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The Best NYC Shows This Week: Perfume Genius, A Deer A Horse, Ty Segall

There are so many talented local musicians living in this town — from up-and-coming open-mic performers to bands that headline festivals — that it’s sometimes hard to remember it’s worth stopping by their hometown gigs. A few of the smaller shows this week feature such bands. A Deer A Horse, a grungy, seductive rock band, headline a show chock full of local favorites, as does the singer-songwriter Infinity Crush, who makes beautifully intimate, quiet work. But as always, some of the best acts are those who are visiting: Toronto’s dance punk prodigies Holy Fuck and San Francisco’s reigning garage-rock god Ty Segall are both notable.

5/16
Perfume Genius, Serpentwithfeet
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., $23–$26

On Mike Hadreas’s fourth album as Perfume Genius, No Shape, his sound is more varied and bigger than ever. Far from the gentle lo-fi of his earlier efforts, No Shape sees Hadreas backed by strings, drums, sparkling synths, and singers who buoy his delicate voice. Hadreas’s music is always an emotional gut punch — something he has in common with opener Serpentwithfeet, a collaboration between singer Josiah Wise and producer Haxan Cloak that’s a sensually minimalist take on alt-r&b. Don’t forget your tissues for this one.

5/17
Infinity Crush, Emily Reo, Emily Yacina
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $10–$12

Infinity Crush, begun as a solo project by the Maryland artist Caroline White, makes soft, quiet, and potently intimate songs that leaked out as demos on White’s Tumblr for years before coalescing into an album, Warmth Equation, released last year. White’s music has much in common with her friends Elvis Depressedly’s and Teen Suicide’s raw vulnerability and sincerity. She’ll play alongside Brooklyn singer-songwriter Emily Reo, whose songs are gorgeously personal electropop with vocoder-filtered vocals, and Emily Yacina, another local artist who plays with lo-fi aesthetics on warm, distorted recordings.

A Deer A Horse, Us Weekly, Jackal Onasis, Dead Tenants
Silent Barn
8 p.m, $8

A Deer A Horse are a grungy, loud Brooklyn rock band who incorporate giant hooks swathed in distortion into their gloomy yet energizing songs, propelled by their singer’s deeply resonant, dramatic voice. Their latest EP, Backswimmer, released this year, was apparently inspired by the Netflix true-crime documentary Making a Murderer. “It’s that idea of taking two steps forward and one step back, unable to escape a system designed to work against you,” the band said in an interview with the A.V. Club. They’ll be joined by local post-punkers Jackal Onasis, another band inspired by a TV show — they’re named after the fictional rock star who appears in a particularly hilarious episode of the sadly canceled cult favorite Party Down.

5/18
Holy Fuck, Odonis Odonis
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $15

The instrumental dance-punk band Holy Fuck lie outside of most traditional ideas of genre. Are their tight, pummeling beats math rock? Are they a dance act who just happen to play acoustic instruments? Or are they noise pop in the vein of HEALTH? On their most recent album, last year’s Congrats, they seemed to be leaning toward the latter, with superfast, rhythmically challenging songs that feel like a racing heart. In a new move for Holy Fuck, many of these songs contain vocals, though they’re so distorted it’s impossible to understand them. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you categorize Holy Fuck: They make fascinating music that’s fun to dance to.

Ty Segall, Purling Hiss, Shannon Lay
Warsaw
8 p.m., $25–$28

Last year, to promote a few shows in Chicago, Ty Segall and his band performed on a local morning show. Segall crawled out onstage wearing a rubber baby-head mask to the sound of prerecorded cries, before standing up and expertly blasting his way through “Squealer,” off of last year’s Emotional Mugger. Segall has always had at least two sides to himself — he’s the art punk who lives to freak out normies, and the prolific and technically impressive singer-songwriter who has released dozens of albums that competently and surprisingly update genres like garage rock, psych, and Britpop. His latest release, a two-song EP called Sentimental Goblin, is just a taste of Segall’s oeuvre, but even in these two compact tunes you can hear influences from late-era Beatles to the Kinks. And the songs are damn good.

5/19
Felix Da Housecat, Eagles & Butterflies, Lauren Lane
Output
10 p.m., $20–$30

Felix Da Housecat made his name as part of the second wave of Chicago house DJs, but ever since, the 45-year-old has continually tried to reinvent himself, for better or worse. One of his best turns was in 2001, when he released the album Kittenz and Thee Glitz, featuring his smash-hit party track with electroclash maven Miss Kittin, “Silver Screen.” Several ill-conceived attempts to capitalize on that success followed, but thankfully, Felix is still at his best spinning his signature mix of acid, house, and electrodisco. Wear your dancing shoes.

5/20
Sacred Bones 10 Year Anniversary
Jenny Hval, Zola Jesus, Rose McDowall, Blanck Mass, the Men, Moon Duo (with Jim Jarmusch), Marissa Nadler, Psychic Ills, Uniform
Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse
4 p.m., $40

Sacred Bones is an indie label with such a strong brand that you can guarantee any artist it signs will be worth listening to. And you also wouldn’t have too hard a time guessing what that artist sounded like. The label has crafted an exacting aesthetic, both visually and sonically. Though its artists range from the goth pop of Zola Jesus to the sludge punk of the Men to the psych rock of Psychic Ills, all its artists possess a dark, arty sensibility. To celebrate the label’s ten-year anniversary, these and others of Sacred Bones’ biggest draws will perform at this Red Bull Music Academy festival showcase. The night includes Jenny Hval, a Norwegian avant-garde rocker whose shows feature beguiling feminist performance art, and Moon Duo, an occult psychpop group from Portland, Oregon, who will perform with the famed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch — what that will look like, we have no idea. The show goes from 4 p.m. to midnight, and you’re going to want to stay the whole time.

Mumdance, Mr. Mitch, Shy Eyez
Sunnyvale
Midnight, $12–$15

Sometimes Mumdance’s music sounds like a power saw. Sometimes it sounds like a complex machine running out of fuel. Sometimes it sounds like an approaching subway car. Other times, you might mistake it for dance music. Mumdance is a project by the U.K. producer Jack Adams. He’s part of a group of artists, including collaborator Logos, Arca, and Rabit, who are deconstructing and rebuilding what we think of as dance music, accentuating all the harshest, strangest, and most difficult aspects of the genre and leaving four on the floor beats — and sometimes all beats — behind. His music, like his peers’, is inherently political, twisting the überpleasurable dance genre into something alien and uncomfortable, refusing to let audiences sink into zoned-out complicity. “If something confuses the shit out of you on the dance floor — that’s a beautiful thing,” he told Pitchfork in 2015. Go see Mumdance, and take a dance into the unknown.

Vulture Festival
Cat Power, Frankie Cosmos
Webster Hall
6 p.m., $40

No one would have predicted that Chan Marshall, the singer-songwriter known as Cat Power, whose bleakly sad songs propelled her to fame, would one day be guesting on EDM songs. But that’s apparently where we are in 2017. Marshall has contributed guest vocals to multiple tracks on the new album Ibifornia by the French electro duo Cassius. What this means for the future of Marshall’s emotionally affecting music is hard to know — she hasn’t released an album since 2012’s Sun. But live, Marshall is only ever herself — unpredictable, shy, and brilliant. She’ll perform as part of the Vulture Festival, curated by New York magazine’s culture vertical.

5/21
Deerhunter, Eleanor Friedberger, Jock Gang
Warsaw
7 p.m., $25

Deerhunter have managed to achieve a fairly standard indie rock career making very unstandard music. Fronted by Bradford Cox — a brilliant provocateur who never met a controversy he didn’t like — the group has put out album after album of tangled guitar rock that sometimes veers into noise or dreampop. On its most recent effort, 2015’s Fading Frontier, the group is more likable than ever — these songs wouldn’t sound out of place in your favorite coffee shop or bookstore. But that doesn’t mean Deerhunter have gotten boring. On the contrary, the album’s high production values and songs with semi-normal structure draw out what makes the band truly unique: Cox’s voice, his elliptical sense of melody, and his ear for strange sound combinations that somehow always seem to work.

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The Best NYC Shows This Week: Slowdive, Pond, Trade Show

Two Australian psychpop artists play on the same night this week. If you’re in the mood for bizarre costumes and festival-friendly bangers, check out Empire of the Sun at Terminal 5. If you’re in more of an underground mood, Pond, the other project of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, plays at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Vintage jangly pop also abounds, from Slowdive to the Feelies, who pioneered dreampop and indie pop in general, respectively. If all that sounds like a bunch of noise, no worries — there are also some solid techno and house parties for those of the dance music persuasion.

