Free summer concerts: the best of what’s left

See Neon Indian at the Governor's Island Beach shows
See Neon Indian at the Governor's Island Beach shows

The days of the Northside Festival have long passed and Siren came and went with the Coney Island breeze, but there’s no need to have your endless summer of free Brooklyn concerts come to a halt. There’s more than enough music (indoors and out) to tide you over until CMJ Music Marathon madness arrives in late October. From Aretha Franklin to Neon Indian, here’s the best of what’s left.

Martin Luther King Jr. Concerts at Wingate Field
In conjunction with the Seaside Series (see below), MLK Jr. concerts offer a welcome alternative to the habitually rock-centric options in Williamsburg. In addition to a night with classic soul diva Aretha Franklin (Aug. 9), Wingate Field puts forward themed Caribbean (Sean Paul and the Mighty Sparrow, Aug. 23), Gospel (BeBe and CeCe Winans with Fred Hammond, Aug. 16), and Old School (Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty by Nature and Slick Rick, Aug. 2). Shows are every Monday through August. Seating is limited (and there’s a $5 seat-rental scam), so bring lawn chairs if you’d rather not dance.  Also, these all-ages shows are no-smoking.

Brooklyn Ave. btw Rutland Rd. and Winthrop St., East Flatbush.  2 or 5 to Winthrop St.

Seaside Series at Asser Levy/ Seaside Park
The performances at Asser Levy / Seaside Park are the largest free outdoor concert series in the New York Metropolitan area. From a second performance by Aretha Franklin (Aug. 12) to the B-52s (Aug. 19), the free Thursday night shows on the beach are all about the oldies meets pop/eclectic. The most contemporary it gets is John Legend, so it’s probably better to bring mom and dad rather than a hot date.

W. 5th and Surf Ave., Coney Island/ Brighton Beach.  D to Stillwell Ave., F or Q to 8th St./ NY Aquarium.

Jelly Presents: Saturdays at Rock Yard
Check out JellyNYC’s brand spanking new outdoor space by the water between S. 2nd and S. 4th in Williamsburg. Surrounded by essentially nothingness, the Rock Yard is an all-ages playground oasis, and offers the kind of Saturday afternoon where you can slip n’ slide with a beer in hand while listening to live music by Total Slacker (Aug. 14) or Motel Motel (Aug. 28).

Wythe Ave btw S. 2nd and S. 4th, Williamsburg.  L to Bedford Ave. or Lorimer St.  J to Marcy Ave.

The Beach at Governors Island
Not really seeming to belong to any borough, we’ll totally include the Beach shows on Governors Island. See Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band (Aug. 8), ride chill waves with Neon Indian (Aug. 14), and catch Dr. Dog (Aug. 15) the next day, all at 6pm. For the Beach shows, always be wary of the water taxis, check your transportation options, and get there EARLY.  Use logic, friends: when islands reach capacity, they’re truly at capacity.

Governors Island. From BK: take the Pier 6 Ferry. Get to Pier 6 via the A or C to Jay St., 4, 5, 2, or 3 to Borough Hall, or the B63 to Atlantic Ave. or Columbia St.

Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Bandshell
Norah Jones is long-gone (on stage, anyway) and Rufus Wainwright just had his turn, but there’s still plenty left at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Enjoy two unbelievable back-to-back Saturday night shows with Sonic Youth (with Grass Window and Talk Normal) on Jul. 31 and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (with the Budos Band) on Aug. 7. And be sure to fit in Metric between the two on Aug. 5. Keep in mind the Celebrate Brooklyn! crew has a pretty insistent $3 suggested donation.

Prospect Park West and 9th St., Park Slope.  F  or G to Seventh Ave.  Q or B to Seventh Ave.  2 or 3 to Grand Army Plaza.  B69 or B75 to Prospect Park West and 9th St.

Jelly Presents: Sunday Pool Parties at the Williamsburg Waterfront
Each year, JellyNYC seems to step it up, and this season’s bevy of free tunes is off-the-charts. Clear skies or not, the Waterfront (East River State Park) has one of the best views in Brooklyn… when you’re not looking at the stage for performances by Cut Copy (Aug. 8), the Strange Boys (Aug. 22), or Delorean (Aug. 29). After soaking in all the free music and UV rays, head few blocks north to cool off at Brooklyn Bowl for drink specials at the free after party, and don’t miss the mysterious JellyNYC Block Party there this coming Sunday, Aug. 1.

Kent Ave. at 8th St., Williamsburg.  L to Bedford Ave. or G to Nassau Ave.

A few indoor freebies
Now, for all you vampirey folks who’d prefer your free music INDOORS, here are a few worthwhile upcoming free shows in venues with walls and ceilings. Youngsters beware—most of these are 21 and over:

You can get started this Wednesday, Jul. 28, with Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkeybirds at the Knitting Factory. Brooklyn Bowl offers both Locksley (Jul. 28)) and Apache Beat (Jul. 31) this week too… and you can always stop in for Sailor Jerry drink specials Sunday nights at the Deep End (official after party of the Pool Parties). Next Tues., Aug. 3, Union Pool has a promising night planned, with Natural Child, X-Ray Eyeballs and Hunters. And Zebulon Café will host Air Waves a bit later this summer (Aug. 19). For those of you who want a little twist with your shout, Silent Barn frequently offers up free cross-genre entertainment experiments like Cosmic Yoga—a concert meets yoga event (last one was Jul. 19; eagerly anticipating August date announcement). Pete’s Candy Store and Bruar Falls also frequently host free shows.

Always double-check free events before you head to them—for things like a suggested donation or a simple RSVP requirement.

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