Hold On to Your Butts: Nineties Fest Rules This Weekend’s Best Concerts in NYC

Pauly Shore
Pauly Shore

For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

Nineties nostalgia is in full force. It’s invaded our Netflix accounts — with the upcoming Full House reunion in store for next year — and we could very well have another Clinton as commander in chief. In keeping with the love fest for the bygone decade, Williamsburg will time-travel via performances by Smash Mouth, Blind Melon, Coolio, Salt 'N Pepa, Lisa Loeb, and Tonic at 90s Fest, which will be hosted by none other than Pauly Shore. Not feeling the groove? Hoping for something more contemporary? Catch the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn in a solo show or bask in the gothic Americana of Goddess.

Friday, 9/11
Kathryn Calder
Mercury Lounge
10:30 p.m., $12
Kathryn Calder released her third solo outing this past April, a synthpop-driven, slow-burning affair showcasing her powerful vocals. The cuts off the self-titled album rarely exhibited any of the uptempo indie rock characteristic of her other band, the New Pornographers. But Calder was holding out. The single “New Millennium” arrived in August, and the loud, crunchy guitars were a riveting power shock. The song’s distorted riffing helps Calder’s already stunning vocals reach even higher peaks. — Silas Valentino

Dengue Fever
Le Poisson Rouge
7:30 p.m., $17
With context helpfully provided by the excellent new documentary Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll, it's a fine time to revisit Dengue Fever, a California sextet that has been blending surf- and punk rock with pre–Khmer Rouge Cambodian pop since the turn of the millennium. The band, however, is no longer simply a neo-Cambodian pop group: Enchanting chanteuse Chhom Nimol has become a formidable foil for brothers Zac and Ethan Holtzman's bittersweet songs about interracial romantic ennui and exploitation. On Dengue's latest album,The Deepest Lake, the collaborative scales have tipped back toward the Holtzmans' SoCal roots, although plenty of Southeast Asian flavor remains. — Richard Gehr

The Juan MacLean
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $15
The Juan MacLean are all about the groove. And the band's particular brand of dance-punk — most recently heard on 2014’s In a Dream — jibes nicely with the ethos espoused by NYC label DFA Records, to which they were an early signee: that is, keeping house music authentic and edgy. They'll be joined at this show by LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang, whose bright vocals bring a tender human touch to the disco electronica. The Juan MacLean hit the Bowery Ballroom the night before, on September 10, and this gig ought to offer just as fine an opportunity to dance yourself clean. — Silas Valentino

Saturday, 9/12
90s Fest
50 Kent
1 p.m., $60–$150
The various musical styles of the Nineties will be well represented at the 90s Fest in Williamsburg, from the fundamental hip-hop rhymes of Coolio, Salt 'N Pepa, and Naughty by Nature to the alternative-rock mastery of Smash Mouth, Blind Melon, Lisa Loeb, and Tonic. Twenty years ago you’d have to race home after school to watch MTV in order to relish these acts, but on Saturday they’re bunched together, with the decade’s iconic wild child Pauly Shore serving as the master of ceremonies. Besides music from the CD era, the Nineties will breathe again with a Nintendo Mario Kart tournament and a crack at breaking the world record for largest “Macarena” dance, which is currently held by a group of students and staff from the Eggbuckland Community College in Plymouth, U.K. As if! — Silas Valentino

Craig Finn
Rough Trade NYC
1:30 p.m., FREE
Giving a voice to the seedy characters one encounters after 4 a.m. is Craig Finn and his charming, blue-collar Americana rock. His main band, the Hold Steady, are disciples of the Church of Bruce Springsteen, but Finn’s characters are looking for something more grand than escaping Jersey. It’s not the surrounding environment that plagues his protagonists and lost heroes, but the lust for redemption from within. For this Rough Trade NYC show he embarks on his own in support of his second solo album, Faith in the Future, which picks up after 2012’s Clear Heart With Full Eyes. With songs like “Newmyer’s Roof,” Finn continues to wield his formidable lyrical artistry. This show is free with album purchase. — Silas Valentino

