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Common Opens Up the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Season in Prospect Park

by Steven Pisano

20180605-_DSC4623(All photos by Steven Pisano)

You know it's summer when the BRIC Celebrate Festival season starts in Prospect Park (even if Mother Nature won't officially chime in for a couple of more weeks). On Tuesday, thousands of people lined up along Prospect Park West and then thronged the Bandshell area to listen to Common open up this year's long list of great concerts, one of the finest line-ups ever.

While there were not many overt references to the current political administration in Washington, Common's reputation is based on singing socially conscious songs, so the topics of race, personal freedom, social inequality, police violence, and similar concerns were thick in the air.

But there was no moralizing or preaching. Common does not communicate from a pulpit or from an altar on high. He spreads his beliefs by walking amongst people's everyday lives, so most of all, he spent the evening telling the audience the story of his life through his songs, from the days he longed to sink baskets like Chicago superstar Michael Jordan, up through the current day, as a father himself.

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Summer 2018 Music Preview

Celebrate Brooklyn
Hard to believe it's already June, and while this year's Gov Ball has already come and gone, the music is just starting to move to the great outdoors. Below is a preview of some of our favorites - check out our Summertime list on the right for updates throughout the summer. 

Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 5-August 11) NYC's best outdoor music venue celebrates it's 40th year with another stellar lineup that kicks off with Chicago rapper (and Microsoft shill) Common on 6/5. Other free shows include Aimee Mann (6/21), Branford Marsalis (6/29), Kronos Quartet (7/14), and a stellar closing weekend with Godspeed YOU! Black Emperor (8/10) and The Breeders with Speedy Ortiz (8/11). Benefit shows this year include a killer double bill with Grizzly Bear and Spoon (6/20), The Decemberists with M. Ward (6/13), and Courtney Barnett with Julien Baker and Vagabon (7/25). 

Northside Festival (June 7-10): Northside is now a decade old, and the clubs will be jammed across Williamsburg and Bushwick with the latest in cutting edge music, alongside stalwarts such as Caspian, Deerhoof, and Liz Phair. Sunday afternoon brings a Block Party to Bedford Ave, with bands and vendors running all the way to Metropolitan Ave.

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 12-17): What were you doing when you were 11 years old? Well, if you're Jordan Millar and Camryn Cowan, you're having your music played by the New York Philharmonic at this year's parks concerts, courtesy of the Phil's Very Young Composers program. (They also play music by Bernstein, Saint-Saens, and Rimsky-Korsakov.) The Phil visits all five boroughs next week with conductor James Gaffigan; details here

SummerStage (June 2-September 27): This sprawling series returns with a wide spectrum of music performed in parks across all five boroughs, most of it free. Highlights include a Canada Day celebration headlined by Broken Social Scene (7/1), Afrobeat scion Femi Kuti and Positive Force (7/29), a New Orleans fest with Trombone Shorty, Galactic, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and (8/8), and Angelique Kidjo covering The Talking Heads (9/27).

Make Music New York (June 21): Celebrate the longest day of the year with this citywide musical happening, with performances on street corners, plazas and parks from sun-up to sundown.

Warm Up at MoMA PS1 (June 30-September 1): NYC's best tea dance enters its third decade at MoMA PS1, with an architectural installation featuring large-scale, interactive mirrors - and hopefully some misters. Tickets include museum admission. (LI City residents get in for free.)

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Governor's Ball 2018 - Friday Recap

by Katie Zepf

Gov Ball 2018 - 1
The eighth edition of the Governors Ball Music Festival kicked off on Friday, drawing a capacity crowd once again to Randall’s Island. Launched in 2011 by Founders Entertainment, the festival draws in roughly 150,000 patrons every year, making it one of the most anticipated and popular music festivals in NYC. In addition to the music, which plays out across four stages, there are food trucks from across the city,
including Brooklyn-based ice cream shop Van Leeuwen, local burger joint Bareburger, and the popular John’s Juice, which sells fruit juices served served straight from the shell (think watermelons, pineapples, etc.) Gov Ball also displays countless murals painted by New York City artists, and there's even a mini golf course if you wish to take a break from all of the music madness.

The first act I saw on Friday was Sir Sly, an indie rock trio from Los Angeles appearing on the Honda Stage. With lead singer Landon Jacobs on guitar, Jason Suwito on keyboard, and Hayden Coplen on drums, the band delivered a short set of songs from their first two releases, You Haunt Me and Don’t You Worry, Honey. Jacobs used a vocoder that allowed him to sing with different added effects, though he also sang with his natural voice. Playing to a large, yet intimate crowd, the band played in front of a projected anime show, with Jacobs dancing wildly throughout the stage. Sir Sly finished with their two biggest hits from Don’t You Worry, Honey: “High” and “&Run.”

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"Africa Now!" at the Apollo Theater

by Steven Pisano

(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

DJ Black Coffee at Africa Now! at the Apollo TheaterThe sixth annual "Africa Now!" concert co-sponsored by the World Music Institute and the Apollo Theater was focused more on the electronic side of African music. The featured act in the first half brought together legendary drummer Tony Allen and techno wiz Jeff Mills, supported by keyboardist Jean-Philippe Dary. The Nigerian-born Allen is widely credited with establishing Afrobeat music back in the 1970s as part of Fela Kuti's band Africa '70. Paired with the Detroit-born Mills, the resulting set was a long improvisational groove that was at turns jazzy, Afrobeat, and techno - and always dreamy. A vibrant light show helped to engage the audience, since the musicians barely moved.

The second half of the show spotlighted the night's big draw, the internationally acclaimed DJ and record producer Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo) from South Africa. The Apollo instantly changed from concert hall to dance club, with the entire house rising up from their seats and dancing. Basically it was house music with a South African flavor.

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