5/9
Slowdive, Japanese Breakfast
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., $35

Slowdive, the English dreampop band whose albums in the early Nineties helped define the genre, have just released their first album in 22 years. Over this long hiatus, the group, known for its warm, woozy guitars and soft vocals, has gained a bigger and bigger following as new generations have discovered its classic recordings. On its new self-titled album, the band doesn’t mess much with the formula that made it great. Fuzzy guitar tunes unspool over six minutes — sinking into them feels like a warm bath. This week, Slowdive will play with Japanese Breakfast, a young Brooklyn artist with a totally different take on jangly guitar pop and an excellent debut album.

Pond, Kirin J. Callinan
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $20

Pond are the project of Australian drummer Kevin Parker, whose solo endeavor, Tame Impala, has won fans around the world with its blissed-out, epic psychedelic rock. Several Pond bandmates have toured with Tame Impala in the past, and you can hear the groups’ kinship. Fans of Parker’s other project won’t be disappointed: Like Tame Impala, Pond trade in shimmering psychpop with multi-tracked, reverbed vocals and arena-style rock breakdowns. Opening is another Australian artist, Kirin J. Callinan, one of the strangest and most promising artists working today. His experimental pop music emits an aura of discomfort, and live, he does his best to make his audiences feel just as weird as him.

Tara Jane O’Neil, Mike Bones
Union Pool
8 p.m., $10

Tara Jane O’Neil was once the bassist for the Kentucky math rock group Rodan, but as a solo artist she’s released nine albums of acoustic folk that sways between experimental ambient and straightforward singer-songwriter material. Her most recent album, a self-titled record released this year, finds O’Neil embracing her singer-songwriter side, with quiet, contemplative songs that focus on her voice and lyrics. This is an album for a car ride on a rainy day or a walk in the forest. Her intimate music invites you to come in, get comfortable, and notice all the careful details that make it special.

Empire of the Sun, Grandmaster Flash
Terminal 5
7 p.m., $45

Australian synthpop duo Empire of the Sun made their name with their 2008 album, Walking on a Dream. Their quirky pop tunes sounded like mutated versions of Eighties stars like Prince or George Michael. The band’s aesthetic also made it stand out — the duo wear outfits that look like something out of a long-lost straight-to-VHS sci-fi B movie, and their album covers could be the posters for said imaginary film. Now Empire of the Sun are incredibly successful — they added a second date at Terminal 5 after the first one sold out. Their sets have entertained festivalgoers around the world — it’s perfect music for an early summer night. As an extra treat, Grandmaster Flash, the true OG of hip-hop, will perform alongside them.

5/10
Forest Swords, Actress, UMFANG
Mercury Lounge
8 p.m., $15–$20

“We all communicate using images now,” U.K. producer Matthew Barnes, who goes by the name Forest Swords, told Dazed recently. “Emojis or gifs have wide, open meanings, and have a lot of wiggle room in what they can convey to someone else. In some ways they’re more expressive and creative than using words.” On Barnes’s most recent album, Compassion, released last week, he tries to do just that — communicate deeply felt emotions without words, instead relying on the evocative power of his productions, which often have a dark, muted quality and draw on genres like drone, dub, house, and IDM. The songs on Compassion may not contain lyrics, but they are haunted by voices, distorted and chopped up, representing the difficulty of communicating our subjective reality to others, something that’s come to the fore in the era of Brexit and Donald Trump. Despite this challenge, Barnes’s album is an attempt to reach out and express his own pain and fears in a language that he hopes others will understand.


5/11
Omar Souleyman, Tim Sweeney (DJ)
le poisson rouge
7 p.m., $30–$35

Exiled Syrian musician Omar Souleyman makes dabke, a traditional music of the Levant used as the soundtrack for line and circle dances common in the region. But Souleyman’s music isn’t merely traditional — he fuses dabke with modern electronic instruments and styles, creating a mashed-up genre of dabke techno that’s found an enthusiastic audience in the West. But where Souleyman’s music doesn’t diverge from tradition is in the skill of his players, who riff endlessly and mesmerizingly on instruments like keyboard and saz, a long-necked lute. Souleyman is notoriously non-celebratory live — he tends to stand in one spot onstage — but his hypnotic tunes are engrossing enough that you’ll be too busy dancing to care.

5/12
Sublimate: Hessle Audio 10 Years
Ben UFO, Pangaea, Pearson Sound, Faso, Turtle Bugg, Sagotsky
Sugar Hill Disco
10 p.m., $30–$40

Sublimate is an ultra-underground after-hours party that is a refuge for house and techno heads who don’t like going home before 8 a.m. This week, the party will shift to an earlier time slot to celebrate the U.K. label Hessle Audio’s ten-year anniversary. Hessle is home to some of techno’s most celebrated rising artists. It was founded by producers Pangaea and Pearson Sound, who both trade in club music that has an experimental edge. Alongside house prodigy DJ Ben UFO, the third Hessle founder, each will play a rare marathon set. Sublimate residents Faso, Sagotsky, and Turtle Bugg will also play — they’re excellent DJs who always bring the party. Better yet, this party is located at Sugar Hill Disco, a perfectly preserved disco and soul food restaurant in Bed-Stuy that’s one of the city’s most interesting places to dance.

5/13
Trade Show
Honey Soundsystem, Wreckednyc, Honcho, Spotlight, NeedlExchange, Men’s Room, the Carry Nation, DJ Holographic
592 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn
6 p.m., $25

If you’ve ever been to an underground queer dance party, you know that it’s the most fun you’ll ever have. Compared to the mostly hetero worlds of minimal techno or EDM, underground queer club scenes tend to focus on house music that’s more soulful and funky, less divorced from its roots in disco and black culture. Often, creating and wearing over-the-top looks is as important as the music or the venue. For Red Bull Music Academy’s festival, some of the country’s premier queer party throwers will come together for a twelve-hour mega-party. New York’s own Wrecked and Carry Nation are playing, while San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem and Los Angeles’s Spotlight rep the West Coast.

Adult., Ritual Howls, Void Vision
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $15–$18

Adult. is a project of the married duo Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller whose music fetishizes post-punk aesthetics and crunchy vintage synths. But Kuperus and Miller’s fascination with the past doesn’t make their music sound derivative — the innovative way they combine elements of coldwave, electroclash, and gothpop feels fresh. They’ll play with Detroit’s Ritual Howls, whose cavernous, droning industrial rock has an atmosphere so thick you can feel it.

5/14
The Feelies
Rough Trade
8 p.m., $25

New Jersey band the Feelies formed in 1976. Inspired by contemporaries like Lou Reed, the band pioneered a purposefully shambling, jangly pop aesthetic that would go on to influence everyone from R.E.M. to Calvin Johnson, helping to birth the genre known as indie pop. In 2011, the Feelies released their first album in twenty years, and this year, they followed it up with another album, In Between. Though the title may sound indecisive, In Between is a solid effort full of laid-back, confident guitar pop songs that wouldn’t be out of place on the band’s seminal 1986 work, The Good Earth. We should feel lucky to live in a time when a band like the Feelies is still going strong.

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A Freewheeling Night Of Godzilla Music

“We are a group of musicians who love Godzilla and Godzilla music.”

Inoue Makoto’s delightfully simple description, spoken softly from behind his synthesizer, didn’t quite do justice to the strange beauty of what went down last Friday at Japan Society, when the Japanese technopop band Hikashu performed legendary composer Akira Ifukube’s music for the Godzilla films.

Over a career that spanned half a century, Ifukube, who died in 2006, created rousing and melodic soundtracks, with brisk marches and booming crescendos jutting up against melancholy dirges. (I defy anyone who sees the original 1954 Godzilla or 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla not to walk out of the theater humming the scores.) Hikashu, founded in 1978, are a versatile group that play everything from pop to jazz to electronica, but for their Godzilla concerts, they bring in a three-person horn section and the “alt-chanson” accordion-and-vocal duo of Charan-Po-Rantan — two sisters who fuse rock, klezmer, and Balkan influences into lush pop songs.

