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The Best Music Festival in NYC This Summer Is … A Film Festival

This year’s Tribeca Festival is a frenzy of big music names from Machine Gun Kelly and Lil Baby to Taylor Swift, Nas, and Kanye West’s videographers. Our guide on what you can’t miss
Tribeca Festival

The Tribeca Festival has long been a port for the serious film aficionado. But the Golden Age of music documentaries is changing that. And now with in-person entertainment reinstated in New York City, the venerable film event is opening its doors to a new subset: music lovers.

This year’s Tribeca Festival (June 8 through June 19) kicks off with the world premiere of Jennifer Lopez’s Super Bowl documentary HALFTIME. From there, the two-week jaunt is filled with music docs about everyone from Marc Bolan to Menudo, diverse genres from West Coast rap to Detroit techno, plus lots of music stars including Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Baby, Taylor Swift, Pharrell, Steve Aoki, Nas, Common and many more.

“The 2022 Tribeca Festival is filled with exciting music programming that features Grammy-winning artists as well as New York bands that are breaking into the international scene,” says Vincent Cassous, the head of music programming for the Tribeca Festival. “Our curated selection of film, talks, and special acts mark an exciting future for the integration of music at Tribeca.”

Those integrations include a new Tribeca Festival Music Lounge at Baby’s All Right, which will feature a number of events from a Battle of the Bands to sets by YL and Show Me The Body. Elsewhere, a “collective virtual reality experience” called EVOLVER (featuring music composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood) will bring audiences “inside the landscape of the body, following the flow of oxygen through our branching ecosystem, to a single ‘breathing’ cell.”

Like any festival, the options can be daunting. SPIN has the breakdown of the must-see music events at this year’s Tribeca Festival (in chronological order). And don’t forget to snag your tickets for all of the events here.

Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly)
When: Thursday, June 9, 8:00 PM
Where: Beacon Theater
What: Colson Baker, a.k.a. MGK, is appearing after the North American premiere of Taurus, a fictional movie about a rising but troubled musician loosely based on Baker’s life. Baker stars in the film, written and directed by Tim Sutton, and composed original music for it. Critics have called it Machine Gun Kelly’s Purple Rain.

Of Monsters and Men
When: Thursday, June 9, 8:00 PM
Where: The Indeed Theater
What: The Icelandic rock band Of Monsters and Men will perform after the world premiere of TÍU, a documentary that commemorates the 10th anniversary of the band’s debut, My Head Is An Animal.

An all-star birthday tribute to The DOC by DJ Quik, Daz, Kurupt, and special guests
When: Friday, June 10, 8:00 PM
Where: Beacon Theater
What: Insiders are saying the world premiere of The DOC, directed by David Caplan, is the hidden gem of Tribeca. The documentary is about the massively underappreciated West Coast rapper, The DOC, who co-founded Death Row Records and wrote for N.W.A and Dr. Dre — but lost his voice in a car accident more than 30 years ago.

Taylor Swift (live in conversation)
When: Saturday, June 11, 3:00 PM
Where: Beacon Theater
What: A Conversation with Taylor Swift is a rare Q&A, where the pop star will discuss her approach to filmmaking. The Q&A will follow a screening of 2021’s “All Too Well: The Short Film.” Swift directed, wrote, produced, and starred in the film based on the searing ballad that she composed, recorded, and released, then re-recorded and re-released ten years later.

Lil Baby
When: Saturday, June 11, 8:00 PM
Where: Beacon Theater
What: The Grammy-winning rapper will perform after the world premiere of one of this year’s buzziest docs, Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby, an unvarnished look at the 27-year-old’s rise to fame and his place in the pantheon of Atlanta rap. Lil Baby probably won’t set foot in the Beacon Theater for another forty years, so see him here while you can.

Judy Collins, Amanda Shires, and Sharon Robinson perform a tribute to Leonard Cohen (plus a “surprise guest”)
When: Sunday, June 12, 6:00 PM
Where: Beacon Theater
What: If you’re a Leon-head like us, you probably know all about the documentary Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song. You may even own the excellent book by Alan Light on which it was based. But since the doc came out in 2021 with lockdowns underway, seize the chance to experience Cohen’s music both live and on a big screen. Is there any better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in New York City?

Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King, and Jason Marsalis
When: Sunday, June 12, 8:00 PM
Where: The Indeed Theater
What: New. Orleans. Brass. Come for the world premiere of Music Pictures: New Orleans — but definitely stay for the music.

Kanye West documentarians Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah (in conversation)
When: Tuesday, June 14, 3:00 PM
Where: SVA Theater 2 Beatrice
What: The real stars of Kanye West’s documentary jeen-yuhs were without a doubt his steadfast filmmakers Coodie and Chike. The duo first collaborated on West’s 2004 “Through The Wire” video and have been documenting the rapper’s journey ever since. Don’t miss the award-winning duo’s Master Class – Documentary Directing with Coodie & Chike.

Nas (in conversation)
When: Sunday, June 19, 5:00 PM
Where: BMCC Tribeca PAC
What: The legendary rapper Nas and co-director Peter J. Scaletter will discuss filmmaking after the world premiere of Supreme Team, their three-part docuseries about the notorious Queens gang.