This weekend Neil Young, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Band of Horses and K’naan will take the stage at Central Park’s Great Lawn as part of the Global Citizen Festival, a charity show that’s bringing attention to the issue of global poverty.
If you’re one of the lucky ones in NYC headed to the Global Citizen Festival, have fun and take photos. Or wait -- don’t take too many photos. You don’t want to be that guy, watching the whole show though an iPhone. The Black Keys are sick in concert, plus Neil Young’s like an elder statesman, so have some respect.
Thinking about how cool it would be to see The Black Keys live again got us thinking about other Central Park concerts we wish we’d seen. Call it living vicariously. Call it nostalgia. Call it whatever you want -- you know you wish you’d been there too.
1. Elton John (1980)
This was one of a handful of truly historic Central Park shows. Even if you don’t think Elton John is your thing, I bet you’ve caught yourself belting out Rocket Man after a few shots of whiskey or maybe in the shower all alone. He’s the man -- a glittery man, but still.
Supposedly over 300,000 people showed up -- though in reality far less -- and he wore a weird general’s uniform-type costume with piano keys all over it. For the encore he came out dressed as… Donald Duck. Sounds awesome.
2. Beastie Boys (2007)
Maybe you were there -- lucky bastard. I saw the Beastie Boys twice, once in sixth grade (we sat in a kid-parent-kid-parent formation and the parents wore earplugs -- embarrassing), and a second time when I snuck off to Austin, Texas, my senior year of high school with some friends. Totally worth defying my parents for that one. Seeing them a few years ago in Central Park, with MCA, would have been epic. RIP.
3. Simon and Garfunkel (1981)
Like Elton, this is another one of a handful of historic shows in the park (I refuse to add Garth Brooks or Dave Matthews to this list -- sue me). If you think Simon and Garfunkel are too slow, too mellow, too whatever -- go watch the movie 'The Graduate,' in which Dustin Hoffman plays a dazed and confused college grad who has an affair with an older woman -- a.k.a. Mrs. Robinson -- and see if the soundtrack doesn’t rock.
4. Diana Ross (1983)
She’s a true diva, and she doesn’t need meat dresses or bras that squirt whipped cream to command an audience. No offense, Lady Gaga. Katy Perry can take offense. Andy Warhol was at the show, and Ross wore a sparkly tangerine bodysuit (it was 1983, that was probably pretty normal then) and the first night she had to stop the show halfway through because of a rainstorm. She came back the next night, and the combined shows (especially that first night when she sang in a downpour) are still called “iconic.”
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers (1975)
OK, so this one wasn’t free (tickets were supposedly $1 to $3 which these days is cheaper than a pack of gum), and it was part of the Schaefer Music Festival, but it was Central Park and it was summer, so it counts.
Normally, less than 8,000 people came to the shows, but this one had about 15,000. The show inspired the mayor to give Marley a key to the city. It would have been fun to see Marley play in a broom closet, so watching him outside, in 1975, in Central Park, sounds pretty huge. Since we can’t do that, check out Kevin Macdonald’s awesome documentary 'Marley' to get your fix.
If you’re missing The Black Keys this weekend -- and can't catch the live streams -- check them out on October 5 at the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ. You can listen to the live broadcast on KROQ.