On this particular night, what transpires onstage is a sonic rollercoaster of thundering rhythms and careening improvisations, with moments of tender, plangent lyricism — as Hikashu and friends deliver a series of medleys of various Ifukube scores, veering between musical fidelity and experimental play. They kick things off with selections from the original Godzilla, riffing on the monster’s classic, hard-charging theme with blaring horns and shrieking guitars.

The players are mostly stoic and focused, but there’s something wild and unpredictable about this concert. When the band launches into King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), its instruments conjure the random natural whoops and whistles of a primeval jungle. Later, a fairly staid, rhythmic opening — built around gongs and synth piano — to a medley from Rodan (1956) and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) suddenly turns into a free jazz freak-out, with the horns evoking the blowing of air through Rodan’s wings. For all the expansiveness, the aliveness, of their performance, the musicians onstage are tight, too. The whirlwinds of guitar and brass always seem to coalesce back into heroic, rollicking finales.

Inoue, who has been obsessed since childhood with Godzilla scores, helped found Hikashu in 1978; their very first concert even included “Mothra’s Song,” an arrangement of Ifukube pieces. In fact, Inoue left the band in 1991 in part to devote more time to his work arranging (and often rearranging) Ifukube’s scores. Now he regularly reunites with his old colleagues to perform these pieces. In between medleys, he delivers basic, yet evocative commentary, offering gee-whiz tidbits about kaiju history with the simple cadences of a fairy tale.

Meanwhile, Hikashu’s current leader and vocalist Makigami Koichi playfully mans a gong and works the theremin like he’s conjuring an evil spirit. (Is there any other way?) For the evening’s high point, a medley from the Mothra movies, he dons a white jacket and mimics the role of the corrupt showman Nelson (played by Jerry Ito in 1961’s Mothra — curiously, a film not scored by Ifukube). Nelson has imprisoned the Shobijin, or Little Beauties, the foot-tall singing twin fairy priestesses from Infant Island who can telepathically summon Mothra. To perform the mournful song of the fairies, the duo from Charan-Po-Rantan emerge clad in charmingly handmade costumes. (The eclectic, makeshift quality of their getup is part of Charan-Po-Rantan’s signature; their costumes are reportedly sewn and assembled by their mother and grandmother.) Inoue’s descriptions of the films makes clear Mothra’s special place in the kaiju pantheon: You can imagine the likes of Godzilla, Ghidorah, Gamera, and others being imagined by scientists and showmen, but a giant, maternal, colorful moth-monster, controlled by a pair of tiny sad fairies? That’s clearly the work of a deranged poet.

The improvisatory, playing-in-the-sandbox quality of the evening connects to something essential about the Godzilla movies. With their miniature cities and model tanks and latex-suit monsters, these pictures — as well as the other kaiju eiga directed by such masters as Ishiro Honda and Jun Fukuda — made for a decidedly handmade genre. We’re not turned off by the fakery; that’s a big part of the appeal. Combined with the directors’ real filmmaking chops — Honda’s ability to handle crowds even came in handy to his good friend Akira Kurosawa, who enlisted his aid as assistant director on a few late films — the Godzilla flicks are acts of collective, inclusive imagination. They don’t ask that we suspend disbelief; they invite us to join in the play.

And Japan’s monster movie industry is in its own way a kind of improvisation, a fusion of classic myths, sci-fi/fantasy tropes, and — crucially — the lingering horrors of World War II and the onset of the atomic age. The specter of nuclear armageddon has always informed the Godzilla mythos, and the creature’s destructive behavior, as Inoue reminds us, was also “a metaphor for the fires that devastated Tokyo during World War II.” (Let’s note too that Godzilla’s foremost auteur Honda himself had seen the absolute worst of combat, having fought in Manchuria in the 1930s and spent months as a POW at the end of the war.)

But Inoue has more on his mind, it seems. Still unerringly modest in his delivery, he reminds us that Rodan, “born out of the fear of violent winds,” once destroyed New York in 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars; he then apologizes to us, on behalf of the winged monster. The polite joke gets a nice laugh from the audience. But Inoue’s subtler point is not lost either: We’re all vulnerable, maybe now more than ever.

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The Best NYC Shows This Week: Redd Kross, Moodymann, A Bed-Stuy Function

Two heroes of early punk, from very different backgrounds but each celebrating their fortieth anniversaries, will play in New York this week. Redd Kross are a Los Angeles group of the late Seventies, whose grungy DIY music often referenced the films their city produced. The Damned, founded in 1976, were one of the first punk groups to emerge in the U.K., introducing a gothic vibe into the emerging genre. If punk isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of cutting-edge dance music in store as well, from the U.K. techno collaborators Demdike Stare to the German techno DJ Dasha Rush. And if all that fails, you can always head to see the performatively obscene garage rockers Black Lips.

5/4
Redd Kross, Roya
Bowery Ballroom
9 p.m., $15

When they were founded in 1978 by brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald, the Southern California group Redd Kross sounded a lot like the hundreds of other DIY punk bands that were springing up at the time. But their willingness to combine punk aesthetics and pop-culture camp made Redd Kross stand out from their peers and linger in the scene’s memories. Their first album, 1982’s Born Innocent, was a catalog of their cultural obsessions, referencing everything from The Exorcist to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The group went on to have a major influence on some of the era’s most legendary groups; members who left the band ending up playing in Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Bad Religion. Over the years, punk has often taken itself too seriously — that’s not a concern with Redd Kross, who always seem to be having a great time.

5/5
Demdike Stare, Regis, Abby Echiverri, Maria Chavez, Covert Joy
Good Room
10 p.m., $20–$25

U.K. friends Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker have collaborated as Demdike Stare for nearly ten years now, DJing and playing live sets that draw from many of electronic music’s most interesting niches. Their 2016 album, Wonderland, contained snippets of ambient, breakbeats, techno, jungle, and grime, sometimes all on the same track. Demdike Stare will play live at the Good Room, alongside the Downwards Records label boss Regis and Brooklyn artists Abby Ecchiverri and Maria Chavez.

The Damned
Warsaw
7 p.m., $141 (for the Fan Club Package, including a meet and greet with the band and merch)

The U.K. group the Damned have gone through many lineup changes since they first got together in 1976, but the punk pioneers can still rock it live. Their first-wave goth punk was hugely influential on a litany of bands in the hardcore, punk, and goth rock scenes. Last year, incredibly, the band celebrated its fortieth anniversary and announced a new album and tour. They’ll play songs new and old at Brooklyn’s Warsaw.

Sustain-Release Campers Reunion
Dasha Rush, Voiski, Umfang, LNS, DJ Wey b2b DJ Xanax b2b Luis, NK Badtz Maru
Brooklyn Bazaar
Midnight, $20–$25

Sustain-Release is a two-day, members-only underground techno festival that has taken place for the last three years at a Boy Scout camp in the Catskills. The festival, curated by Brooklyn producer Aurora Halal, has inspired a fierce devotion from its attendees. A less expansive Sustain-Release event, open to the public, will take over two floors of Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Bazaar, bringing some festival favorites out to party until dawn. These include Discwoman’s techno übermensch Umfang and the Germany-based experimental techno star Dasha Rush.

New Jack Swing: The Hype Dance
Just Blaze, Kid Capri, Brucie B
Louie and Chan
10 p.m., Tickets TBA at door

In late-Eighties New York, hip-hop, R&B, and dance pop came together into a new style called New Jack Swing, a genre that seeped into the mainstream and influenced artists like Janet Jackson. Red Bull Music Academy will revive the early days of New Jack Swing for one night this week. After a conversation with genre progenitor Teddy Riley, some of the original DJs of the era, including Brucie B and Kid Capri, will play sets at the lower Manhattan venue Louie and Chan. If you didn’t have the chance to experience this scene-defining cultural moment the first time around, this is an unmissable opportunity.

Black Lips, Surfbort, the Brooklyn Bluebirds
Webster Hall
7:30 p.m., $20

“It doesn’t seem all that crazy to me,” Black Lips bassist Jared Swilley said in a 2010 interview about the band’s notorious stage antics. “It’s not like we have ever done a human sacrifice on stage or anything like that.” Much of the attention around the Atlanta band has centered around its extreme performances, which, especially early on, often included urination, vomiting, and nudity. Inspired by Viennese Actionism and GG Allin, the Black Lips performance is certainly hard to ignore. But they also craft delightful, catchy garage rock tunes, which these days often carry their shows perfectly well on their own — no human sacrifice needed.

