Run the Jewels and Jack White Top This Weekend's NYC Concerts
Jack White told his regular openers to take the night off and asked these guys to sub in at Madison Square Garden.
A sold-out show doesn't mean much anymore: You might just reflexively head over to a site like StubHub or see if anybody is reselling on Ticketmaster, or, if you haven't seen that Dateline episode a thousand times already, you might press your luck on Craigslist and arrange an awkward meet-up next to Zoltar outside Gem Spa. That afternoon-killing legwork only comes after texting anyone you think might have a lead on some sort of guest-list spot, a humiliating exercise in itself. Employ any of those tactics — or just check to see if a few tickets are made available at the door — to gain access to these shows this weekend in New York.
Friday, January 30: Jack White and Run the Jewels at Madison Square Garden Jack White is nothing if not consistent. Predictably, his solo efforts employ a whitewashed blues-rock formula, but darned if he hasn’t hit the jackpot (see what we did there?) of record sales time and again. In 2014, his album Lazaretto debuted at No. 1 and went on to sell more vinyl copies than any other LP last year. A show at Madison Square Garden on January 30 seems far removed from the tenacious Detroit garage duo that some of us first loved him for. This writer, for instance, misses Meg’s charming yet dubious drumming and the eager hunger of those early records by the White Stripes. There was a time when making a minimalistic album, loosely sewn from homespun threads, was a bold move. That time is gone, thanks to the DIY internet epoch, and White’s greatest achievement today may be staying atop the not-so-indie rock industry without compromising his roots beyond recognition. He’s become a bona fide rock star and can’t be faulted for that. Opening for White at this Garden show are Run the Jewels, the rap duo behind this year's scathing, brilliant Run the Jewels 2 LP. Tweeted member El-P on January 8: "When you get asked to open for Jack White at MSG you say yes. It's in the Bible." (His Bible is apparently an updated version.) If you don't get tickets, Pandora is live-streaming the show. — Linda Leseman
Friday, January 30: Machine Head at Irving Plaza The mind longs to make sense of the chaos in Machine Head's 2014 music video for "Now We Die." For starters, there's a string quartet of circus clowns, a beheading, Satan leading the pope on a chain, a butcher in a gas mask, a marshmallow roast, an execution squad, four guys strung upside-down like hunks of meat while one sings with drool coming out of his mouth, and, of course, female nudity. There must be a message in there. Somewhere. But never mind our confusion, as plenty of Machine Head fans have connected with their latest album, Bloodstone & Diamonds. It leaked last year and then after its official release made the rounds on many a metal blog’s year-end best-of list. Concertgoers at the California group’s show on January 30 at Irving Plaza are likely to be dedicated enthusiasts of this particular style of new American heavy metal. Indeed, devoted fans have sustained the band’s now twenty-plus-year career. — Linda Leseman
Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31: The Thompson Family at City Winery Anyone who cringed through folk-rock gods Richard and Linda Thompson's brilliant 1982 breakup masterpiece Shoot Out the Lights (and subsequent high-anxiety tour) may want to revisit this family reunion organized by their son, Teddy. Containing songs about love, forgiveness, unforgiveness, and confusion, the clan's recent Family is an emotional roller coaster of a collaborative album involving Teddy's parents, sister, step-siblings, an in-law, and a nephew. With the exception of Linda, alas, they'll all be on hand for this musical family-therapy session at City Winery. The show is sold out, but there's a waiting list available online. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show runs from 8 to 10 p.m. — Richard Gehr
The Grand Prospect
Saturday, January 31: Dolly Parton Birthday Party at Union Pool Did you know that it’s the Queen of Country Music’s birthday? Better yet, did you know that Dolly Parton is the Queen of Country Music? With hits like “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and “My Tennessee Mountain Home,” how could you forget the blonde bombshell? Tonight’s hootenanny features Brooklyn’s premier Dolly Parton cover band, Doll Parts; Americana/alt-country band Grand Prospect; the “elderly” musical comedy duo Fantasy Grandma; soul singer Starr Busby, drag performances, and delicious cake. Truly an event designed to celebrate Parton’s birthday in the way that she would most enjoy! At least we hope, right? — Gillian Speiser
