15 so just warning you not to freak out when you see how many good shows you can see for free this summer keep it chill)
Presenting: 15 Good Bands To See For Free in NYC This Summer
#1 Wolf Parade
Wolf Parade are back! The biggest indie band of 2006 A.D. (probably - you wanna say it was The Decemberists or Sufjan or Spoon or something, fine - let's not fight about it) just played five sold-out shows here after taking the last few years off to start new bands and chill. If you missed their triumphant NYC return it's totally no big deal! They're playing a FREE show at McCarren Park on June 9th for Northside Fest.
Also. I saw Wolf Parade play Pianos once. Please hold your applause for me until the end of this article.
(P.S.: this is their best song of course and in 2016 A.D. you bet your ___ they'll play it last)
#2 Guided by Voices
Since forming in Dayton, OH circa 1881 A.D., Guided by Voices have released like 5,000 albums and have played a bajillion shows throughout the terms of U.S. Presidents Chester A. Arthur ("the A stands for asshole!" - an opponent of Chester A. Arthur at some point probably) and Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland and William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Barack Obama and they'll still be at it when _______ _______ is inaugurated next January.
See this legendary band (you bet this blob just went there) for FREE (<---- you will keep seeing this third best 'f' word throughout the remainder of this article) at South Street Seaport on July 9th and don't let that world class view distract you from respecting one of the best indie rock bands of the last 135 years.
You probably already know and like DIIV, right? Why wouldn't you? They're totally good. File Under: A Good Band. RIYL: Good Bands. But did you know that this summer you can see this good band you probably already like for FREE on June 9th at House of Vans? So help me blob it's true!
#4 Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is the best post ____ psych pop band that's based in both New Zealand and the U.S. that "I" can think of unless "you" got another name you wanna pull from your hat and toss in the ring? You can see these world champions for FREE on July 30th in Central Park (you know the place - it's that little DIY co-op art space just across the way).
"UMO psyching up Central Park for FREE ohhhhh man we are SO gonna go to Mars at this one!"
"Totally but first we're gonna stop on the mooooon man yeahhhhhhh!"
#5 Blonde Redhead
When I think of "good indie rock" I think of bands like Blonde Redhead. They've been at it a long time (not as long as Guided by Voices or anything... little known fact: Robert Pollard went to grammar school with Henry Ford.... but still pretty long!) and we're all richer music listeners because of it. See them in a park in Red Hook on June 16th (almost forgot..... for FREE) and be glad for a little bit that you live here and you can do things like that.
Battles is one of the best live bands playing the game today.
Watch them for the changes.
And try and keep up, OK?
See them at House of Vans on June 23rd.
#7 Sunflower Bean
Since being named our #1 hardest working band of 2014 A.D. Sunflower Bean and their heavy post ___ pop rock has gone on to take over the world. I'm not suggesting there's any correlation between that really good article and their world domination but I can't really stop you if you're going to insist on taking that interpretation can I? HA HA! I'm totally just kidding! This band reigns over the world because they write really great songs and they RULE!
See them for FREE (if you RSVP'd - if you didn't - I don't know what to tell you, man - I hope the list is still open by the time you read this but if it isn't try to remain in the light I guess - the dark nights will soon shift to the golden hour of dawn and you'll once again be able to move forward) at House of Vans on June 9th.
Also. Here's a good Music Industry joke for you!
"I broke that band."
- somebody who didn't break that band
I vvant you to know that have been listening to Alvvays on the regular for like tvvo years now and I'm not really planning on taking an extended musical break from this band anytime soon. As good as this band is on record (note: they are really good on record) Alvvays just might be even better live. They just might! I've seen them live a fevv times (most recently vvhen I took my family to FYF Fest last summer - they vvere one of the fevv bands vve actually savv - vve left approximately 8 hours before headliner Kanye VVest came on) and they've alvvays been amazing.
See this vvonderful band play for FREE on June 23rd at the band shell in Prospect Park vvhich is simply one of the finest places to see a shovv in the city - it's a jevvel box as far as I'm concerned - and the fact that I can vvalk to it from my rented apartment vvhich is also near many "to die for" restaurants I don't have any $ to go to helps too!
Below is probably my favorite Alvvays song. I love it.
#9 Violent Femmes
How many times has Violent Femmes played "Blister in the Sun" since the song's release in 1983.*
Is it still fun, Violent Femmes?
Can U still feel the butterflies...
Before U play Blister in the Sun?"
Maybe we'll find out in Prospect Park on June 18th. I'm guessing they'll probably play it.
Blister in the Sun, that is.
Do you know it?
* films of 1983 include, Return of the Jedi, Vacation, Trading Places, Scarface, Flashdance, Superman III, WarGames, Risky Business, A Christmas Story and The Big Chillllllllllllllllllllll (big thanks to Google for doing the heavy lifting to make this footnote possible)
#10 Neon Indian
If they ever make The Big Chillllllllllll Part 2, I nominated Neon Indian to do the soundtrack because this dude is the chillest (and the illest).
If you like seeing good dudes and wanna dance outside for FREE then you should really make a plan to be near (not in, unless things get super sloppy) the East River on August 9th. You know what? Even if you don't like to dance you should STILL come to this show and have a nice time. You don't have to move anything you don't want to move. You can just sit and chill all night long if you wanna. Neon Indian vibes with that too.
