There’s something about a rooftop concert that captures the essence of rock and roll.
The intimacy of the setting, the breathtaking views, and the sheer audacity of performing on a building’s ledge all add up to a truly unforgettable experience. Rooftop concerts have become an integral part of music history, with legendary performances by the likes of The Beatles, U2, and Jefferson Airplane.
These concerts have a way of encapsulating the spirit of the times, reflecting the social and political climate of the moment while also offering a sense of escapism and transcendence. From punk rock shows in dingy downtowns to pop stars performing for thousands on towering skyscrapers, rooftop concerts have captured our imaginations and our hearts. Whether it’s the raw energy of a punk show or the soaring harmonies of a pop ballad, there’s nothing quite like a rooftop concert to make us feel alive.
Here are 8 Rooftop concerts that captured the essence of the times.
Jefferson Airplane on a New York City Rooftop (1968)
Considered the first Rooftop performance: Jean-Luc Godard organized this concert to capture the radical mood of the times under his 1 AM Project. The police broke it up after only 7 minutes, leaving D.A. Pennebaker to finish and release it as 1 P.M.
The Beatles on Apple Studios Building, London (1969)
The Beatles played what is sometimes referred to as their final concert atop their recording studio in London. Footage from the rooftop concert was televised in the 1970 documentary Let It Be.
U2 on Apple Studios, Los Angeles (1987)
Same Iconic Apple studios rooftop, different era, U2 created quite the stir with police, passersby, and the local community when they performed on their studio rooftop in LA.
Raw Power KEXP Tribute on Pike Place Market Rooftop (2015)
Seattle musicians Mike McCready, Duff McKagan, Mark Arm, and Barrett Martin performed a tribute to Iggy & the Stooges on the roof of Pike Place Market. The concert raised funds for KEXP.
Hanna Performs “Never Doubt” on a Rooftop (2020)
Hanna performed her mixtape single “Never Doubt” on a rooftop, providing a stunning view of the cityscape behind her.
Lorde on the Roof of Electric Lady Studios (2021)
Lorde and Jack Antonoff performed “Dominoes” on the roof of Electric Lady Studios in New York in July 2021, showcasing their artistic collaboration.
Norah Jones Performs Beatles Songs on Empire State Building Rooftop (2022)
Norah Jones paid tribute to the Beatles by performing two songs from the Let It Be album (“I’ve Got A Feeling” and “Let It Be”) on the rooftop of the Empire State Building in 2022.
The Bleachers featuring Bruce Springsteen
Led by Jack Antonoff, The Bleachers teamed up with Bruce Springsteen for a legendary performance on the rooftop of Electric Lady Studios in 2021. With the New York City skyline as their backdrop, the group brought the energy and passion that has made them one of the most exciting acts in music today. Springsteen’s iconic vocals blended perfectly with Antonoff’s driving rhythms, making for a truly unforgettable rooftop concert. This performance will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most electrifying musical moments to ever grace a rooftop in the city that never sleeps.