A patient New York City, yearning to feel the pulse of live music after a quiet 15 months, is ready for the return of concerts — and Foo Fighters, like hundreds of musical acts, promised quite a show this summer.

“We’ve been waiting for this day for over a year,” the band said in a statement announcing its recent June 20th concert at Madison Square Garden, “and Madison Square Garden is going to feel that HARD.”

Live music is back in New York, and the city plans a full-throated blast of rock, hip hop, pop, country, folk, blues, jazz, soul, country, and classical music this summer. From the biggest arenas to the smallest clubs — and even in subway stations again — the city is turning up the volume. 

So what should you know about getting in on the act? Here are the details. 


Many shows and concerts, particularly those in large venues, will require proof of vaccination for COVID-19. For instance, Springsteen on Broadway begins its revival on June 26 at the St. James Theater, where guests must be fully vaccinated to attend. The venue defines that as being 14 days removed from the second shot of a two-dose vaccine or 14 days after receiving a single-dose vaccine. Tickets are available via SeatGeek.

Likewise, Foo Fighters’ concert at MSG (the venue’s first full-capacity show since March 2020) required guests to show proof of vaccination. Children under 16 who were not vaccinated could attend if they provided proof of a negative COVID-19 test and were accompanied by a vaccinated adult.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that New York state would lift most of its COVID restrictions once 70 percent of the adult population has received its first vaccination dose. Businesses can continue to require proof of vaccination, masks, and distancing in their establishments if they choose. So whatever show you plan to attend, make sure to check the venue’s particular requirements.

“The lifting of our COVID restrictions is a sign of how hard New Yorkers have worked to contain the spread of the virus and protect their communities,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement.

Returning Venues

New York is a living soundstage for all kinds of music, and they’re all coming back. Where to begin with so many choices? Here’s a start.

TimeOut New York has a comprehensive listing of venues and shows, though check with specific locations for potential changes. Remember, the scene still is fluid, and schedules are bound to shift. NYC.com, NYCgo, and DoNYC have good show calendars as well.

SummerStage kicks off a capacity-controlled series of shows in mid-June, a welcome restoration of live music to parks across the city. From Central Park to Coney Island, outdoor venues will bounce to a variety of beats. Central Park shows include George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, The Originals, the Met Opera Summer Recital, and Gloria Gaynor at the Coney Island Amphitheater.

Lincoln Center has launched the Restart Stages, ten outdoor spaces “to help kickstart the performing arts sector and New York City’s revival.” The stages offer performance and rehearsal space to a variety of artists, and free tickets are available for performances. 

Carnegie Hall has announced its 2021-22 season, which begins with shows in late June, and Irving Plaza reopens with several shows in August. In addition, Radio City Music Hall is gearing for a fall concert schedule.

For those in search of a fresh place to see a show, Brooklyn Made, a new 500-seat venue in Bushwick, opens its doors in September.

The Future of Virtual Performances

Performers around the world spent the past year producing online shows to compensate for the lack of in-person opportunities. This shouldn’t go away.

Livestreams brought more acts and more diversity of music to more people during the pandemic. Artists say they want to continue these shows, and tech companies and music labels have invested heavily in these formats.

We met so many vibrant artists via Instagram, Zoom, and Twitch over the past year. We should continue supporting them in that space.

“People were literally relying on this for their health. And honestly, so were we,” artist Tucker Halpern told Time Magazine. “It was definitely counterintuitive that we felt more connected to people not actually being with them.” 

Ringing in NYC’s Return

Perhaps the city’s biggest summer music event is the “mega-concert” scheduled for Aug. 21 in Central Park. Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a “classic, iconic, massive” event that would celebrate New York’s “comeback.”

Performers for the show have yet to be announced, but de Blasio said that legendary record producer Clive Davis would produce the show, which promises to be epic.

“I said, ‘I need the biggest, most extraordinary all-star lineup you can put together, heavy on New York artists,’” de Blasio said at a news conference. “[Davis] said, ‘I’m on it. I’m going to make it happen.’ So, in August, get ready for an unforgettable week, a once in a lifetime concert and a moment that really says New York City’s back.”