5/6
Moodymann
637 West 50th Street
10 p.m., $30

Detroit DJ Moodymann is known for his distinctly black take on today’s house music. His mixes are deeply soulful and funky, often incorporating traditional African-American musical styles like jazz and samples from Seventies blaxploitation films. The DJ-producer’s efforts are a true continuation of the work done by the inventors of house and techno, who were themselves all black and from the Midwest cities of Chicago and Detroit. Aside from his own music, Moodymann is known for his endless love of Prince. In Detroit, the DJ has a house that stands as a living monument to the Minneapolis star, entirely cloaked in purple and full of Prince memorabilia. For the Red Bull Music Academy festival, Moodymann will indulge in his love of the pop icon a year after his death, spinning a set of his favorite Prince songs. There’s no one better qualified to help us celebrate the life of one of America’s musical heroes.

Bang on a Can Marathon 30th Anniversary
Bang on a Can All Stars, Asphalt Orchestra, Pan in Motion, Laraaji, Oliver Lake, Innov Gnawa, Kaki King, more
Brooklyn Museum
2 p.m., $16 donation before 5 p.m., free after

The New York experimental ensemble Bang on a Can have spent the last three decades playing innovative, boundary-pushing music that ranges from free jazz to rock, while curating fantastic lineups and collaborating with the likes of Steve Reich and DJ Spooky. Their Bang on a Can Marathon is a yearly chance for the ensemble to assemble some of their favorite musicians for a day of challenging and beguiling performances. This year, for their thirtieth anniversary, some of the highlights include the street marching band Asphalt Orchestra, a group of highly skilled musicians that cover artists like Björk and Frank Zappa; Laraaji, an ambient artist who makes use of instruments like zither and mbira; and Kaki King, the guitar prodigy whose mind-bending compositions are as emotional as they are technically impressive. If none of this convinces you that this show is worth attending, get this — after 5 p.m., the concert is free.

Vagabon, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, So Much Light
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $12

Laetitia Tamko, who goes by the moniker Vagabon, is a refreshing voice in the indie rock scene. On her new album, Infinite Words, she sometimes sings her contemplative tunes softly over guitar-picking, while other times she yelps as a full band crashes in. Many of these emotionally charged songs explore feelings of displacement and alienation — Tamko grew up in Cameroon before moving to New York as a teenager. “I’ve been hiding in the smallest space/I am dying to go/this is not my home,” she sings on “Fear & Force.” But her backstory is merely an interesting sidenote — the music Tamko makes as Vagabon expresses the universal fears, insecurities, and joys of growing up.

5/7
A Bed-Stuy Function
Juliana Huxtable, Tygapaw, Bearcat, Papi Juice, FXWRK, Stud1nt
Sugar Hill Disco
2 p.m., $10

Some of Brooklyn’s most radical artists and promoters will come together at this Red Bull Music Academy festival event, taking over the historic Sugar Hill Disco in Bed-Stuy. Sugar Hill is a legendary spot — it’s functioned as a nightclub and soul-food eatery for decades — and almost any event there is worth attending. The lineup on this event is as stellar as the location. Multimedia artist Juliana Huxtable, who has showed pieces at MoMA and the New Museum, will play her avant-garde take on party music, while DJ Tygapaw will bring her amped-up mix of hip-hop and electronic music. The queer Latinx party Papi Juice is also participating, as is Discwoman DJ Bearcat and the experimental producer Stud1nt. This is without a doubt the most fun you will have dancing on a mid-spring Sunday afternoon.

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Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Jazz Epistles

The session is only dimly remembered now. It took place in January 1960, in the midst of the South African summer, at the Gallo recording studio in Johannesburg. The album that emerged, Jazz Epistle, Verse 1, was the first full-length by a Black South African jazz ensemble. With a print run of just five hundred copies, it became an instant rarity.

“It was very quick,” the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim recalls of the gathering. “We had, I think, two days. But we’d been rehearsing the music, playing the music, injecting our affirmation of our culture.”

Had they ever. For just about a year, the Jazz Epistles, a sextet that formed as a kind of supergroup of top Johannesburg and Cape Town players, had shaken up South African music. Theirs was a resolutely modern jazz, as fluent and edgy as anything made in New York at the time. Night after night they packed venues, skirting the edges of apartheid rules against performing for mixed-race audiences.

The group’s elder, at the ripe age of 34, was Kippie Moeketsi, an alto saxophonist with an encyclopedic grasp of Charlie Parker’s work as well as South African folk traditions. Ibrahim was a decade younger, but already a scholar of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Trombonist Jonas Gwangwa was in his early twenties. Trumpeter Hugh Masekela was barely out of his teens, but had experience in jazz big bands and had even toured the country backing a singing group called the Manhattan Brothers.

They could tell they were on to something.

“Oh yeah, we knew,” Ibrahim says. “Because we’d all been working on it individually.”

A penniless Ibrahim, then still known as Dollar Brand, had walked from Cape Town to Johannesburg to study with Moeketsi. South Africa had a busy jazz scene that shaded into the dance-hall music of the working-class townships, which in turn was rooted in the traditional rhythms mine workers and other migrant laborers had brought from different parts of the country. Moeketsi imagined an exacting modern jazz, on par with American bebop innovations, but one that made space for some of these rhythms and reflected South Africa’s own cultural mix.

Moeketsi recruited Ibrahim for his vision, then Masekela and Gwangwa after the four met while playing in the orchestra for King Kong, a popular musical detailing the rise and fall of a boxer named Ezekiel Dlamini. (The show also featured Miriam Makeba.) To round out the Epistles, they recruited Johnny Gertze, a young bass player from Cape Town, and drummer Makaya Ntshoko — himself, as it happened, a former bantamweight prizefighter.

Playing their first gigs sometime in mid-1959, the Epistles quickly caught on. “We were a talented group, and we were big scholars of the music,” says Masekela. “We sold out venues wherever we went. We became huge, and we were about to tour the whole country.”

But history decided otherwise. In March 1960, the Sharpeville massacre of protesters precipitated a hardening of the already repressive regime. A ban on public gatherings shut down all but the government’s favored entertainers; the Epistles identified with the liberation movement. “We had to break up,” Masekela says. Within a couple of years, most had left the country for Europe or America to pursue individual careers.

Today Masekela and Ibrahim are among the grand elders of jazz — and its two most famous South African exponents. But given their differences in temperament and musical styles, the fact that the two men shared a start in a fierce bebop band akin to, say, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (a clear inspiration for the Epistles, down to the name) is scarcely recognized. “Many people have never heard that we played together, because we went on and charted our own roads,” says Masekela. “It’s a surprise for people who know us separately.”
All this makes the revival of the Jazz Epistles a historic occasion. Two shows in Johannesburg last year, with Masekela, Ibrahim, and Gwangwa, were red-letter dates drawing South Africa’s political and cultural elite. Now Ibrahim brings Jazz Epistle, Verse 1 to New York City, with a concert at Town Hall on April 27. Gwangwa and Masekela will be absent (the latter recently suffered a dislocated shoulder, forcing him to bow out of the performance) but with South African trumpeter Lesedi Ntsane filling in, and Ibrahim’s longtime band Ekaya rounding out the group, it’s an event in its own right.

Hugh Masekela,Ekayu saxophonist Lance Bryant, and Abdullah Ibrahim, from the Jazz Epistles Johannesburg shows last year
Hugh Masekela,Ekayu saxophonist Lance Bryant, and Abdullah Ibrahim, from the Jazz Epistles Johannesburg shows last year

The Epistles’ album was eventually reissued but remains hard to track down, although seven of the eight tracks can be found, out of sequence, on a widely available but mislabeled compilation. They reveal a band of rare prowess, with bold themes (“Dollar’s Moods”), broad loping swing (“Blues for Hughie”), and general all-out cooking (“Scullery Department,” which Moeketsi pointedly named for the only part of white clubs where the musicians could eat). Ibrahim even has a solo piece titled “Gafsa.” Elegant and careful, it presages his later direction.
Despite the album’s scant distribution, it managed to reach important ears. Ibrahim recalls that when he moved to New York, he discovered that free-jazz luminaries Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, among others, were fans. “When I met Ornette and Don at [Coleman’s] Prince Street studio, they told me they had been listening to Jazz Epistles,” Ibrahim says. “And we found synergy. It was a natural development that happened between all of us.”