O’Death
The Shop Brooklyn
7 p.m., $12–$15
For scruffy locals O'Death, these area shows represent a triumphant homecoming, of sorts: Late last year, just as new record Out of Hands We Go was released, they suffered a life-changing loss as their gear, personal belongings, and van were all stolen outside a venue in L.A. O'Death's devoted fan base came to the rescue, donating more than $20,000 toward replacing the stolen equipment. In the face of adversity, O'Death have persevered. Like Bonnie "Prince" Billy, these Americana-based twang sculptors are nomadic folkers who've seemingly drifted into our parts from another time and place where traditional music is the soundtrack, bringing a sublime blend of crackling, heartbroken croak and a finger-picking sprawl of banjos, fiddles, and acoustic guitars. Pastoral waltzes and shuffles and rollicking, homegrown barn-burners serve as the backdrop to lead singer/guitarist Greg Jamie's pained and fragile voice, and the effect is a chilling one. O'Death are purveyors of Appalachian gospel, indeed. — Brad Cohan

Empress Of
Empress Of
Photo by Landon Speers

Sunday, 9/13
Empress Of
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $13
Empress Of is the ambitious electronic pop moniker for New York–based singer-songwriter Lorely Rodriguez. A former member of the local art rock group Celestial Shore (who play Santos House Party the night before, on September 12), Rodriguez officially strikes out on her own via the debut LP Me, set for a September 11 release, and the few tracks that have surfaced thus far have Empress Of sliding into Björk’s electro-domain, sparkling with seething and aggressive lyrics: “Don't take me by the hand and walk me through with pity/If I was a man, would you still do the same?” she sings on the anti-catcalling single “Kitty Kat.”  — Silas Valentino

Goddess
Cake Shop
8:30 p.m., $10
Gothic Americana generally conjures a Southern milieu, but Goddess evoke a more northerly strain, yoking together Dadaist images that emanate from an unseen Brooklyn captured in minute detail, deepened with the canny use of lap dulcimer, one-string horsehair fiddle, and Mu-Tron Bi-Phase synthesizer. On Paradise, the palpable influence of Kate Bush and Ed Askew meets Soft Machine, as vocalist Fran Pado channels a pagan psych-folk spirit akin to Marianne Moore venturing somewhere beyond the L train — free verse in polyphonic harmony. “Basset hound coughing up a lung/Child with a black-fork tongue/Puppy born with two heads,” begins the haunting title track. This paradise has a dark side, but nothing pristine could ever be that fun. With Ember Schrag. Dunedin sound progenitor Hamish Kilgour headlines. — Aidan Levy

Heartless Bastards
Bearsville Theater 
7 p.m., $25
The immediate draw to Ohio’s Heartless Bastards is lead singer Erika Wennerstrom’s vocals, which straddle a line between Nico’s tenderness and Lou Reed’s rigidity. This duality appears in the music as well, which dips into the blues and lo-fi garage rock without shedding a country songwriting mentality. The Bastards are relentless road warriors who travel without wasting time in the studio, releasing their fifth album in ten years, Restless Ones, this past June. Joining them is the folk duo Alberta Cross, whose haunting vocals and brooding guitars will set the scene for an evening celebrating country’s edge. It's a show well worth the bus ticket upstate. — Silas Valentino

Antarctigo Vespucci
Riis Park Beach Bazaar
1 p.m., FREE
A pair of Brooklyn buddies with a penchant for power-pop make up Antarctigo Vespucci, and after a couple of promising EPs they released their debut LP, Leavin’ la Vida Loca, in July. The band name — a play on this country’s namesake Amerigo Vespucci — as well as their Ricky Martin–alluding album title serve Antarctigo Vespucci’s carefree spirit well, but the irresistibly catchy power chords that guide their songs are no joke. Tracks such as “Hooray for Me” and “Crashing Waves” highlight their skill at writing unassuming pop gems. — Silas Valentino

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Related Locations

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Mercury Lounge

217 E. Houston St.
New York, NY 10002

212-260-4700

www.mercuryloungenyc.com

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Le Poisson Rouge

158 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10012

212-505-3474

www.lepoissonrouge.com

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Music Hall of Williamsburg
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50 Kent

50 Kent
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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Rough Trade NYC

64 N. 9th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11249

www.roughtradenyc.com

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The Shop Brooklyn

234 Starr St.
Brooklyn, NY 11237

www.theshopbrooklyn.com

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Cake Shop

152 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002

212-253-0036

www.cake-shop.com


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