The Sound of Summer

Emperor reigns. J Mascis rocks. And Panda Bear goes all California.

For all of summer's many temptations—Coney Island while it lasts, sunlight, Spiderman 3, that kind oSpiderman 3 , that kind of thing—we also get soul-crushing heat, endless tourist scrums, and enough lower-back tattoos to make the entire season feel like a sweaty chore. It's enough to make you crawl into a dank, air-conditioned, alcohol-soaked hole—like, say, your neighborhood rock club!

Among other virtues, seeing bands can be a cheap substitute for travel—just go see Emperor (June 1, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 West 42nd Street, 212-997-4144, bbkingblues.com, $55), Norway's premier black-metal outfit, or, from Japan, the venerable day-glo trio that is Melt-Banana (June 10, Knitting Factory Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 212-219-3006, knittingfactory.com, $12). Emperor's scorched-corpse policy is in its 16th year, and time has pared their technically ruthless black metal into a expansive haze; their excursions away from metal dogma and toward a more iconoclastic darkness are leading the way for the rest of their genre. For my money, though, you can't beat Melt-Banana and their maniacal front woman, Yasuko O: You will never again see a band play something like 100 different 30-second songs in less than 50 minutes, or look more excited to be doing it.

Get your fix of summer nostalgia with the revitalized Dinosaur Jr. at their two-night stand (June 6 & 7, Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800, irving plaza.com, $25). The band's new record, Beyond, showcases the outfit's first new lineup since 1988's Bug, and it begins exactly where the band famously left off. Behold the same surfeit of melodic riffs, the same worn-down, tapped-out J Mascis croon, the same beautiful indifference to making sense, and realize how deeply bands have failed to fill their void.

Also riding the reminiscence cougar are the legendary post-rock outfit Slint (July 17 & 18, Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, 212-353-1600, bowerypresents.com, $30). At Webster, they'll be playing—in its entirety—1991's Spiderland, which, for all its moody influence—my college radio station had a genre category we simply called "Slint"—is a record undeniably served by being played all at once. Just go ahead and drown in it. How they'll pull the show off after pointedly selling all their gear on eBay a year or two ago is anyone's guess, but everyone has a right to change their mind, no?

High summer marks go to Panda Bear (June 18 & 23, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111, bowerypresents.com, $15), a/k/a Noah Lennox from the beloved ex- Brooklyn outfit Animal Collective. Panda's newest, Person Pitch, is ecstatic Beach Boys fare: looped chanting, sunny vocal melodies, and a tasty undercurrent of, um, drugs. Why no one figured out a way to book him outdoors is a mystery, but even indoors, this guy turns a rock club into a California beach just by taking the stage.

Now that Timbaland's record is a confirmed failure, Justin Timberlake's (August 15 & 16, Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue and West 32nd Street, 212-465-6741, thegarden.com, $56-$155) periodic turns at Madison Square Garden only get more important—where else do you get to hear Tim's titanic astro-bounce at stadium-level volume? Justin's last jaunt out had an eminence, no less, that left Voice music editor Rob Harvilla exclaiming, "I was there!" like a 12-year-old girl—and now you can be there too!

There's more, of course: Keep your eyes peeled for CSS, Os Mutantes, Philip Glass, the White Stripes, Beyonce, Feist, Cat Power, Immortal, Deerhunter, Daft Punk, the tranquil sound of waves lapping at your weekend house in Connecticut, and, of course, all those outdoor shows they like to do up in the park. Enjoy the summer, kids.

 
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