The story of the Epistles is, among other things, a testament to the sheer energy of jazz in the late 1950s, the way it sparked new thinking in the United States and South Africa alike. Though the young South Africans had not yet traveled, they were hip to every new development. Older musicians like Moeketsi stood in for the music schools where Black students weren’t welcome, and listening parties, known as “jams,” brought jazz heads together on weekends in the townships. “There was a fanatical following,” says South African jazz scholar Gwen Ansell. “There were lines around the block whenever a new consignment of American jazz arrived.”

But the political crackdown of the early Sixties scattered the scene and pushed its remnants underground. Modern jazz was regarded as suspicious because it was cosmopolitan and had formed an audience that crossed race and class lines. The regime was more comfortable allowing music that fit its notion of separate communities with their own “tribal” cultures.

Since the advent of democracy, in 1994, jazz has reimplanted in South Africa, with a major festival in Cape Town and a busy scene in Johannesburg in tune with current trends, such as experiments with hip-hop and electronica. Ibrahim and Masekela, though constantly traveling, have both made South Africa their home base. Sadly, Moeketsi would never know freedom; after an unsuccessful stint in Britain, he returned to South Africa, where he died in 1983, wracked by poverty and psychological distress. Bassist Gertze died the same year, also in South Africa.

But Moeketsi in particular lives on among South African jazz listeners and, most of all, his bandmates. Ibrahim places him in the same pantheon with Monk, Ellington, and his Japanese musical and spiritual teachers. Playing the music of the Jazz Epistles now, he says, is as much a point of connection as it is a pure experience in its own right.

“I find hope and guidance from the people who survived and played music against all odds,” Ibrahim says. “When you realize there’s no past and no future, there’s only this moment. The moment of truth that cannot be recaptured. And that is what we respect and revere when we are playing this music.”

The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya
Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street, thetownhall.org
April 27, 8 p.m. Tickets $37 and up

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The Best NYC Shows This Week: Mitski, Playboi Carti, Shonen Knife

Two of New York’s most adventurous spring festivals begin this week. Ende Tymes, a scrappy celebration of DIY experimental artists, will showcase some of the city’s stranger offerings over its four-day run. Red Bull Music Academy’s yearly festival, which also begins this week, is on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as funding and visibility goes, but the fest still manages to book endlessly surprising and forward-looking acts, along with panels, installations, and collaborations. Whichever way you lean, it’s hard to go wrong with these eclectic offerings.

4/27
Ende Tymes Festival
Denis Rollet & Francisco Meirino, Jenny Gräf (Metalux), Joe Colley, TRNSGNDR/VHS
Issue Project Room
7:30 p.m., $15–$20

The DIY noise and experimental music festival Ende Tymes enters its seventh year this week, with concerts across many New York arts spaces. This show, at Issue Project Room, is the first Ende Tymes event of the week, and it features artists who push electronic music to its aesthetic limits. TRNSGNDR/VHS, the most exciting performance of the night, is a project by artist Alexandra Brandon, who uses noise and pop music samples to explore questions of gender, race, and identity.

Of Montreal, Christina Schneider’s Jepeto Solutions, Potted Plant
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $25

Whether he’s riding a real white horse onstage or getting stark naked, Kevin Barnes, the mastermind behind indiepop group of Montreal, is an unforgettable performer. Barnes’s music is as fascinating and scintillating as his live performance — over the course of fourteen full-length albums, the Athens, Georgia, artist has explored genres from ’60s pop to electroclash and, on last year’s Innocence Reaches, modern dance music. Barnes’s wild taste for costumes and gender-bending, sexual-boundary-pushing themes makes him one of the primary heirs to David Bowie’s and Prince’s legacies. He would make them proud.

Pinegrove, Hovvdy, Lomelda
Bowery Ballroom
7 p.m., $15–$19

The New Jersey rock band Pinegrove trade in an earnest sensitivity — their songs draw on everyday emotions and conflicts blown out into the realm of melodrama. Sonically, the group has a lot in common with Americana-laden predecessors like Wilco and indie rockers like Built to Spill. It’s an intoxicating combination — even if you didn’t live through those bands’ prime years, Pinegrove’s openness and sincerity evoke nostalgia for a simpler time, which is probably why they’ve earned a quickly growing fanbase of young people who feel this music deeply.

4/28
Psychic Ills, Purling Hiss, Junk Boys
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $13–$15

Psychic Ills are known for brash, droning tunes laden with guitar distortion and psychedelic flourishes. On its most recent album, last year’s Inner Journey Out, the New York group takes a more contemplative route, playing fuzzy, gentle psychpop ballads along the lines of Mazzy Star, perfect for lying on your back, experiencing the substance of your choice, and considering existence. They’ll play with the noisy psych-rock group Purling Hiss, fellow distortion lovers on the legendary Chicago label Drag City.

Low End Theory NYC
Daddy Kev, Nobody, the Gaslamp Killer, D-Styles, Prefuse 73
Paper Box
10 p.m., $15–$25

Low End Theory, the long-running Los Angeles experimental hip-hop and beat music party, comes to Brooklyn this week with some of the scene’s biggest stars in tow. The party is probably the world’s most influential event for this kind of music — it’s helped launch the careers of artists like Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing. The party is a draw for visionary producers whose music skirts the mainstream, like the Gaslamp Killer and Daddy Kev, the latter of whom has produced tracks for rappers like Busdriver and Sage Francis. There’s no better way to experience this constantly mutating scene than to get down on Low End Theory’s hallowed dance floor.

4/29
Mitski, Salt Cathedral, Told Slant
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., $25

Mitski’s album Puberty 2 was one of last year’s purest victories. The young artist has transitioned seamlessly from her early DIY recordings to making emotional, intimate, yet anthemic rock music that will easily fill Brooklyn Steel’s cavernous space. On the record, Mitski chronicled her struggles with depression, anxiety, and growing up a Japanese American woman, constantly challenging assumptions about how someone like her should present her identity and music. Mitski is one of indie rock’s contemporary songwriting geniuses — she’s a powerful voice of today’s scene whose potential can’t be underestimated.

Playboi Carti, DJ Wavy
Knockdown Center
8 p.m., $20–$25

Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti has coasted by the last few years on his associations with the A$AP crew, but with the release of his self-titled mixtape, that’s all about to change. The easy, woozy New Orleans bounce–influenced production combined with rapid-fire vocals on single “Magnolia” has already earned the track a preemptive Song of the Summer tag from Pitchfork. This show will be Carti’s New York coming-out party, a chance to hop on the wagon while this future star is just gearing up.

Shonen Knife, Yucky Duster, the Prits
Sunnyvale
8 p.m., $15

Osaka pop punk powerhouse trio Shonen Knife have been dominating audiences with euphoric live shows for more than 35 years now, and they show no sign of stopping. In fact, they’ve outlasted the much more famous bands that their jangly pop rock helped inspire — from Nirvana to Sonic Youth. Shonen Knife are truly Ogs of underground indiepop, and their matching outfits and choreographed moves are no less charming today than they were in the early ’80s. They’ll play with Yucky Duster, an up-and-coming Brooklyn indiepop group who similarly draw inspiration from girl group harmonies and punk progenitors like the Ramones.

White Lung, Pop. 1280, Verdigrls
The Studio at Webster Hall
7 p.m., $13

On White Lung’s last LP, last year’s Paradise, the Vancouver, British Columbia, punks intentionally embraced a pop sensibility that diverged from their messier, rougher early work. The result was an album of massive, anthemic tunes with epic, endless riffs and lyrics that wouldn’t look out of place scrawled in your high school notebook: “I’m all about you/You’re all about me too.” In a lot of ways, this shift was a way of fighting against being pigeonholed as an overly earnest feminist punk band. But the transition in no way diminishes the group’s power — it’s just made White Lung’s music something that even more people can enjoy.

Fluxo: Funk Proibidão
MC Bin Laden, MC Carol, DJ Assault, Sicko Mobb, Venus X, Asmara, Leo Justi, Tom DJ
Secret Location TBA
9 p.m., $15

This weekend marks the beginning of Red Bull Music Academy’s monthlong New York festival, a collection of highly curated events that spans some of the most fascinating and forward-thinking global trends in music (full disclosure: the author of this list has written for Red Bull Music Academy’s publications). This night will explore the music of fluxos, Brazilian block parties that take place in the poor favelas that surround major cities. Fluxo parties have spawned a diverse and wildly creative dance music culture that mixes hip-hop, traditional Brazilian music, and bass music. It should be a fascinating and sweaty evening — prepare to dance.

