The Eight Best Concerts in New York This Week, 4/13/15
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.
Monday, 4/13 Jeff Beck The Capitol Theatre 8 p.m., $65–$250 Jeff Beck controls a Fender Stratocaster unlike any other hand found among the council of guitar gods. Not just in the way he plays sans pick — Beck's style is so instantly recognizable through his pinching harmonics and expert control that the Englishman has the ability to make listeners forget they're even hearing a guitar. Since debuting on the scene with the Yardbirds in 1966, then appearing with countless icons including Rod Stewart, ZZ Top, and Stevie Wonder (a collaboration that birthed "Superstitious"), Beck has proven himself a colossal voice without ever opening his mouth. — Silas Valentino
MATA Festival 2015 The Kitchen 8 p.m., $15–$20 Owing to the perennial popularity of the classical canon, it may seem surprising that the seventeenth annual MATA Festival received applications from nearly a thousand contemporary composers under 40 across the world. They work less with genre than with form, blurring the line between sound and music and drawing from sources as disparate as Billy Joel (David Broome's Ominousty), the mourning of the Gorgons (Tomi Räisänen's Stheno), and the beginning of the universe (Carlos Guittiérez Quiroga's Jintili). Many deconstruct rigid binaries: human and posthuman, improvised and inevitable, nature and technology. In this sonic world, table lamps on transducers seem to sing, a prepared piano choreographs a dancer's performance, and drums magically beat themselves. As the candlestick once said, "Be our guest." MATA extends through April 18. — Aidan Levy
Sunflower Bean Baby's All Right 7:30, $10–$12 Picture the scene: After more than a year of writing songs, a year in which you played more than 50 shows in your hometown, a year when you were named "The #1 Hardest Working NYC Band" — after all that, your debut EP finally hits the shelves. The trio Sunflower Bean spent 2014 relentlessly cycling through the stages of New York clubs and beyond. Bassist and co-vocalist Julia Cumming estimates they played 60 shows in New York last year. That frenetic pace gave the band a solid perspective on the state of contemporary New York rock venues, and they have advice for fellow artists making the rounds. The best club, all around? They all agree it's Baby's All Right. "It's the curation there," says guitarist/co-vocalist Nick Kivlen. "It's a beautiful building, it's cheap to get in — you're paying DIY prices, but the sound quality is amazing, and it's the biggest stage you can play while still playing a small venue. Beautiful lighting, good monitors." — Corey Beasley
Tuesday, 4/14 Talib Kweli Highline Ballroom 8 p.m., $27–$50 Talib Kweli is nothing if not prolific. Six months after releasing Prisoner of Conscious, he returned with Gravitas, which, as the name would imply, had some lyrical ballast. The socially conscious rapper and co-founder of Black Star has a Brooklyn pedigree and a poetic sensibility that mixes rhythmic complexity and virtuosic flow with a background in political activism, dropping knowledge wrapped in a combustible beat. In a recent study that compared Shakespeare's vocabulary with hip-hop's leading lights, Kweli barely fell short of the once-controversial Bard. The comparison might be hyperbolic, but it's enough to parlay his street cred into some Brooklyn lit cred. Opening for Kweli is Immortal Technique. — Aidan Levy
Wednesday, 4/15 The Mowgli's Music Hall of Williamsburg 8 p.m., $17–$20 A quick listen to this peppy Southern California band might misplace them among alternative rock bands circa 1997, when TRL seemed to have a strict no-worrying policy. Maybe these Jungle Book–loving rockers didn't get the memo about the pity party that followed, but it's refreshing to hear crackling pop with a love-conquers-all aesthetic and a propulsive beat. Touring in support of their new album, The Kids in Love, The Mowgli's continue their upbeat exploration where rock meets pop and decides to dance. — Aidan Levy
Grooms The Wick 8 p.m., $12–$15 Brooklyn noise-pop stylists Grooms abide by the staunchest of DIY-or-die ethos (the band were regulars at defunct Williamsburg music joint Death by Audio, made their studio at the space, and played its final show back in November) and bring an aesthetic radiating with elegant melodicism with a grungy touch. On their fourth album, entitled Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair, these indie rockers — led by feathery-voiced guitarist/singer Travis Johnson — weave entrancing electro-pop magic with hooks aplenty. Plus Grooms lug some serious star power: drummer/actor/comedian Steve Levine has appeared on Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. This exceptional lineup also includes Detroit's wiry postpunkers Protomartyr and Pittsburgh smartass rockers Thegotobeds, newly signed to Sub Pop. — Brad Cohan
Liturgy Saint Vitus 8 p.m., $15 After futzing around with a brief twin-guitar/drum-machine iteration, Liturgy heartthrob/mastermind Hunter Hunt-Hendrix came to his senses, reconvening the quartet responsible for the outsider black-metal-defining double dose of 2009's Renihilation and 2011's Aesthetica. Blast-beating sensei Greg Fox (also leader of local psych outfit Guardian Alien), along with bassist Tyler Dusenbury, returned to Liturgy's fold, thus completing the "classic lineup" with guitarist Bernard Gann and Hunt-Hendrix, the polarizing figure and author behind the infamous "Transcendental Black Metal" manifesto. The unlikely reunion (Fox left under acrimonious circumstances) has spawned yet another offering bound to earn the ire of black-metal purists. The Ark Work is the anti–black metal, a pummeling sprawl of near-religious, orchestral majesty seen through a shoegaze-inspired lens. Gone are Hunt-Hendrix's bloodcurdling screams, replaced by a meditative, melodic whine as un-metal instrumentation (horns, glockenspiel, strings, and chimes) converge with Liturgy's trademark fret-hopping sonic dissonance and bulldozer drums guaranteed to blow minds. Rounding out this stellar bill is experi-metal collective Mivos Quartet and local avant-metalists Psalm Zero. — Brad Cohan
Thursday, 4/16 Hippo Campus Bowery Ballroom 8 p.m., $17–$20 Located among the chaotic wiring that is the human brain is a tiny section called the hippocampus that's involved in controlling and storing memories — in essence, this seahorse-shaped component is what brings you back to Grandma's house whenever you smell those types of tulips. Hailing from Minneapolis are the four-piece Hippo Campus, whose jangling take on pop and Afro rhythm recalls the prep and vibe of Vampire Weekend with the shared influence of Paul Simon's Graceland. After a career-boosting appearance on Conan last week and as the season melts with the sun, you can see Hippo Campus appearing through the slush. — Silas Valentino
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