The 15 Best Free Shows in NYC This Summer - Oh My Rockness

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The 15 Best Free Shows in NYC This Summer

The finest show season is also the freest.

June 26, 2017
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Written by Patrick McNamara

Our guide to free summer shows in NYC is the best guide to free summer shows in NYC probably!*

*note: we haven't researched this claim - too busy blobbing

We have over 100+ free summer shows listed now.

Of those 100+ good free summer shows….

Here are 15 particularly good ones.

1. Bully plays a free show at The Surf Lodge on Sunday, July 2nd.

Second on this list of 15 good free NYC shows this summer is a free show that's not in NYC this summer.

But Montauk isn't THAT far* and Bully is so good!

Actually, there are a bunch of good free shows at The Surf Lodge this summer. Check out the full schedule whenever (but preferably before fall).

*note: NYC -> Montauk = 2 h 34 min in current traffic

2. DJ Premier plays a free show at Betsy Head Memorial Playground on Sunday, July 2nd.

DJ Premier is directly responsible for some of the best beats of the last 25 years. Fact.

Clean. Sharp. Hard.

Throw in some smooth flow, perfectly placed scratches, and tight loops over these ill booms (as Premiere is wont to do) and the dopeness level goes Defcon.

The studio king of underground hip-hop is front at center at Betsy Head Memorial Playground.

In the meantime, this mixtape is what I'll be blasting the next two hours. So good!

3. Sinkane plays a free show at MetroTech Commons on Thursday, July 6th.

NYC via Ohio via Sudan via London artist Sinkane plays jazzy life-affirming rock. This dude's super smooth and his music will put you in a better mood.

You should go see him at every opportunity for the chance at happiness (but especially this one in downtown Brooklyn because it's free).

Go have yourself a good time at this good show. You deserve it, goddamn it.

4. Royal Headache play House of Vans on Wednesday, July 12th. With Sheer Mag and Downtown Boys.

Lo-fi jingle jangle Aussie punk!

(fronted by Tom Jones*)

This free show is gonna JUMP.

I ❤️ this band.

*note: Tom Jones isn't actually in this band, which is totally his loss

5. Japanese Breakfast play a free show at Union Pool on Saturday, July 15th.

Japanese Breakfast (Philadelphia's Michelle Zauner & friends) has been making blissful bedroom-ish pop for a bit, but now they're in prime position to take it up a notch and spread their musical goodness to even more of the discerning masses.

The band is currently on a big time tour with (Sandy) Alex G and have a brand new album coming out July 14th, 2017 A.D. that has tons of sweet swirls and super sticky hooks. You'd have to be all-out bonkers not to love it.

See Japanese Breakfast for free (record release party) before they blow up!

(Yohuna also playing this show)

Part of Union Pool's “Summer Thunder" concert series, which *just* added a new show free show featuring Julie Byrne.

6. Yo La Tengo play a free show at Central Park Summerstage on Monday, July 17th. With Ultimate Painting.

This is the #1 most popular upcoming show on Oh My Rockness.

This is the #1 most popular upcoming show on Oh My Rockness.

This is the #1 most popular upcoming show on Oh My Rockness.

The only thing better than free shows is Yo La Tengo.

*hit movies the year YLT formed: Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Terminator, Karate Kid, Gremlins, Nightmare on Elm Street, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

7. OK Go play a free show at Brookfield Place Plaza on Wednesday, July 19th.

Idea for OK Go: have some fun with your music videos!

Can't wait to go to this show and see if the band dislodges some special ball during their encore that travels in a complicated maze contraption built above the crowd and it triggers some secret mechanism that ultimately makes it rain free candy on everybody or something super sweet like that.

*if you're wondering where Brookfield Place Plaza is, it's on Vesey Street, which is one of those streets down there somewhere, hope this helps!

8. Nas headlines a free show at Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday, July 19th.

Feel free to go see one of the greatest rappers of all time…...for free.*

This one needs no sellin.

Please love blasting this Nas classic produced by DJ Premier (see free summer show #3 / it all comes full circle)

*you gotta RSVP before you show up so don't sleep on that cause sleep is the cousin of death

9. Andrew Bird plays a free show in Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn!) on Friday, July 28th.

The greatest basketball player to ever come out of French Lick, Indiana!

Just kidding. That would be Andrew's brother, Larry.*

The greatest violinist rock star of modern times plays a super chill show in Prospect Park, one of the very best places in all of New York City to sit outside and listen to someone good.

Go see Birdman shoot the lights out and hit nothing but net at this big time show. Just like his big bro!

*note: Larry Bird + Andrew Bird = not brothers

*note #2: explaining always makes it funnier

10. Descendents play a free show at House of Vans on Thursday, August 3rd.

Forever pop punk band Descendents (born on date: 1977 A.D.) bringing the free hardcore heat to House of Vans during the first week of August.

This show will be a hot and sweaty mess.

The dog days of the Descendents!

*Fun Fact: lead singer Milo Aukerman is a biochemist in his spare time. That's great. I wrote a hit play and directed it so I'm not sweating it either.

11. Nick Lowe plays a free show at Lincoln Center on Saturday, August 5th.

Feel like seeing a power pop legend do his “Quality Rock 'n Roll Revue" for free at a nice outdoor bandshell nestled in the middle of one of the finest cities on earth?

Think about it. Obvious decisions don't come easy.

12. Whitney play a free show at Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn!) on Friday, August 11th. With Weyes Blood and Moses Sumney.

Chicago pizza is better than NY pizza.

Deep dish. Thin crust.

Doesn't matter.

It's better.

Don't @ me, bro.

Please now enjoy this song from Chicago band Whitney.

13. Tyvek play a free show at Union Pool on Saturday, August 26th.

Lo fi garage never says die!

Tyvek rules (since _____ A.D.).

Come see how Detroit do.

Part of the free "Summer Thunder" concert series.

14. The Big Lebowski free screening at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, August 30th.

This isn't even a free show.

It's a free movie.

And if you don't know why The Big Lebowski made this list then obviously you're not a golfer.

15. It's up to you at It's Up To You on it's up to you

Pick your favorite from our free summer shows list.

Whatever you pick can be #15 on this list.

You have 140+ options.

The Oh My Rockness Guide to Free Summer Shows in NYC

See you out there.

And always remember:

YOU. SHALL. NOT. PAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

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