The Best NYC Shows This Week: Run The Jewels, Migra Punk Fest, Thundercat
Thundercat plays Irving Plaza on Friday night
Two legends of psych rock from very different backgrounds play the city this week: Os Mutantes, the Brazilian band who helped kickstart the political Tropicália arts movement in the ‘60s, play with original and new members at Webster Hall, while the highly regarded songwriter and musician Robyn Hitchcock, whose band The Soft Boys pioneered psychedelic pop in the UK in the ‘70s, plays his iconic 1981 album Black Snake Diamond Role in full with the help of Jersey indie pop gods Yo La Tengo. If psych isn’t your vibe, you can check out the mind-expanding compositions of genius Kendrick Lamar collaborator Thundercat, an immigrant punk festival at Silent Barn, or rising queer Bronx rapper Quay Dash.
Run the Jewels, Gaslamp Killer, Spark Master Tape, Cuz
7 p.m., $30
On Christmas Day last year, rappers El-P and Killer Mike, known together as Run the Jewels, made their best attempt at rescuing 2016 from itself. The duo dropped their third album, Run the Jewels 3, which is as bombastic, aggressively fun and inventive as the first two. Catch them in the middle of a four-show run, where their energetic and endlessly entertaining live antics should be in full force.
8 p.m., $30
Brazilian psych rock group Os Mutantes were some of the leaders of ‘60s Tropicália, an arts movement with a political bent that flummoxed the repressive military dictatorship who ruled the country at the time. Their effusive records took inspiration from psych and prog rock of the period, including Pink Floyd, bent by the local flavors of traditional Brazilian folk. Their albums and sound went on to inspire artists like Talking Heads and Beck. Os Mutantes today is headed by founding member Sérgio Dias, who began the band with his brother, and a new singer, Esmeria Bulgari.
Robyn Hitchcock (playing Black Snake Diamond Role), Yo La Tengo
8 p.m., $25
The English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock started his career in the neo-psychedelic rock band The Soft Boys in 1976. But Hitchcock is most known for his long solo career since then, including his iconic album Black Snake Diamond Role, which he’ll play in full at this show. His catchy pop song structures, clever literary lyrics, and incredibly prolific output have earned him a small but rabid cult following, even among young fans who have discovered his work through musicians like Jeff Mangum and The Decemberists. He’ll be aided by Yo La Tengo, an indie rock cult favorite in their own right.
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $35
In 2001, Grandaddy, the Modesto, CA lo-fi psych pop band led by Jason Lytle was called “the next Radiohead.”Their albums, including their 2000 breakthrough The Sophtware Slump combined alt-country with analog synth fuzz and sad, insightful observations about life at the turn of the millenium (with a sound that drew frequent comparisons to The Flaming Lips), producing music that felt fragile and personal, not epic and prophetic, as some of their peers did. But the result was just as meaningful, and two and a half decades since their start, the music holds up.
Mutual Benefit, Crosslegged, Spookfish, Boosegumps
8 p.m., $10
Mutual Benefit is a project by the musician Jordan Lee that takes a pretty standard template for indie folk and imbues it with magic that makes each song feel like a gorgeous pastoral landscape you can enter by simply closing your eyes. Lee has long been involved with the Bushwick DIY space Silent Barn, and this show is a special opportunity to see him play this intimate communal space.
A Place to Bury Strangers, Oneida, Yvette
8 p.m., $15
Brooklyn noise rockers A Place to Bury Strangers’ shows are often punishingly loud, creating an immersive cacophony that drowns out your thoughts, drawing you into a world of feedback and distortion. They’ll headline a solid lineup that also features experimental scene veterans Oneida and up and comers Yvette, who both trade in a similarly high noise-to-signal ratio.
NYC Migra Punk Fest 2017
Huasipungo , AninoKo, Solarized, Kadena, Namatay Sa Ingay, Lakras, Material Support, Dog Breath, Olor A Muerte
7 p.m., $10
The NYC Migra Punk Fest is an opportunity to see immigrant-powered punk bands from all over the musical spectrum. This includes the California Filipino thrashcore band AninoKo, who just released a song called “Tangina Mo Trump” (literally “Trump, Your Mother Is A Whore” in Tagalog). Another highlight is Huasipungo, an OG Latinx punk band known for their shows at the DIY, all ages venue ABC No Rio in the ‘90s.
7 p.m., $22
The hyper-talented multi-instrumentalist Stephen Bruner, known as Thundercat, is one of modern pop music's most versatile artists; he was described as the "creative epicenter" of Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 opus To Pimp A Butterfly. His live shows are soulful and energetic. He has an easy presence that feels at home on stage, and the obvious enjoyment he gets from performing his mixed up jazz, soul, funk, and hip hop radiates back at the audience.
Earthen Sea, Bookworms
7 p.m., free
Earthen Sea is the project of San Francisco producer Jacob Long. This show celebrates the release of his most recent album, An Act of Love, a collection of cavernous ambient techno tracks that create a spacious and inviting atmosphere. Long is joined by the well-liked Brooklyn techno DJ Bookworms. The free show takes place at Commend, a multi-purpose space opened by the New York alternative electronic label RVNG Intl. to support the local arts community in Manhattan.
The Girls Room 3.0
Quay Dash, Abby, DJ Serena, Stud1nt, DJ BB, br0nz3_g0dd3ss, C4l0r3
9 p.m., $10
The Bronx rapper Quay Dash stepped onto the scene last year with the sexy and confident mixtape Transphobic, where she looked straight into her oppressors’ trembling faces and told them to fuck off. Her relaxed flow was matched by innovative production by artists like Celestial Trax and GHXST. This party celebrates the release of a new mixtape, with backup sets by Detroit techno DJ Abby and Stud1nt, a creative producer, DJ and member of the Brooklyn queer dance collective KUNQ.
Ecstatic Music Festival
Thums Up (Vijay Iyer, Himanshu Suri, Rafiq Bhatia, Kassa Overall, Arooj Aftab)
7:30 p.m., $25
The Grammy-nominated jazz composer and pianist Vijay Iyer joins rapper Himanshu Suri, better known as Heems (of Das Racist and Swet Shop Boys fame), guitarist Rafiq Bhatia of the brilliant band Son Lux, and rapper and percussionist Kassa Overall in a group they call Thums Up, named after a knockoff brand of Coca Cola sold in India. This is only the third time this eccentric group will play together, so it should be a fascinating experiment in cross-genre collaboration. Heems curated the night, bringing the “neo-Sufi” Pakistani artist Arooj Aftab on board as well to collaborate and play a set of her own songs.