Joey Bada$$ Breaks Out the Big Beats For this Week's Best Concerts in NYC
For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.
Christmas is coming, and with it, a hush will fall over all five boroughs that leaves the floors of their venues beer-free and renders the lines for the bathroom at Webster Hall nonexistent. But leading up to December 25, bands are still showing up and plugging in, with Tengger Cavalry playing a Christmas Eve show on Carnegie Hall just before Saint Nick makes his appearance. If you're staying within city limits this holiday season, check out the following shows in New York this week before you hole up in your apartment and watch A Christmas Story 912 times.
8 p.m., $8
If we had to make a list of some of the saddest Christmas carols in existence, there’d be a good deal of overlap with the tracklist for Christmas in Reno, the new holiday record from ex-Vivian Girls and -Babies singer Cassie Ramone. Her decidedly lo-fi covers of the classics are meant to highlight the very real isolation and loneliness that many feel during this supposedly joyful time of year. Even her take on Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is steeped in irony, certainly an interpretation that its songwriter never intended. Though the record may not be cheery, it’s still getting a proper release party at frequent Ramone haunt Alphaville, though we’re guessing they won’t bother to deck the halls. – Lindsey Rhoades
Big Grams (Big Boi + Phantogram)
7 p.m., $35
Unlikely friendships sometimes lead to the best collaborations, and that’s certainly true of the Big Boi/Phantogram mash-up that is Big Grams. During his time in OutKast, Big Boi penned plenty of crossover hits, and has continued to explore those ideas in his solo work, most notably on 2012’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. The three songs on the LP he performs with Phantogram served as a creative spark for the seven song Big Grams EP they’ll collectively bring to Irving Plaza on Monday. Lead single “Fell In The Sun” represents all the best of their output, with Josh Carter’s fully pimped beats, Sarah Barthel’s slinky coo, and Big Boi’s deft, deep raps creating a potent, infectious brew. – Lindsey Rhoades
The Love Supreme
8 p.m., $5
As Brooklyn Bowl veterans, the Love Supreme have been packing the club since lead-singer Tim Pioppo performed in drag as Guyanna Ross with a backing band that focused mostly on Supremes covers. The 12-piece have since expanded their catalogue to include original material that, with its influences in soul, garage, and psych, fits right in that same groove. Pioppo’s impassioned croon is as authentic as it comes, and with a full horn section and an ensemble of back-up dancers, it’s impossible not to shimmy and shake along with the Love Supreme’s repertoire of covers and classics-in-the-making. – Lindsey Rhoades
8 p.m., $32.50
If playing a packed hometown show to three stories of strangers isn't enough for Joey Bada$$ as an individual, it's OK, because he makes sure to give his buddies in the rap game equal billing. He takes the stage at PlayStation Theater on Tuesday, with Father, G Herbo, Smoke DZA, Cosuin Stizz, and more in tow, all artists that share his affinity for locally-bred hip-hop and Cali-grown herb. Bada$$ cares less about fame than he does about his roots and his native Bed-Stuy, but the songs, hooks, and rhymes (like old-school indebted hit "Paper Trail$") that got him to the deep crowds and raised ceilings of NYC’s biggest venues are an indication that he's a rare talent who will keep selling them out (and put his friends on the map) for years and years to come. – Sam Blum
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $8-$10
Playing under the phonetic pronunciation of her first name, Johanne Swanson, a.k.a. Yohuna, has roots in Berlin, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and now Brooklyn. Like frequent collaborator Emily Reo, Yohuna makes gorgeous, ghostly bedroom pop that seems like it could be from another planet. She’ll play Baby’s All Right on Tuesday, and maybe she’ll bust out her heart-breaking cover of Joni Mitchell’s Christmas anthem for sad kids, “River,” if you ask Santa nicely. Sharing the bill are like-minded electronic acts Washa and Emilie Weibel, with indie rocker Aiken and the Eggman up first. – Lindsey Rhoades
7:30 p.m., $10
Though they met while studying finance at the University of Texas, you’d never know it by the lo-fi post-punk swagger of the demos on Schilling’s bandcamp. The trio has been playing around Austin for a little over a year, which included a bunch of shows at SXSW, but this is their first-ever show in the Big Apple. With no real practice space in Austin beyond clubs like the Mohawk, Hotel Vegas, and Beerland, they’re very much a live act, steeped in the D.I.Y. traditions of artists like the Fall and Guided By Voices, but are hoping to release their debut early next year. The three NYC-based bands that fill out the rest of the bill range in style from the kinetic pop rock of the Sleeping Tongues, to the electronic experimentations of Yabadum, to the R&B-influenced quintet With Snack. There are no online ticket sales for this one – get ‘em day of the show at Mercury Lounge. – Lindsey Rhoades
Ronnie Spector, seen here in 2004, brings her iconic Christmas show to City Winery this week.
