We may not have enough affordable apartments, space, or cheap and easy ways to get around, but New York City is never lacking in one thing: Free Concerts. This summer is no exception - save a buck and celebrate some of the best female musicians with these 7 great shows.
1. Janelle Monáe
June 4, 8 p.m. - Prospect Park Bandshell
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Monáe these days. A six time Grammy nominee, her soulful pop sound reaches across the spectrum of music, from lending her voice to fun.’s indie-pop anthem “We Are Young” to blasting on the synth-funk track “Q.U.E.E.N” with Erykah Badu. This summer she’s bringing her sassy, futuristic talents to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell as a part of Celebrate Brooklyn!’s free concert series. Doors open at 6:30 so be sure to get there early - this event is first come, first serve.
June 15, 4 p.m. - McCarren Park, Northside Festival
Hailing from Scotland, Chvrches is your guiltiest pleasure. Packing the punch of a Whitney Houston-era synth with plucky vocals from singer Lauren Mayberry, the music is MADE for dancing by yourself in your bedroom and lip-syncing in the mirror. Fortunately, you have a chance to flex these electropop grooving skills on June 15th as Chvrches performs in Brooklyn’s Northside Festival. Fun fact about our girl Lauren Mayberry: she wrote an article for The Guardian that talks about the realities of online harassment as a woman and essentially shuts down all of the misogynistic commenters, proving she’s just as fearless as Chvrches’s music is.
3. Dum Dum Girls, Hospitality, and TEEN
June 21, 7 p.m. - Prospect Park Bandshell
Dum Dum Girls have a uniquely grated rock sound paired with the harmonies of a 60s girl band. Think surf rock for goth girls: In other words, they are basically the go-to sound track for a hot and dumb summer day. If Dum Dum Dum Girls is for warm weather delinquents, indie group Hospitality is for our happy-go-lucky country clubbers. Their track “Friends of Friends” is a bonafide poolside jam (just don’t forget the floppy sunhat and cabana boy). TEEN, on the other hand, is a sister group that could dethrone our current queens of summer, Haim. Their floating vocals are reminiscent of Destiny’s Child-type melodies with the electronic/rock sensibilities that are bound to please Dum Dum Girls and Hospitality fans alike. These on-the-rise women are also a part of the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series, so check them out near the end of June.
4. Those Darlins, Speedy Ortiz (and others)
July 12, 1 p.m. - Village Voice 4th Annual 4Knots Music Festival at South Street Seaport
This year’s Village Voice 4Knots Festival headlines with Dinosaur Jr., but real potential lies with a slew of lady artists also performing that day. Those Darlins embrace their Nashville, Tennessee roots, combining a gritty rock sound doesn’t shy away from including a little twang. Musicians Nikki and Jessi write music that is preteen-diary honest, like this track that complains about the guys that can’t figure out how platonic relationships work. Speedy Ortiz, on the other hand, is the jaded student that just aced AP Literature - thrashing, emotive, and angsty in the best ways. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis impressively shreds while delivering equally raw vocals not like many other artists - check out Speedy Ortiz’s “Tiger Tank” for proof. Go see these ladies’ skills in action this July!
5. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
July 16, 6 - 10 p.m. - Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival at Brookfield Place, Waterfront Plaza
Sharon Jones is breaking out of the shell of modern music and heading straight back to the 60s and 70s. Once you hear her track “If You Call”, you really can’t blame her; this band is reviving a golden age of music usually reserved for Oldie’s radio stations and throwback-themed parties. Jones’s soulful voice is like a modern day Aretha Franklin and is definitely worth a listen. After battling cancer, she’s back stronger than ever and is said to be a powerhouse on stage. It’s also worth mentioning that jazz and R&B greats Darlene Love and Roberta Flack are also performing in free concerts this summer (on June 5 and July 26, respectively). If you are a grandma at heart like me, these are the shows for you.
7. St. Vincent
August 9, 7:30 p.m. - Prospect Park Bandshell
Rounding out our list is the rock innovator St. Vincent who is performing the final show for the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series. St. Vincent, which is the stage name for front woman Annie Clark, has been turning out indie and mainstream favorites since 2007 (including a collaboration album with Talking Heads’ David Byrne). If you caught her performance on SNL’s season finale, then you have a sneak peak of her electric live show. Clark blends a danceable synth with a Bowie-like vision and impressive technical guitar skills that extend to her live performance as well. In short, if you want to see Clark perform, you’ve gotta get there early - she’s attracted too many fans for there NOT to be a line. Celebrate Brooklyn! is going out with a bang by booking St. Vincent: Don’t miss it!
Happy show-going this Summer! Let’s celebrate these hard working lady musicians.
Images via bricartsmedia.org, pitchfork.com, pastemagazine.com, thebarboza.com, albumoftheyear.org