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Big Rock in the Park

Which concerts are worth more than A/C?


At the Animal Collective concert, the first Seaport Music Festival show of the season, on June 1.  

Lorimer Street near Driggs Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn;
Claim to fame: A chance to see big-name acts at a suitably indie location without ever leaving the ’Burg.
This year’s heavy hitters: Superchunk, Cat Power, Sonic Youth, TV on the Radio.
Pros: Authentically gritty locale with lots of historical cred (the pool was built in 1936). Plus, it booked Erasure.
Cons: Spotty sound, zombie hipsters, hard concrete underfoot, dreadful lines for food and drink.
Ratio of pleasure to irritation: 2:1; substantially worse if you depend on the L to get you back to Manhattan late at night.

Prospect Park Bandshell;
Claim to fame: The only real chance for brownstone-Brooklynites to see shows close to home.
This year’s heavy hitters: Manu Chao, Ani DiFranco, the Hold Steady.
Pros: You can catch a ticketed show at no charge by hovering just outside the fence. But most of the shows are free anyway.
Cons: A hike for Manhattanites, and the huge-capacity venue (the largest in this roundup) means headaches once you’ve arrived.
Ratio of pleasure to irritation: 3:4. The crowd tends toward the easygoing, though with the proximity to Park Slope, one never knows.

Pier 17, South Street Seaport;
Claim to fame: Drink, dance, make merry, and enjoy the cool breeze that fills the enormous ships flanking the stage.
This year’s heavy hitters: Fujiya & Miyagi, the National. Plus Ruben Studdard!
Pros: Dramatic backdrop views, impeccable sound, daring of-the-moment bookings, and lots of enormous cups of cheap beer. And, oh, yeah: all free, all the time.
Cons: The open-door policy makes for massive crowds even for so-so acts. Plus, you’ve already missed most of the best shows on the lineup.
Ratio of pleasure to irritation: 5:1. Let’s hope it can keep the momentum going for at least a couple of years.

Central Park;
Claim to fame: New York’s most-established and best-funded outdoor-concert series.
This year’s heavy hitters: The Decemberists, Beastie Boys, the Black Crowes, Rufus Wainwright.
Pros: You know what you’re getting: satisfyingly long shows by in-demand talent.
Cons: You know what you’re getting: interminable lines (for entry and, much worse, beer) and a long, slow trudge out of the park at concert’s end. Plus all the aforementioned acts are playing the expensive benefit shows, not the free ones.
Ratio of pleasure to irritation: 2:4. Is it really better seeing these acts outdoors than it would be inside with much better sound? Plus, what’s with all the world music this year?


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