Demian Becerra / Holy Mountain Photography, courtesy of management
Saturday, January 31: Giraffage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Known for what he calls “sample-based pop music,” San Francisco–based producer Giraffage recently opened for Porter Robinson on his Worlds live tour. Known for his remixes of r&b and pop hits ranging from The-Dream’s entire EP Love/Hate to Janet Jackson and Tinashe, Giraffage has also released two full-length albums and, most recently, the No Reason in November EP. His signature bubblegum electronic sound is present throughout, creating a dreamy and surreal style that is reminiscent of his chiptune past. Step into dreamland at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Opening the show is L.A.'s SpazzKid. — Lina Abascal
Saturday, January 31: Artificial Brain at The Acheron If you’re itching to inundate your senses with the experimental and the extreme, Saturday, January 31, will be the night to scratch that itch, as bassist Sam Smith of Artificial Brain attempts back-to-back performances in two different boroughs. First he joins guitarist Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia) and cellist Thomas Ulrich to premiere avant-garde duos composed and co-performed by guitarist Nick Didkovsky (Vomit Fist, Doctor Nerve). This goes down at Spectrum (121 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side) as part of the WinterProg festival at 7:30 p.m. Then Smith will teleport it to the Acheron (57 Waterbury Street in Brooklyn) to rip through a scarily technical death metal set with Artificial Brain, following openers Kosmodemonic and Throaat and preceding Horrendous. Says Smith on Facebook, “Kosmodemonic goes on at 9 at the Acheron. So this is physically possible.” We shall see. The Acheron show is open to everyone 21 and older and it's $10. Doors are at 8 p.m. — Linda Leseman
Saturday, January 31: Sunflower Bean at Baby's All Right The Brooklyn psych-pop-rock trio play the release show tonight for their Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP, the lead single of which, "Tame Impala," recalls Seventies-rock-fueled midnight trips in the desert, with sounds that conjure a wind-whipped Joshua Tree National Park. After being stranded in Paris earlier this week because of the not-blizzard of 2015, the band's back in New York for the Baby's All Right show. "There will be cupcakes!" promises singer Julia Cumming.
Saturday, January 31: Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts Ladysmith Black Mambazo: This sublime nine-member a cappella choral group founded by Joseph Shabalala is rooted in the Zulu musical tradition known as isicathamiya, which extends back to 1890s minstrel shows and the subsequent displacement of rural Zulu men to slavish urban factories and mining centers where they dreamt of home. The style waned, then was revived when Ladysmith collaborated with Paul Simon on Graceland. Ladysmith's most recent release, last year's Always With Us, pays tribute to Nellie Shabalala, Joseph's late wife. It collects 2001 recordings of Nellie and her church choir, over which Ladysmith add their own voices. — Brad Cohan
Saturday, January 31: Savages at Saint Vitus There's a ferocity to Savages that can't be denied. After forming in 2011, the all-girl London band made waves in the U.K. and U.S. with its early releases, peaking in popularity with 2013's Silence Yourself. The music is quintessential postpunk, recalling the greats like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division. Live, the room is fully charged with emotion: there's no escaping the raw power of singer Jehnny Beth's howls. On their current string of New York club dates, Savages are previewing new material. All shows are sold out, but tickets are available on the secondary market. Rounding out the bill on January 31 is black-clad New York rocker Nick Zinner. — Jill Menze
Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate
Sunday, February 1: Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate at Joe's Pub Odd couple Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate recently released their debut album, Faya. Driscoll, a Syracuse-raised British resident, plays acoustic guitar and raps like a hyperactive Dave Matthews. Kouyate, meanwhile, was raised in Guinea; rocks the kora, a traditional West African 21-string harp; and previously played in the well-regarded family band Ba Cissoko. The duo's multiculti fusion experiment works more often than not, with Driscoll strumming rapidly behind Kouyate's waterfalling cascades of notes. The show is all-ages. — Richard Gehr
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