Quicksand was/is one of the heaviest (and best) post ____hardcore bands born in the 1990s. Just watch that live video down below (featuring a 15-year-old Jon Stewart) if you don't believe me. So heavy! This band should've been one of the biggest in the world. Guess they were too good or something.... instead we got "Nirvana."
If you love Quicksand like I love Quicksand we should totally hang out on July 6th at House of Vans and see them for FREE.
Please note: you need to RSVP to this show to go and I hope you still can by the time you're reading this but should you find that the RSVP list is closed I'm very sorry but I didn't do it I just blob here.
#12 The Feelies
When Guided by Voices were thinking about forming somewhere circa 1881 A.D. I'd like to imagine they sent a registered letter via Pony Express to New Jersey to solicit the opinion of The Feelies since by that time the band was already well-established elder statesmen on the scene and could possibly offer some helpful insight.
"On one hand, Bob, starting a band is a good way to see some of this great country. On the other hand, it'll take three days to travel 20 miles."
But moving on!
Please enjoy this scene from "Something Wild" (the 1986 cult comedy film directed by Jonathan Demme who also directed "The Silence of The Lambs" and "Philadelphia" and his latest "Ricki and the Flash" where Meryl Streep plays a total punk rocker or something I'm not sure I missed that one) featuring a young Jeff Daniels dancing to the sweet sounds of high school reunion band The Feelies.
Those rhythms.....they're crazy! See them in Central Park on July 18th.
#13 Patti Smith
I know I'm like 6 years late on this but I just read Patti Smith's memoir "Just Kids" and it was amazing. Actually, I'm gonna go ahead and say it's the best rock memoir I've ever read and I've read a whole lot of them (even one written by the drummer of that band that sang that one song that goes like this "Closing time! One last call for alcohol! And blah blah la dah dah blah!" it was pretty good, I guess, considering the material the dude had to work with). Please read it at your earliest convenience if you haven't already. Those who have may now stop nodding vigorously in agreement.
But what I most want to tell you is that Patti Smith is playing a FREE show (w/ Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan) at Damrosch Bandshell in Lincoln Center on July 20th and not only is she one helluva writer but she's also a rock 'n roll legend but you knew that already.
Chairlift has been slinging the super solid synthpop since somewhere circa 2005 A.D.
See them (you can dance if you want to) for FREE on June 14th in Red Hook Park.
Sure, it might take you a couple trains and a few buses to get over there (or one car service if you have lots of expendable $ and if you do are you sure this is the right digital feature 4 U?) but it'll be totally worth the zero dollars you will have to pay to get into this one.
So help me blob.
#15 Digable Planets
"We like the breeze flow straight out of our lids
Them they got moved by these hard-rock Brooklyn kids
Us floor rush when the DJ's booming classics
You, dig the crew on the fattest hip-hop records
He touch the kinks and sinks into the sounds
She frequents the fattest joints caught underground
Our funk zooms like you hit the Mary Jane
They flock to booms man boogie had to change
Who freaks the clips with mad amount percussion
Where kinky hair goes to unthought-of dimensions
Why's it so fly cause hip-hop kept some drama
When Butterfly rocked his light blue-suede Pumas
What by the cut we push it off the corner
How was the buzz entire hip hop era
Was fresh and fat since they started saying audi
Cause funks made fat from right beneath my hoodie
The poobah of the styles like Miles and shit
Like sixties funky worms with waves and perms
Just sendin' chunky rhythms right down ya block
We be to rap what key be to lock
I'm cool like dat
I'm cool, I'm cool
We be the chocolates taps on my raps
She innovates at the sweetest cat naps
He at the funk club with the vibrate
Them they be crazy down with the five plate
It can kick a plan then a crowd burst
Me I be digging it with a bump verse
Us we be freaking til dawn blinks an eye
He gives the strangest smile so I say hi (wassup)
Who understood, yeah understood the plan
Him heard a beat and put it to his hands
What I just flip let borders get loose
How to consume or they'll be just like juice
If its the shit we'll lift it off the plastic
The babes'll go spastic
Hip hop gains a classic
Pimp playing shock it don't matter I'm fatter
Ask Butta how I zone (man Cleopatra Jones)
I'm chill like dat
I'm chill, I'm chill
We getcha free cause the clips be fat boss
Them they're the jams and commence to going off
She sweats the beat and ask me cause she puffed it
Me I got crew kids seven and a crescent
Us cause a buzz when the nickel bags are dealt
Him, that's my man with the asteroid belt
They catch a fizz from the Mr. Doodle-big
He rocks a tee from the Crooklyn nine-pigs
The rebirth of slick like my gangsta stroll
The lyrics just like loot come in stacks and rolls
You used to find a Bug in a box with fade
Now he boogies up your stage plaits twist or braids
I'm peace like dat
Check it out man I groove like dat
I'm smooth like dat
I jive like dat
I roll like dat
Yeah I'm thick like dat
I stack like dat
I'm down like dat
I'm black like dat
Well yo I funk like dat
I'm phat like dat
I'm in like dat
Cause I swing like dat
We jazz like dat
We freak like dat
We zoom like dat
We out, we out"
Have fun not spending any $ to see these good bands this summer!
Don't forget to check out our full list of free summer shows in NYC!
Be excellent to each other!
Party on, dudes!
See you out there!
YOU. SHALL. NOT. PAYYYYYYYYYY.