New York is many things for many different people, however, when it comes to music, one thing most can agree on is that in this city, it is easy to see an unbelievable show every night of the week. From three-day music festival passes, to free concerts, it’s simply undeniable that music is in the air. Here is a recap of some of New York’s summer concert highlights:
June 1-3: Governors Ball
Hailing from Brownsville, Brooklyn, Phresher has been an up and coming New York City rapper for a few years. He’s shared tracks with Desiigner, Cardi B and, most notably, Eminem. In 2017, Slim Shady worked with Phresher on “Chloraseptic,” as part of his album Revival. With Eminem headlining Governors Ball, Phresher was in for a bittersweet home crowd show. Right before hitting the stage, the excitement was clear in his eyes. He stated, “I’m blessed to have gotten the trust and recognition from a legend like Eminem. It put me on a pedestal that I’ve been grinding for.” Only minutes later, he hit the stage with tremendous energy as the rain poured on the screaming crowd. Right afterward, 50 Cent joined the stage, capping off the festival in true New York style.
July 12-15: The Great South Bay Festival
Bass frequencies grew stronger as attendants neared the entrance, passing through residential neighborhoods, where friendly homeowners greeted the new visitors as they made their way to the show. This suburban vibe, along with local businesses and restaurants running stands in the show gave the sense of it being the ultimate local, homegrown music festival. The four-day festival was curated with an impressive lineup, ranging from classic rock, to funk and blues, but at the same time, fusing internationally known and local artists. One of the highlights was the classic southern California alternative rock band, Sublime With Rome — a pairing of the band Sublime’s former bass player and singer Rome Ramirez. Just before they took the stage, the Dirty Heads, a band that has regularly toured and collaborated with Sublime, warmed up the crowd with an upbeat, reggae-rock-rap fusion, similar in style to Sublime’s music. When Sublime With Rome came on, though, the audience was electric. Mosh pits broke out and smoke filled the air, as Ramirez fed the masses with hits like “Santeria” and “Smoke Two Joints.”
July 15: SummerStage Family Day
Central Park was dazzled with New Orleans flavor when Rebirth Brass Band and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux had the crowd at SummerStage dancing through the July heat. Big Chief kicked off the day with his Mardi Gras Indian Tribe, the Golden Eagles. Although 76 years old, Big Chief showed that music doesn’t discriminate against age, receiving multiple standing ovations. Following his performance, the crowd was surprised with the Lady Buckjumpers, traditional dancers used to hype up the crowds.
Once the crowd was up and dancing, The Rebirth Brass Band came out with full force, blazing through classics like, “Feel Like Bustin’ Loose” and “Roll With It.” Their powerful sound makes them one of the most legendary brass bands to come from the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, validated by their Grammy win in 2012.
July 29: SummerStage at Coney Island
On a Sunday night in Coney Island, fans young and old piled on the boardwalk for first-come, first-serve entry into the Coney Island Ford Amphitheater. Two generations of New York rap culture took the stage, today’s Young M.A and The LOX from the ‘90s. As soon as the doors were opened, the energy was electric in the amphitheater, with DJ Funk Flex spinning records. Young M.A, hailing from Brooklyn, had the crowd wild with her three-time platinum hit, “OOOUUU.” Then The LOX, the old-school rap trio of Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch, came on stage to a roaring crowd. The event was a huge, free celebration of New York rap culture.
August 22-26: Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is one of New York City’s finest, most genuine summer pleasures for concertgoers. Taking place over the course of a weekend, on stages uptown and downtown, artists range from old-school pioneers to leaders in contemporary form. The best part: it’s all free to the public.
The highlights of the weekend included Charles Tolliver performing his revolutionary Paper Man album on the 50th anniversary of its release, along with the esteemed Gary Bartz, Jack DeJohnette and Herbie Hancock’s bassist, Buster Williams, at Marcus Garvey Park. When it comes to New York and jazz, Harlem is the undeniable champion of culture, and there is a magic to the crowd’s celebration of that culture.
Later on in the weekend, and just a train ride downtown, the Festival took off again at Tompkins Square Park, another legendary jazz neighborhood, where Charlie Parker’s home stands just a short walk away. This time around, the grooves of gospel and blues were unmistakable, as legendary organist, Amina Claudine Myers, and her trio with Reggie Nicholson on drums and Jerome Harris on bass, really served the audience a thunderous display of passion.
As the set went on, the act grew increasingly intense. The performance is perfectly symbolized by Amina’s barefoot organ playing; the music was stripped of material and replaced by raw, powerful emotion.