The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Week, 9/1 - 9/5
For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.
'Fool's Gold Day Off' 50 Kent 2:00 p.m., $15-$30 If you can't make it out of town for Labor Day, local hip-hop/electronic label Fool's Gold can always be counted on to make sure you have a wicked end to your three-day weekend. This year, its Day Off party has expanded beyond BK, and is now hosting a five-city, ticketed mini tour of sorts which hits Toronto, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Miami. As usual, the lineup is heavy and features Danny Brown, French Montana, AraabMuzik, Brenmar, and Fool's Gold co-founder Nick Catchdubs. The event promises special guests, and its insane history of headliners could be a perfect starting list of contenders, like A$AP Rocky or Juicy J, who could make the afternoon party an even wilder experience. Fool's Gold has become an important purveyor of the newest game changers, so prepare to spend your day off working hard to keep up. -- By Brittany Spanos
Eric Harland Highline Ballroom 8:00 p.m., $20-$50 At 36, prolific drummer Eric Harland has appeared as a sideman on nearly 200 recordings, bridging the rhythmic gap between Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, John Mayer, and Mariah Carey. He finally released Vipassana, his sophomore album as a leader. The eponymous style of meditation that lifts the veil of perception is apropos for an artist so attuned to the hidden pulse of all things, and he moves beyond category with Voyager, his band of genre-bending yogis he met along way. Guitarist Julian Lage, saxophonist Walter Smith III, and bassist Mark Kelley (of the Roots) make this Ayurvedic jazz hip-hop for the soul. -- By Aidan Levy
John Zorn Village Vanguard Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m., $25-$30 John Zorn was beaming at the Newport Jazz Festival in August. The far-flung ensembles of his Masada family were together for a two and a half hour mix 'n' match confab that stretched from chamber music gentility to red-zone dissonance that he proudly declared "sick" with one of his Zornian grins. The throughline was obvious all day: Each of the participating ensembles was radically tight, and the performances couldn't have been more eloquent. It's wise to expect something similar at the Village Vanguard this week, when many of the same participants -- including Jamie Saft's piano trio and Cyro Baptista's Banquet of the Spirits -- leap into Zorn's Book Of Angels pieces, a collection of discrete works that flies under the flag of "mixing Ornette Coleman and Jewish scales." The week's ultimate mitzvah? The Saturday-night arrival of the maestro's original Masada quartet, with Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen and Joey Baron. They will destroy the place with beauty. -- By Jim Macnie
The Whigs Rough Trade NYC 9:00 p.m., $15 With a gift for infectious melodies and solid rock'n'roll sensibility, it's hard not to like The Whigs, at least a little bit--which probably explains their frequent appearances on late night TV. Formed in Athens, Georgia in the early aughts, the trio has five albums of palatable, loudly-produced garage rock. It doesn't hurt that the lead vocalist-guitarist Parker Gisbert has a voice like Paul Rudd's stubble--there's enough roughness to register as manly--or in this case "rockly," but it's mostly manicured to good effect. -- By Sarah Madges
Bleachers Webster Hall 8:00 p.m., $26 What happens after your band releases a string of infectious and inescapable singles? Why, you attempt world domination with another band! Jack Antonoff, the multi-instrumentalist of Fun. and main man of Lena Dunham's life, has headed up a side project called Bleachers, a band whose biggest competition in the indie pop department is every other project of Antonoff's. The world was introduced to Bleachers through "I Wanna Get Better," the absurdly catchy first single off of their July debut album Strange Desire. With its '80s new wave-life sound, Bleachers has given us a breezy soundtrack to the summer in the same way Fun.'s Some Nights was in 2012 (and 2013). Let's see which of Antonoff's projects will keep us smiling and be stuck in our heads come 2015. -- By Brittany SpanosThursday, 9/4:
Ches Smith Trio Greenwich House Music School 8:00 p.m., $15 A percussionist who creates music with the architectural sense of a designer, Smith is usually in the process of fulfilling on elaborate notions. History implies that this trio with violinist Mat Maneri and keyboardist Craig Taborn would be expert at aggressive textural fantasias with more than a smidge of drama - each participant knows exactly how to establish and explode any and all provocative gambits. -- By Jim Macnie
Michael Blake Group Smalls Jazz Club 9:30 p.m., $20 Warmth and invention spills from the saxophonist's horn on a regular basis. That makes him part of a lineage that begins with tenor maestro Lester Young, to whom Blake's new Tiddy Boom is dedicated. It's all about mucho lyricism, oodles of frolic, and the kind of swing you don't mistake for a second. The band, which features Ben Allison and Frank Kimbrough, knows about the whomp that understatement can provide. All hail Pres! -- By Jim Macnie
DJ Shadow Irving Plaza 8:00 p.m., $35 DJ, producer, and master record collector DJ Shadow is an instrumental hip hop legend. The Bay Area native released his first full length album in the mid-nineties and continued to thrive by producing beats and crafting sample based music. This summer, nearly two decades since his first release, DJ Shadow launched his new record label, Liquid Amber, with The Liquid Amber EP available for streaming. He has mentioned that his 2014 tour will be much different from his previous performances and showcase his adaptation to the contemporary DJ set. Not one for following the trends of DJs or electronic based music, DJ Shadow is known and respected for his commitment to his style. His future bass sound once got him booted from the decks of a fancy Miami nightclub, so arrive ready to hear and trust his selections. -- By Lina Abascal
Usher Rockefeller Center 6:00 a.m., free In anticipation of the R&B king's forthcoming studio album, Usher recently released two new singles: "She Came to Give It to You," featuring Nicki Minaj, which the pair performed at the MTV VMAs while engaging in a bit of bass- and ass-slapping, as well as the sultry, bump-and-grind, sorry-I-did-you-wrong "Believe Me." Expect new tunes as Usher Raymond IV returns for a morning visit to NBC's Today. It's never too early for a little swooning and panty-dropping, right? -- By Jill Menze
Social Distortion The Paramount 8:00 p.m., $35-$75 Mike Ness might just be the most punk rock out of all his peers. As the only remaining original member of punk rockers and rockabilly heros Social Distortion, Ness has clocked more than three decades as frontman of the group, refusing to back down after years of loss, abuse, law troubles and too many lineup changes to count. But fuck the man; he's still going. And classics like "Story of My Life," "Ball and Chain" and "Reach for the Sky" will still kick ass for generations to come. -- By Jill Menze
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