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The Best NYC Shows This Week: Danny Brown, Jerry Paper, Wolf Eyes

This Thursday is every stoner’s favorite holiday: 4/20. As usual, there are some tripped-out artists to satisfy your musical munchies playing this week, including rapper Danny Brown, who spits manic rhymes with mind-bending speed, and Jerry Paper, a mysterious weirdo synthpopper (who will be joined by a Sublime cover band). The jammy psych rock band Tonstartssbandht will also play their blissed-out tunes this week, but if you’re looking for something a little more hardcore to expand your consciousness, the experimental noise group Wolf Eyes will be here to help. Be warned — if you’re too baked for a show like theirs, you may find yourself tripping into another dimension.

4/19
Moderat, Vatican Shadow
Terminal 5
7 p.m., $40

Moderat, a collaboration between techno duo Modeselektor and ambient electropop genius Apparat, weren’t always as intuitive as their music makes it appear. After releasing an EP in 2003, the group found it so difficult to work together that it took six years for it to release a full-length. Since then, something must have clicked, because the collaborative project has churned out several albums of soulful, creative electronic music, with elements of Apparat’s wispy pop and Modeselektor’s harder techno melding beautifully. They should be a rare good fit for Manhattan’s massive Terminal 5, which was originally a nightclub and still functions best for acts that are less about the visuals than they are about beats.

4/20
Jerry Paper, Field Trip, R33l B!g F1$h (Sublime tribute)
Brooklyn Bazaar
7:30 p.m., $10–$12

Brooklyn artist Jerry Paper’s off-kilter psychpop tunes form the basis for his strange persona. In addition to featuring music reminiscent of the Elephant 6 collective’s quirky psychedelia, his creative output has included surrealist video games, a mockumentary, and a T-shirt featuring an “anatomically correct bird-like creature” and the words “Drink from your own ass!” In an interview with the Fader, Paper described his aesthetic as follows: “The point is try to get you to ask questions about it. ‘Is this guy an idiot?’ That’s a totally valid question.” If all of this isn’t enough to intrigue you, Jerry Paper will be joined by a Sublime tribute band with the name R33l B!g F1$h. It should be a strange night.

PJ Harvey
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., $59–$65

The elusive U.K. artist PJ Harvey has made a career out of emotionally devastating blues-infused rock songs that probe deeply into her listeners while leaving her own life and intentions beyond their reach. The famously reclusive artist isn’t afraid to touch on politics in her work — on her most recent full length, 2016’s The Hope Six Demolition Project, she sings about journeys into the dark side of American power at home and abroad, an issue that’s more relevant now than ever. PJ Harvey’s shows, known for their raw emotional power and technical mastery, are worth the big-ticket prices.

The Coathangers, Snail Mail, SIGNAL
Sunnyvale
8 p.m., $15

The Coathangers are simply a great punk band. Hailing from Atlanta, the swaggering trio melds garage rock riffs with riot grrrl energy for catchy songs that are perfect for a small, noisy room like Williamsburg’s Sunnyvale. It’s a wonder that a group this solid has remained under the radar for its ten years of existence, during which it’s released five full-lengths. Their omnivorous music tastes are apparent in their slew of influences, from classic punk like the Ramones to the experimentations of Sonic Youth and poppier contemporaries like Dum Dum Girls. This show is a no-brainer for those who want to spend their 4/20 rocking out.

Skate the Loft
Danny Brown, Dave East, Nick Catchdubs, Sean Cee
Webster Hall
7 p.m., free with RSVP

The main highlight of this sportswear-sponsored free show is the rapper Danny Brown, an iconoclast whose nasal, rapid-fire vocals make his tracks and virtuosic guest spots immediately identifiable. On his last album, the much-lauded 2016 effort Atrocity Exhibition, Brown was in peak form, incorporating a whirlwind of musical styles — from new wave to free jazz to industrial — to back up his hyperactive, introspective rhymes. Brown is a black sheep contender for best rapper working today — it’s more than worth it to catch him live.

4/22
Lydia Ainsworth, NOIA
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $13–$15

Canadian artist Lydia Ainsworth’s 2014 album, Right From Real, featured gorgeous baroque electro-acoustic pop compositions that drew as much from her classical training as they did the experiments of peers like Grimes and Owen Pallett. On her new LP, Darling of the Afterglow, everything is bigger, brighter, and more direct — it’s her pop record. It’s not difficult to imagine this album as a crossover hit, soon to be played in Starbucks locations the world over. But Ainsworth’s bewitching experimental sensibility is still at work here, even if it’s slightly less obvious. Live, her vocal looping is mesmerizing to behold. It will be a treat to see these new songs come to life.

Chairlift, Kristin Kontrol
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., $20

The synthpop duo Chairlift burst onto the scene thanks to a spot in a 2008 iPod commercial. Since then, they have made good on their initial promise of big, hooky tunes with high-quality production and catchy melodies. Now, the band is saying goodbye — it’ll break up at the end of April, after twelve years together. Before they go, catch them at Brooklyn Steel for a proper New York send-off.

Wolf Eyes, Eartheater, Twig Harper
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $13

The Michigan noise rock project Wolf Eyes will play at Brooklyn Bazaar this week in honor of their new record, Undertow, a meditative, spooky collection of songs that represents some of the group’s quieter and less abrasive work. The hyper-prolific band’s innumerable releases and side projects since its founding in 1996 make up a sprawling, self-invented universe that allows the group to warp and shift into whatever it wants to be at the moment: pure noise, post-industrial, experimental. Unsurprisingly, the band’s mythology is strong: It draws on a cult following of fellow weirdos, who now claim the made-up genre “trip metal” as their banner. This show may fall two days after 4/20, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more mind-bending show to attend this week.

Sebadoh, Tobin Sprout, DTCV
The Bell House
8 p.m.. $18–$20

When ’90s lo-fi heroes Sebadoh returned in 2013 with their last album, Defend Yourself, their first after a fourteen-year recording hiatus, expectations were high. The album largely delivered — it’s a collection of sensitive, memorable pop tunes that satisfied their die-hard fans. It may not quite reach the heights of their golden-era work, but that hasn’t stop fans of ’90s indie rock from turning out in droves to hear them play their catalog, which they’ll do alongside fellow lo-fi god Tobin Sprout of Guided by Voices.

4/23
Tonstartssbandht
The Park Church Co-Op
7 p.m., $12

Tonstartssbandht may have a difficult-to-pronounce name (it’s TAHN-starts-bandit) but their music goes down easy. The band is made up of two brothers, Andy and Edwin White, who have now released seventeen albums of unspooling, contemplative psych rock under this name. Their most recent release, Sorcerer, is a gorgeously flowing collection of just three songs (two of which are over ten minutes long). Nothing about Tonstartssbandht’s music feels rushed — it takes its time, settling peacefully into your consciousness. If “blissed out” sounds like anything, it’s this.

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Jacques Greene Delivers Dance Floor Ecstasy On Debut LP

I can’t get a good photo of Jacques Greene. It isn’t a matter of due diligence; having already jostled my way through the crowd gathered tonight at the Los Angeles club Resident, splashing a few drinks (including my own) and miming a few mea culpas on the way, I’ve found a good vantage point from which to snap a few pictures of the Montreal native. But after having gone through several iterations of point-shoot-review, I realize it’s a lost cause: There’s a manic energy behind the booth tonight that my phone can only render as blurs, approximations of frenetic undulations timed to the drops and tempo changes featured on the DJ-producer’s new album, Feel Infinite. Greene paces the club’s ten-foot stage like a madman, an avatar on how to move to the album, which is as much dance floor music as it is a paean to the dance floor itself.

“Making a record is a big process; going into it without any thought of where you fit into the world is kind of foolish, and it’s probably harder,” Greene says a few hours before the show. Sitting in a green room above the stage that’s confined by glossy red walls, he projects the same vivacity that the sold-out crowd will soon experience for itself. He’s wearing black Reeboks and a camouflage T-shirt, emblazoned with Cyrillic script, that he admits with a sigh is, yes, Gosha.

“That kind of soul-searching, knowing where I fit in, it allowed me to work, and through that I had to kind of intellectualize my relationship with the club and with dance floors. And I found out that my favorite shit about them is that it’s so primal and real-world, and physical, in a sense.”

