10 Bands that Have Played for Free in the NYC Subway System


If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my many trips to New York City, it’s that most people have no idea what is going on around them. Perhaps they simply don’t care. You’re fighting tourists, traffic and everything in between, so it makes sense that New Yorkers and everyone in the city are simply too busy with their own life to notice if, say, someone famous was standing next to them in the New York City subway system singing a few of their famous songs. It happens; and it’s got to be a bit of a soul crushing moment for those celebs. After all, they’re famous singers with millions of fans clamoring to see them and talk to them and get close to them on a regular basis, and the people in the NYC subway system couldn’t care less. Find out which bands and singers have spent some time in the subway performing, whether their fans noticed or not.


The very famous band was set up by late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon to head down to the New York City subway and perform, and that they did. Their fans were more than a little bit shocked and excited to see such a famous band performing in the subway free of charge. Most people wait their entire lives to see their favorite bands in concert, and these people just so happened to get to see theirs live and in person going about their daily business.


She performed not too long ago, singing a beautiful rendition of “Home,” and no one seemed to care. In her defense, it’s more than likely with her ensemble of a hoodie, sweat pants and big glasses, no one recognized her other than to hear a lovely voice singing a song. Since most people don’t pay much attention to those doing their own thing – and they see some seriously interesting things in the Subway – this probably did not seem abnormal.

Michael Buble

He stopped and performed in the subway back in 2013 with another group, and revelers stopped to listen. Of course, he has a beautiful voice and it’s difficult not to listen when you hear it. However, the musician loved that moment. He felt that it was one of the most authentic moments in his career, one of the most amazing ways to make music. He will likely do that again in the future, as it was such an impromptu, lovely performance.


Do you remember him from the very early seasons of American Idol? A fan favorite, the young man often sang in the New York City subway long before he was famous so that he could earn a little bit of money. He would perform, then he decided to become famous. Now that he is famous, we have no idea if he’s making any more subway stops and free concerts for travelers, but he’s been there and done that.

Avril Lavigne

She spent some time with a band in the New York City subway back in 2011 singing on both the platform and in the cars as they traveled throughout the city. She surprised her fans and those around her, dressed in baggy jeans and a hoodie, with the performance, and gave her fans something to enjoy as they commuted to and from work on another busy day of their lives. She’s not one for being out in the public often, so it was a huge surprise when she showed up to perform somewhere like this. She’s not a fan of publicity or the press, so everyone was a bit shocked – in a pleasant manner, of course.

Alice Tan Ridley

She was on the fifth season of America’s Got Talent, and she is a beautiful gospel singer. She took a band down to the subway with her not long after she appeared on television to sing beautiful songs that meant the world to many who were fortunate enough to hear her. Her music might not be ‘band’ like music in most instances, but she was rocking out when she made her debut in the New York City Subway.


She’s known for her personal issues in the past, and she’s not been able to do much in a while due to a contract with her record label that prohibits her from doing anything other than what they want – and she’s in a dispute with them so they’re not likely to let her do much of anything these days. However, she has shown up in the New York City subway to perform, but not as you’d expect. She’s actually a great performer, and she did wonderful things when she showed up here to make her mark.

Cast of The Lion King

Everyone knows that Broadway shows feature some of the most talented, hardest working actors in the world, and their singing has to be on par. That’s why, when the cast of this famous show went into the subway and performed a song for everyone, it shocked passengers. Beautiful and perfect, the performance is one that will be remembered by everyone who got to see it.


It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from him on the radio, but he’s still singing. He recently surprised his fans with a performance in the New York City subway free of charge and completely of his own accord. It’s safe to say that everyone who heard him was in love with his performance.

Jessie J

When she showed up to surprise people by singing underground, the world was shocked. She is a talented performer who is working hard to rise in fame and become a household name with multiple number one hits, and she rocked the subway.

Keith Urban

He’s known for occasionally surprising those he calls his fans, and when he showed up underground to do it, they were pleasantly surprised and more than a little bit happy about his performance. He rocked it out and made history in the process.

Photo by Getty Images

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