Photo by Robert Altman
8 p.m., $50-$75
What makes a great Christmas party? Good food, sure. Abundant wine, definitely. And how does one take that Christmas party from “great” to “the best?” City Winery has found the answer: in addition to delicious small plates and a well-curated wine selection, they’ll host two shows from a world-class performer who has changed the face of music. Ronnie Spector will present her “Best Christmas Party Ever” show for two nights beginning Tuesday. Born and raised in Spanish Harlem, Spector turned 72 this year, but she’s still a firecracker. Mega-hits like “Be My Baby” earned Spector and her Ronettes an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, but she’s also got a widely recognizable catalogue of Christmas hits, including her world-famous renditions of “Frosty the Snowman,” “Sleigh Ride,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and her latest EP of five originals, Best Christmas Ever. – Lindsey Rhoades
Slavic Soul Party
9 p.m., $10
Slavic Soul Party is Eastern Europe's answer to the funk (and "Grunt") of the J.B.'s or, more recently, the Budos Band. On their recordings, and every Tuesday at Barbès, the ten-person brass ensemble pins Gypsy melodies against the sort of jazzy r&b horn collages you hear in movies adapted from Elmore Leonard books. The best part, though, is how they interact with their audience at their concerts, sometimes breaking the fourth wall, and really making each word in their name — especially the last — pull its weight. – Kory Grow
Jamie Saft's New Zion Trio featuring ePRHYME
7 p.m., $15
Kingston, New York-via downtown avant-jazz mainstay Jamie Saft has served under the stewardship of his BFF John Zorn for the last two decades, plus he's added his genius piano and Fender Rhodes tickling via collaborations with titans like Merzbow, Bobby Previte and Joe Morris. But it's in New Zion Trio — the jazz-cum-dub beast he leads alongside bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ben Perowsky — where the grooves reach epic levels. On NZT's debut Fight Against Babylon and the more recent Chaliwa, the majestically bearded keyboards guru jammed on the chillest of Hasidic roots reggae groovage. Think Zorn's Masada under the influence of Bob Marley. NZT has been joined by guest vocalists like H.R. of Bad Brains, and tonight is no different as Brooklyn-based radical Emcee ePRHYME crashes the stage to lend his poetic rap stylings. Get your groove on and light'em up. – Brad Cohan
Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall)
8 p.m., $25-$35
Folk metal as a genre has seen some hokey moments, particularly in its Viking manifestations, but Mongolian folk metal is arguably the most metal of the subgenre's permutations. Perhaps it's because Mongolian culture — battle-ready yet profoundly in tune with both nature and the spirit world — lends itself readily to a metal aesthetic. In Beijing-based Tengger Cavalry, Nature Ganganbaigal’s sonorous throat-singing provides a compelling alternative to the typical clean vocals-versus-screaming/growling dichotomy in metal while the emotional range of the horsehead fiddle contributes operatic drama. Metal's roar and driving rhythms in turn provide an excellent musical language for conveying the free and indomitable spirit of the untamed grasslands — or maybe it's just the band leader's gifts as a composer that make the synthesis seem obvious. Having performed a metal-skewing set at Saint Vitus earlier this month, Ganganbaigal and his band present a more traditional iteration of Mongolian folk music for Carnegie Hall on Chirstmas Eve. – Beverly Bryan
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