At concerts in Central Park, Prospect Park and countless parks and/or outdoor festivals across the country you can attend for free, and drink any kind of wine you can carry. (This usually means any kind of wine you condescend to put into a plastic, non-shattering container.)

Free outdoor summer concerts of high caliber are among the finer aspects of New York City in the dogbreath-stinkin hot weather.

But there's more reason to seeing bands live, you lazy, nesting-instinctive nerdball: by hearing bands play live you get some insight into how much of their talent should be attributed to musical ability, production value, songwriting, and charisma. In other words, you just get to know them better, or why you ought to (or not) keep liking them.

For example: If the act can't sing, like say Bob Dylan or The Police (these guys often can't, and couldn't sing as well live as in the studio) but they still BLOW you away, you might give them credit for songwriting and/or musicianship on other instruments. And keep listening to them for that reason.

For another example: If the band/musician sounds surprisingly different, but still great live, know that they're a good performer, musician and that even without all the sound tricks of the studio, they have technique, along with, possibly songwriting skills and maybe improvisational flair. (Smashing Pumpkins sound more like T. Rexx live than they do on the records. U2 brings a lot of soul and gospel into their act and interacts really well with the audience even in stadiums. Blues guys like Walter Wolfman Washington or Buddy Guy, well, they just shred your concept of what a song was into bits and pieces with all their improv and noodling around. Etc.)

Often, if a band sucks live, you get a great story out of it. (Brian Jonestown Massacre, for example. Courtney Love for another example, who took her skirt off mid-show two nights ago at Hero. Underpants do not make up for the crappy vocals, but that's funny to tell of her fall from the days when Hole actually rocked. And yeah, she's rich and plastic so she deserves to be roasted. Not literally.)

Or if a band sucks live, you might  decide you like the production value of their records. In that case, you should check out other projects by that producer, rather than more projects by that band. (See: Butch Vig, Steve Albini, George Martin, etc. Here's a GREAT list if you're interested in studying up on the work of great producers...

Here's the main thing: see it live. See it live before your favorite band dies. Think of all the junior deadheads who got stuck with Phish or String Cheese Incident (etc.) and walk around knowing they're not really hippies, and they'll never really understand, no matter how many bootlegs they amass, the majesty (ahem) of a Grateful Dead show. [editors note: sarcasm to the left of me]

I'm super happy I've seen the following old geezers who have, through the energy of their live shows, made me happier net-net than I ever would have been: Tito Puente, McCoy Tyner, Taj Mahal, Harry Belafonte, and [edited out]