Greene’s revelations come as the product of more than ten years spinning and producing around North America and Europe, starting out in Montreal clubs at the age of 16 and releasing a bevy of singles and EPs that garnered international attention. They also earned him a reputation as a producer able to meld house and R&B influences into a glittering brand of electronica that’s just as much at home blaring from laptop speakers as it is booming from a club system.

Feel Infinite is Greene’s long-awaited debut, coming after years of work and more than a few aborted attempts at adhering to the album format. After struggling to string together a full-bodied collection, and shuttling the artifacts into critically acclaimed efforts like 2014’s Phantom Vibrate EP, Greene has found cohesion in the inner workings of the dance floor, producing an album that illustrates all the chaos, indiscretions, and joys of the club with affection.

“The club community that comes out in Montreal, which is more loft-based and illegal after-hours in people’s apartments and shit like that, was always really inclusive, really fun, really freaky,” says Greene. “In those moments, the club is absolutely a utopia.

“Some of the best parties I’ve been to in Bushwick were like that, too. It’s a good variety and a good representation of everything we have in society. And, in its best moments, a real safe space. Is the club really escapism if it’s where, on one Saturday out of the month, you feel comfortable to be the one person who you really are?”

What the clubgoer is treated to with Feel Infinite is a meditation on his surroundings — the dance floor, the club, whatever you want to call it. The picture is clearest on the album’s opener, “Fall,” where Greene’s patent vocal chops run amok, abstracted in sonic space alongside dancing synths and aural club ephemera: the clink of ice in a glass, the deep breaths of a woman separating from the crowd.

At most, Feel Infinite is illustrative, mainly devoid of the narrative strands required for any concept aspirations. One notable exception is the minute-long “Cycles,” a near-maudlin lament punctuated by spaced-out claps and arpeggiated synths, and the shortest stylistic exercise on an album populated by them.

“ ‘Cycles’ is that moment where you’re following someone out for a cigarette, and taking that little breather from the party and then going back in,” said Greene. “It comes in right before the record kicks into higher emotional gear and more intense songs.

“With this record, stylistically, keeping you on your feet and always hitting you with different things is part of the stimuli. The sequencing in the narrative is kind of just that, really. It’s just wanting to hit you with different stimuli in the way that a night out would take you in a bunch of different directions.”

If there’s any sort of narrative to be gleaned from the album, it’s almost certainly not linear, and it almost certainly is centered around the voices — dreamy, warped, electric — that permeate both the album and the rooms Greene plays them in.

The inclusion of voices has been a mainstay in house music for practically all of its history. Feel Infinite’s masterstroke is transmogrifying the role of voices, shifting them to the background and expanding their presence. Voices constitute the low hum of conversation that suffuses the club air; they provide a lush foundation for the night ahead. There’s a physicality to the indiscernible voices that Greene deploys in the club tonight, and we’re its referent: impedimenta becomes setting.

As I make my way back into the crowd, a version of the album’s “I Won’t Judge” riddled in grime and haze blasts from a speaker directly above. Bodies force their way by, creating seams in the crowd before it swallows up the precious space they’ve left behind. We move forward an inch at a time, and the music gets a little louder. There’s a commotion in the opposite corner, a few yelps of confusion that soon dissipate as Greene mixes into Feel Infinite’s “Real Time.” I see a multitude of bodies in a series of tableaux vivants, bathed in lights flashing in different colors. Red, blue, red, blue, purple. Kids standing on couches, clamoring for a better view, a better shot, while holding a drink for a friend. For a few songs, there’s nothing outside of these walls, and I feel completely, vigorously, blissfully alone.

Jacques Greene plays Good Room on Thursday, April 13

Good Room
98 Meserole Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
718-349-2373
goodroombk.com

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The Best NYC Shows This Week: Princess Nokia, Xenia Rubinos, Tinariwen

We are nearing Day 100 of the Trump Presidency and, against all odds, the world is still turning. Over these intense few months, many of us have learned about the diversity of resistance; not all forms of struggle are obvious. New York concerts this week run the gamut in this regard, from Princess Nokia, whose self-confident rhymes were brewed in the depressed Bronx of her childhood, to the underground pop artist Xenia Rubinos, who uses joyful music to reckon with her American identity as a descendent of immigrants. Tinariwen, a bluesy African group, know firsthand about what it means to struggle for freedom when you’re no longer welcome in your homeland. As our new reality continues to unfold, we can draw strength from these artists, who are far from giving up.

4/10
Jonathan Richman
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $20

Jonathan Richman’s influence on modern music is hard to quantify. Starting with his pioneering proto-punk group the Modern Lovers in 1970, Richman has developed a trademark mix of shambling rock ’n’ roll, baritone voice, and innocent, wide-eyed wonder that would go on to inspire artists from the Magnetic Fields to Jens Lekman to M.I.A. (who borrowed lyrics from the classic Modern Lovers track “Roadrunner” for “Bamboo Banga”). Since the breakup of the Modern Lovers in 1974, Richman has written countless memorable tunes on his many albums, earning a cult fan base in each generation that discovers him.

Bing & Ruth
The Mission
7 p.m., $15

Musician David Moore’s project Bing & Ruth combines classical music with a flowing sentimentality reminiscent of a film soundtrack. His last release, No Home of the Mind, delivers strong and clear emotions on its ten piano-based, wordless tracks. The album stands up to the best and most beautiful works of ambient music ever made — it’s just gorgeous.

4/11
Princess Nokia
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $15

Several years ago, the Bronx underground rapper Destiny Frasqueri began appearing at queer parties around Brooklyn under the name Wavy Spice. Her presence and flow was instantly commanding, but it wasn’t until this year that Frasqueri came into her own, under the name Princess Nokia. 1992, put out on SoundCloud last fall, is her first straightforward rap album, showcasing a confident hip-hop sensibility and rough-around-the-edges productions. At this point, Frasqueri has modeled for Calvin Klein and Vogue and had her track used at an Alexander Wang runway show — it’s unlikely she’ll be playing venues this intimate for long.

4/13
Xenia Rubinos, the Kominas, Starchild & the New Romantic
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $15
Brooklyn musician Xenia Rubinos has a voracious cultural appetite, synthesizing genres like indiepop, hip-hop, jazz, electronic music, and soul into her maximalist compositions. On her most recent album, 2016’s Black Terry Cat, she uses this diverse palette to investigate her identity as a person of color and descendent of immigrants in America. Her kaleidoscopic instrumentation and inventive song structure can make it easy to miss her sometimes scathing lyrics. On the polemic “Mexican Chef,” she lists the positions that brown and black Americans find themselves forced into: “Brown cleans your house, brown takes the trash, brown even wipes your grandaddy’s ass,” she spits. If we weren’t convinced before, this album should cement Rubinos as a fascinating force in underground pop music.

Floating Points, JFDR, Okay Kaya
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., $20–$25

After a reunited LCD Soundsystem break in this cavernous new Brooklyn venue, Floating Points — the electro-acoustic instrumental project by producer Sam Shepherd — will provide the comedown. Shepherd’s debut album, Elaenia, released in 2015, beautifully realized his vision across sweeping, atmospheric tracks that combined electronics, traditional orchestral instrumentation, and personal touches like handclaps. Shepherd will perform live this night, which often means alongside musicians playing real instruments, who help to bring his expansive works to life.

4/14
gobbinjr, Yucky Duster
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $10

On Emma Witmer’s song “bb gurl,” off her 2015 album as gobbinjr, manalang, she sings, “Last night I dreamt your girlfriend died/You should have cried/You didn’t.” Witmer’s lo-fi pop songs are full of these kinds of slyly mischievous thoughts on jealousy, self-hatred, and growing up. More recently, on her 2016 EP, vom night, she repeats, mantra-like, “I just want to be perfect/Anything less is shameful.” Her bracing honesty is cushioned by twee vocals and Casio-esque synths. Witmer is following in the path of artists like Mirah or the Blow, whose cutesy aesthetics often belie barbed and risqué lyrics.

Quiet Time
Objekt, Amourette, Solpara
Secret Brooklyn Loft TBA
10 p.m., $23

The German producer TJ Hertz, who goes by the stage name Objekt, uses the structure of techno as a base for wild experimentation. His tracks explode with IDM breakbeats, industrial noises, and atmospheric flourishes. Hertz’s music is clearly the work of someone obsessed with detail, yet he never delves so far into the realm of formal experimentation that the music ceases to be dynamic and danceable. Hertz will play at this underground late-night rave at a loft with a rooftop space.

