You have now officially reached peak summer. While temperatures reach their sweltering apex, so have the season’s cultural offerings, so to speak. This month, we’ve got high-brow theater on concrete, cult classics on rooftops, and a festival sure to sate your pizza cravings all the way through winter. Below, SIXTY curator Scott Heins selects some deeper cuts for your July must-do list.
NEW YORK CITY: If you’re going to travel the world playing infectious afrobeat for the masses, it helps to have a father that pioneered the art form. This month, Fela Kuti’s son, Femi Kuti, will bring his phenomenal band Positive Force to Central Park for a free show that’ll be hotter than a subway car with no a/c. But this is no tribute act–Femi has blazed his own trail for decades, blending Nigerian afrobeat with other African genres like high-life and desert blues. Familiarize yourself with his latest record, One People One World, and get in line early to grab some space on the Rumsey Playfield lawn. This is one show where you’re going to want plenty of dancing room. Sunday, July 29th, 3 p.m. (doors at 2 p.m.) // Rumsey Playfield, Central Park // Free
NEW YORK CITY: Every summer, New York City shows its love for the bard with Shakespeare in the Park, a series of productions from the world-renowned Public Theater. It’s about as good as theater gets, but for those seeking something a little less formal, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is quite literally right up your alley. Completely free and propelled by some of the best indie theater talent in the world, the series will bring director Karla Hendrick’s rendition of Hamlet to Suffolk Street on the Lower East Side. Hendrick’s take on the classic play features a female Hamlet–as in a Danish princess, not just a gender-swapped lead role–and breathes new life into the 400-year-old tale. There’s never a wait for tickets, but the company putting the performances on does accept donations, so consider pitching in a few dollars. This is, after all, one of the best stories ever told. Performances run July 12-28th; showtimes vary // La Plaza at The Clemente Parking Lot, 107 Suffolk Street, Manhattan // Free
LOS ANGELES: The best theater in Los Angeles isn’t a theater at all–it’s the warm wide open nighttime sky. All July, some of the best films ever made will be showing outdoors on rooftops across the city, thanks to Rooftop Cinema Club. Whether you’re a die-hard Vertigo fanatic, a Wes Anderson aficionado, or just a sucker for True Romance, you’ll have no difficulty finding a great movie screening under the stars all through July and into August. Each show features wireless headphones to guarantee the traffic doesn’t disrupt a pivotal scene, and couples looking to get cozy can even reserve two-person love seats. Tickets for these screenings tend to go fast, so be sure to reserve seats as soon as you can. And yes, the bars will be open. Films screen all through July; Titles and showtimes vary // Venues vary // Tickets here
LOS ANGELES: New York and Chicago get all the pizza glory, but the truth is some of the best pies on the country are made in California’s pizza kitchens (no, not that one). Pizza chefs from across the state (along with the rest of the world) will be serving their best slices at this month’s California Pizza Festival, a celebration of all things crust, cheese, sauce, and toppings at Los Angeles Center Studios. Count on authentic Neapolitan pies, deep dish monsters, and plenty of organic, gluten-free options (this is L.A., after all). Live music, beer, wine, and games will all be happening as well. Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29th; 12-8 p.m. // Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 South Bixel Street, Los Angeles // Tickets $45 and up
MIAMI: What a long way Sam Smith has come. At only 26, the British crooner has gone from dance floor feature to global superstar. And while you might not have been able to escape “Stay With Me” when it dropped four years back, his new album The Thrill of It All is a much more vulnerable and artful piece of work. Smith’s far-reaching catalog (and expansive vocal talent) will be on display at the American Airlines Arena as he brings his critically-acclaimed new world tour to Miami this month. Whether you’re a recent convert or you’ve been with him since the days of “Latch,” you won’t want to miss it. Saturday, July 14th, 8 p.m. // American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd // Tickets $31 and up
MIAMI: The chance to see a masterpiece doesn’t come along every day. “Femme à la montre (Woman with a Watch),” is one of Pablo Picasso‘s most-respected (and valued) paintings. One of Picasso’s many portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter, the piece is currently owned by a private collector… who generously put it up for display at the Perez Art Museum Miami. “Femme à la montre” is a perfect excuse to get to the Perez, where a first-rate collection of exhibitions and permanent pieces will be waiting after you’ve finished pondering Picasso’s cubist masterwork. Display opens Wednesday, July 4th // Perez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd // Admission $12-16
Photo courtesy of Ryan Spencer