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WATCHING THE SKIES

East meets West at the Modern Sky Festival, an annual Beijing event since 2007 making its United States debut. Divided fairly equally between domestic and Chinese acts, the two-day event kicks off this afternoon with Deserts Chang, a poetic folk experimentalist akin to our own Cat Power, who headlines tomorrow’s lineup. Picks to click include Beijing’s self-critical postpunk funk group Rebuilding the Rights of Statues, Gang of Four devotees who really know from the Gang of Four. Seattle punk refugees and Brooklyn meta-rockers Liars fill out a bill topped by “Atomic Bomb!” The Luaka Bop label’s wonderful tribute to the brilliant Nigerian Afrofunk recluse William Onyeabor features Sinkane and the Mahotella Queens. Art-folkies Omnipotent Youth Society, surf-rockers Queen Sea Big Shark, and Peking-operatic glam fetishists Second Hand Rose open tomorrow’s day-long bill.

Sat., Oct. 4, 5 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 5, 8:30 p.m., 2014

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END OF SUMMER FUNK

Summer coming to a close means one very important thing: The time left to catch outdoor concerts in NYC is almost up. With that in mind, Summerstage hosts a pretty spectacular dance party for one of its final dates this season. Disco duo Chromeo is joined by the queen of bounce, Big Freedia, for a show that’ll be dripping in sweat by the end. Expect mostly cuts from both acts’ 2014 releases — Chromeo’s funky, guest-heavy White Women and Big Freedia’s exhilarating, twerk-heavy Just Be Free. No matter what, expect a memorable evening in the park embellished by two of the club scene’s most compelling performers.

Thu., Sept. 11, 6 p.m., 2014

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BLOODY GOOD SHOW

Blood Orange is Devonté Hynes, a singer, songwriter and producer who has helped shape the careers of sultry pop wanna-be’s like Sky Ferreira as well as more R&B-leaning artists like Solange Knowles. But when he’s on his own? Hynes gets in a groove and stays there, carving out a space for love and heartache to linger and murmur to one another. His latest album is 2013’s Cupid Deluxe, a critically acclaimed ’80s-inspired disco affair that explores the underbelly of America’s relationship to the LGBT community. He’s a deft performer with a lot of soul, who will assuredly woo Central Park tonight.

Sat., Aug. 16, 7 p.m., 2014

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Ingrid Michaelson

From her playful on-stage banter to the joy of her annual Holiday Hop, Ingrid Michaelson consistently delivers a crowd-pleasing live show. The quirky singer-songwriter, who became a household name after her 2007 song “The Way I Am” helped sell Old Navy sweaters across the country, has grown her approach from D.I.Y. pop ditties to more mature, introspective material, best heard on Michaelson’s April album, Lights Out. With the outdoor setting at SummerStage in Central Park, Michaelson’s sure to bring an engaging, summer-appropriate show.

Wed., July 30, 5 p.m., 2014

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Old Crow Medicine Show

Fifteen years and eight albums into their career, Tennessee string band Old Crow Medicine Show still play with the wide-eyed charisma of a pack of buskers. Like any good roots outfit, they’re best experienced live. Old Crow’s seven members look and act like a party onstage–a party brimming with banjos, mandolins, and bluegrass soul. With singalong-style performances and a charming sincerity that hasn’t wavered through the many lineup changes they’ve seen over the past few years, this group continues to light up stages wherever the road takes them.

Mon., Aug. 4, 5:30 p.m., 2014

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Kings of Leon

While this Nashville quartet’s star has dimmed somewhat in recent years, Kings of Leon remain reliable standard bearers for a particular strain of Southern rock masculinity, a blythe, hard-livin’ authenticity both beguiling and curiously remote. Big beards, big hooks, throaty howls, a solid sense of pacing: what’s not to love here? Arena-sized meat’n’potatoes doesn’t get much better, and maybe more important, they’re not fucking Mumford & Sons.

Fri., July 25, 7 a.m., 2014

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FOR PETE’S SAKE

The five-day, multi-venue Seeger Fest commemorating the full and inspiring lives of Pete Seeger, who died last year at age 94, and wife Toshi Seeger, who died earlier in 2013, culminates in “New Songs of Justice,” a free four-hour hootenanny featuring politically engaged rock, folk, and hip-hop artists. Singers and strummers predominate, not unexpectedly, and include Steve Earle, Rusted Root frontman Michael Glabicki, the Chapin Sisters, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Aurora Barnes, James Maddock, and Mike & Ruthy. A solo performance by the irrepressible Amanda Palmer, an acoustic set by civil-rights and union activists Anti-Flag, and hip-hop hell raising by Rebel Diaz and State Department-sponsored hip-hop ambassador Toni Blackman should also rouse the rabble. Another folk-culture original, hip-hop founder DJ Kool Herc, mans the wheels of steel.

Mon., July 21, 6 p.m., 2014

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OUT OF AFRICA

The underrepresented sounds of Ethiopia and Mauritania get a hearing from two of the world’s more exciting singers. Teddy Afro (born Tewodrose Kassahun) has concocted a winning formula by mixing things up. Singing mostly in the Amharic language, he leans equally heavily on Ethiopia’s traditional, loping 6/8 rhythms as much as Marley-inspired reggae anthems. He’s best when he’s most specific, as when celebrating marathon men or soccer clubs, dredging up pointed historical parables, or castigating national politics. The magnificent Noura Mint Seymali deploys her impossible-to-ignore voice to explore Moorish poetic themes accompanied by my favorite new guitarist. The dazzling Jeiche Ouid Chighaly, her husband, weaves fuzzed-out waves around Seymali’s ornamented griot wail and harplike ardine while bass and drums keep it low in the pocket.

Sat., July 5, 3 p.m., 2014

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Jon Batiste and Stay Human+Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Pianist and melodica master Batiste, whose family helped inspire HBO’s Treme, leads Stay Human (alto sax, tuba, drums), which updates New Orleans’s Preservation Hall sound with sophisticated smarts and the sort of grit that would lead to an EP recorded in the New York subway. The awesome Hypnotic Brass Ensemble consists of eight brothers whose music contains R&B grooves, heavy-metal DNA, and their father’s experience in Sun Ra’s Arkestra.

Sun., June 29, 3 p.m., 2014

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YOUR BECK ON CALL

There was a time when Beck would put out three albums over the course of one year. That time was 1994, to be exact, a decade before the release of his latest, Morning Phase, an album that arrived six years after Modern Guilt and the artist’s largest musical break to date. But maybe a few years off was exactly what Beck needed — Morning Phase is a dreamy alt-folk masterpiece best served with 2002’s Sea Change. A hallmark of Beck, however, is his ability to dabble and evolve in ways both weird and unexpected, and given that the release prior to this sunshiny acoustic dream had a more dystopian rock feel, it’s best not to get too cozy with the direction of his current sound.

Tue., July 1, 7 p.m., 2014