Dan Friel, Jerkagram, Parlor Walls, Collapsible Shoulder
Muchmore’s
8:30 p.m., $7

Dan Friel, a solo musician formerly of the band Parts & Labor, is the standout on this lineup of great local musicians. Friel’s bombastic 2015 album, Life, showcased his talent for creating compositions made up of abrasive synths and effects pedals that somehow come out sounding like pop music. His instrumental barrages of drum machines, simple synth melodies, and video game noises are a joy to experience live. He’ll play with the rising Brooklyn group Parlor Walls, who mix rock with dissonant experimental jazz.

4/15
Tinariwen, Dengue Fever
Brooklyn Bowl
8 p.m., $30

Tinariwen’s sublime African blues is the best kind of world music, an often problematic genre. The group of Tuareg musicians, who first formed in 1979, has crafted a unique sound, mixing the rhythms of its native Saharan Africa with products of the African diaspora, from jazz to blues. The musicians were forced to flee their home in 2014, because of conflict and increasing restrictions on secular music. At a time when global borders are tightening, Tinariwen’s music is a reminder of the strength and resilience of displaced people everywhere.

Why?, Eskimeaux
Irving Plaza
7 p.m., $22

After several years of mediocre output, Yoni Wolf gives his project Why? a new lease on life with his latest album, Moh Lhean. Wolf, often known for his uncomfortably confessional lyrics and unlikely genre hopping, sounds more cohesive than ever here. Sonically, Moh Lhean is his prettiest album yet — while the songs still pop with vibrant and surprising instrumentation, there’s a lot here that’s simply beautiful. Though his lyrics are less purposefully shocking, his rhymes are just as creative and thought-provoking. After a few years of self-reflection, Wolf shows with Moh Lhean that he’s perhaps finally grown a little wiser.

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The Best NYC Shows This Week: LCD Soundsystem, Diet Cig, Gucci Mane

We regret to inform you that you probably won’t be seeing LCD Soundsystem this week. If you haven’t heard, the indie dancepop sensation who went out with grand style in 2011 (including a highly publicized Madison Square Garden show and a documentary) is back and playing at the new East Williamsburg venue Brooklyn Steel for five nights starting this week. When tickets went online, the site immediately crashed, and few people who tried were able to nab one. But never fear — there are plenty of other great shows to look forward to this week, from fresh acts like garagepoppers Diet Cig to more established names like the emotionally grandiose group Xiu Xiu. New York still hasn’t lost its edge.

4/4
Operators, Charly Bliss
Rough Trade
8 p.m., $15

Wolf Parade fans who miss the mid-aughts indie rock band’s explosive energy and dissonant pop sensibilities should be pleased with Operators, a side project by Dan Boeckner, one of the band’s two lead singers. Operators’ last album, 2016’s Blue Wave, showcased Boeckner’s unmistakably rough-edged vocals and endlessly surprising songwriting. Unlike Wolf Parade and Boeckner’s other former project, Handsome Furs, Operators have distinct new wave and ’80s pop influences. It’s just enough to make them stand out from the slew of Wolf Parade offshoots without losing what makes Boeckner’s music great.

4/6
Xiu Xiu, Dreamcrusher, Gold Dime
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $13

Jamie Stewart — leader and visionary behind the experimental pop project Xiu Xiu — is one intense dude. Since 2002, the Bay Area musician has performed and recorded with a wide variety of collaborators on work that is often painfully emotional. In Stewart’s music, beats drop in and out, guitars and synths stretch and groan, percussion crashes into noise and pulls back to near-silence. The one constant is Stewart’s trembling, rich voice, which soars above whatever din he’s created. One former Voice writer compares seeing Xiu Xiu to being punched in the gut — but damn, does it feel good.

LCD Soundsystem
Brooklyn Steel
7 p.m., whatever you can find on StubHub

James Murphy’s übercool, New York–centric dancepop project LCD Soundsystem bid farewell in 2011 in a grand fashion: five nights of sold-out shows at Terminal 5, one massive send-off at Madison Square Garden, and a feature-length documentary. But the goodbye didn’t stick — just a few years later, Murphy was playing festivals as LCD again. And now he’s announced new music and a string of shows at the massive new industrial space Brooklyn Steel. Thanks to Murphy’s rabid fan base, the shows sold out immediately, but if you’re a true fan who wasn’t too pissed off by Murphy’s 2011 stunt, you can probably find tickets on StubHub for about the cost of a plane ticket to Europe.

Inga Copeland, Sadaf, Blursome
Knitting Factory
8 p.m., $15–$17

Hype Williams — a collaboration between musicians Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland — were one of the most mystifying and fascinating projects of the last decade. The group’s affected, unsettling work felt like performance art warped through electronic dance music. When their partnership ended, Blunt and Copeland went their separate ways. Since then, Copeland, who was the intoxicating voice on Hype Williams’ bizarre tracks, has released work that sounds more like the sideways pop of groups like jj or even Swedish star Lykke Li. She’ll play alongside the politically provocative Brooklyn techno DJ Sadaf.

4/7
Diet Cig, Daddy Issues
Baby’s All Right
7 p.m., $13–$15

New York powerpoppers Diet Cig write highly relatable anthems about millennial anxiety. Their new album’s title, Swear I’m Good at This, sums up a gnawing uncertainty that almost everyone experiences in their twenties. This destabilizing combination of newly found self-assurance and creeping insecurity is even more intense when we’ve lost the former signposts of adulthood like marriage, children, and homeownership. Diet Cig’s headbanging rock tunes reassure us that even if we have no idea what we’re doing, at least we’re not alone.

Son Volt, Anders Parker
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $22.50–$25

Uncle Tupelo remains one of the iconic acts of ’90s alt-country. But Son Volt, the project started by Uncle Tupelo member Jay Farrar in 1994, has now been around for many more years than that original band. His gentle bluesy folk uses standard country instrumentation like slide guitar to frame memorable melodies and solid storytelling. Like the best country artists, Farrar is an observer of America, often writing about mythical figures like the small-town drunk or the long-suffering working man filled with colorful details.

Huerco S., Via App, Will DiMaggio
Sunnyvale
Midnight, $10–$15

Last year, Brooklyn producer Huerco S. released one of the best ambient records of the decade. For Those of You Who Have Never (And Those Who Have) is composed of nine gorgeous atmospheric tracks. Beats wander in and out of the recordings, never fully forming into anything danceable, like tuning through static on a radio dial. Huerco S. will play with two other solid local acts, the meditative techno producer Via App and Will DiMaggio, who makes complex, joyful house.

4/8
The Carry Nation, DJ Minx, Bearcat, Maze & Masters, Andy Egelhoff
Good Room
10 p.m., $10–$20

The Carry Nation are a DJ duo — composed of Will Automagic and Nita Aviance — who host some of the city’s best queer events. They’re one of those acts whose presence on a bill is a signal that no matter who else is playing, the party is worth attending. The Automagic and Aviance are known for their killer marathon house sets, but on this night they’ll be joined by other serious contenders for DJ stardom, including Discwoman’s Bearcat and the funky Detroit house artist DJ Minx.

4/9
Charlemagne Palestine, Rhys Chatham Duo, C. Spencer Yeh, HEVM
Le Poisson Rouge
7:30 p.m., $20–$25

Rhys Chatham is a multi-instrumentalist and composer of avant-garde music. But he’s most known for his work as the first music director at the New York experimental venue the Kitchen, which has shaped New York’s fringe music scene since its founding in 1971. On this night, he’ll be collaborating with the avant-garde performance artist Charlemagne Palestine. Representatives of a younger generation of experimental artists will play as well, including C. Spencer Yeh, whose music is highly conceptual and sometimes sounds like someone running a cassette tape through a blender.

Gucci Mane
Terminal 5
7 p.m., $40

Last year, the flamboyant Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane was released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for federal gun and drug charges. Shockingly, the rapper who has an ice cream cone tattooed on his face emerged from prison a changed man. He lost seventy pounds, seemingly quit drugs, and was even sporting a six-pack. This transformation is evident on his silly, playful late-2016 release, The Return of East Atlanta Santa, a nominally Christmas-themed album that finds Gucci discussing his favorite subjects: sex, drugs, guns. Perhaps he hasn’t changed that much, but prison certainly gave him a more optimistic outlook. He’s never sounded so joyfully nasty.