The Nine Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 2/20/15
Cakes Da Killa
Photo: Sam Evans-Butler
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.
Friday, 2/20 Cakes Da Killa Baby's All Right 11:55 p.m., $10–$12 Cakes Da Killa's debut mixtape, Easy Bake Oven, Vol. 1, and 2014's The Eulogy showcase Rashard Bradshaw's ability to flawlessly craft brilliant, memorable rhymes with visceral diction. If the Englewood, New Jersey–based MC somehow managed to slip past your radar, now is the time to catch up. Leaving fans turnt up on the heels of the revamped re-release of his Hunger Pangs EP, Cakes' lyricism is the perfect ratio of lethal wit laced with arrogance, raunch, and charm. Fierce cuts like "Truth Tella" and the house-ready thump of "Its Not Ovah" prove Bradshaw has a gift for cooking up addictive tracks that could easily double as mantras. As the crowned MC royal of Cunt Mafia, Bradshaw's onstage moniker is a force to be reckoned with. Get ready for his brand-new EP, #IMF, to become your new BFF. Also performing are UNiiQU3, Cunt Mafia, Rizzla, Tigga, LA TR!CK$, and a few special guests. — Dianca Potts
Ms. Lauryn Hill Highline Ballroom 8 p.m., $125–$200 Ms. Lauryn Hill's long reign as an almost mythical figure in hip-hop and r&b is twice as impressive given that she hasn't put out a proper release in over fifteen years; actually, might as well immediately double it again in light of her recent history of erratic live appearances. This is one of only a handful of acoustic sets featuring Hill and her guitar alongside a partial screening of Concerning Violence, the 2014 documentary about independence movements in Africa for which she served as the narrator. Both shows are sold out, but you can find tickets on the secondary market. — Vijith Assar
An Evening With the Mavericks Town Hall 8 p.m., $35–$65 Invigorated by the success of their 2012 comeback album and reunion tour, The Mavericks are back on the road in support of their soon-to-be-released record, MONO (due February 17). The new album finds the Miami country band short a founding member (bass player Robert Reynolds was ousted last year for a spiraling opiate addiction), but their sound is as sleek as ever. The album was recorded in just five days; that fact alone testifies to how strong they are live. The songs keep the classic Mavericks sheen of 1950s-style innocence seasoned with Cuban-American zest. Frontman Raul Malo's shiny tenor voice is forever that of a hopeless romantic, crooning tunes of love and love lost. It's quite possible these Grammy-winners have never written a bad song; even the sad ones leave the feel-good aftertaste of clean, satisfying songwriting. Enjoy a late-winter pick-me-up when the Southerners play Town Hall on February 20. — Linda Leseman
Mountain God The Acheron 8 p.m., $5–$8 The catalog of Brooklyn's Mountain God is thin; to date, they've released a single EP, Experimentation on the Unwilling, from 2013. It's doom metal, sure, but companionable doom metal: growled vocals, on-the-nose lyricism, sizzup'd riffs heavy enough to slay a herd of buffalo, atmospherically daring studio trickery, plus discernible melodies. One might easily hum and headbang along, if one wished to, or cue up "Fields of Life," say, whilst squiring Grandma to Sunday services, with no ill result. A full-length of similarly dense, pop sludge would be welcome. Dreadlords, Hercyn, and Imperial Triumphant also perform. The show is open to those 21 and older. Tickets are a measly $5 in advance and $8 at the door. — Raymond Cummings
Saturday, 2/21 Uri Caine Residency The Stone Friday–Sunday, 8 p.m., $15 Ever heard Uri Caine glide through "Lazy Hazy Crazy" with bassist John Hébert and drummer Ben Perowsky? You need to, and the chance arrives as the virtuoso pianist unpacks his multiplicity during this six-night run. With two discrete shows an evening (8 p.m. and 10 p.m.), the Stone stints allow artists to get kaleidoscopic and underscore variety. Caine, heralded for bringing an improviser's vision to the classical canon, is never lacking for novel ideas. From the chamber refinement of cello and violin to the "chamber refinement" of sax and drums, he's an expert at both following and flouting rules. His "Winterreise" duo with Theo Bleckmann should be as evocative as his "Dragnet" trio with cellist Eric Friedlander and drummer Clarence Penn — what kind of swing will they concoct? Options abound, and don't forget the solo night. When the stars align he's a one-man orchestra. — Jim Macnie
Helmet Saint Vitus Bar Friday & Saturday, 9 p.m., $20–$25 Last year marked the twentieth anniversary of Helmet's seminal post-metal masterpiece Betty, and to celebrate, lead singer and founding member Page Hamilton announced that the band (reformed ten years ago with a new lineup) would play the album front-to-back in shows across Europe to celebrate the milestone. American audiences need wait no longer for their turn to bask in the glory of the band's groundbreaking record; the U.S. leg of the tour kicks off on the East Coast, with two visits to the Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancey Street). Tickets for Saturday, February 21, sold out quickly but are still available elsewhere on the internet; they're also scheduled to play a sold-out show at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn on February 22. Not only will they hammer through Betty, a second set will span the rest of the band's catalog — no openers have even been announced, so be committed to Helmet alone when doors open at 8 p.m. Remaining tickets are $20 and Bowery Ballroom is 18+. — Lindsey Rhoades
Chris Robinson Brotherhood The Gramercy Theatre Friday & Saturday, 7 p.m., $25 The Black Crowes' is a perpetually on-again-off-again situation, and while the band promises its most recent split is more permanent than previous ones, it does include a few tracks off of breakup's greatest hits: money, greed, and shame. Until the inevitable group hug, frontman Chris Robinson is back with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, a jangly, meandering operation that posts up at the Gramercy for two shows this week. The band's most recent studio effort, Phosphorescent Harvest, includes a couple nods to Robinson's ability to weave a sharp melody into his giddy-ups, but the moments of clarity are driven into the ground by the group's lack of discipline (half the songs are closer to six minutes than four). Then again, clarity has never been a paramount virtue for Robinson or his devotees. — Chris Kornelis
Kiran Ahluwalia Roulette Brooklyn 8 p.m., $30 Kiran Ahluwalia, the classically trained, Indian-born vocalist, wrote most of the music on her sixth, and arguably least traditional, album, Sanata: Stillness. Ahluwalia adapts Berber, qawwali, Tuareg, and other international styles to songs that express joy, sorrow, romanticism, mysticism, and the spaces in between. The remarkable singer fronts an equally singular group that features the adventurous guitarist Rez Abbasi, Nitin Mitta (tabla), and Will Holshouser (accordion). Expect a gorgeous ghazal or two to round out the program. — Richard Gehr
Sunday, 2/22 Joe Lovato Nonet Village Vanguard Friday–Sunday, 8:30 p.m., $30 There's always been something ultra-sensual about Jim Lovano's little big band. With the leader's lusty horn out front, his reed brigade weaves together, often coming up with a wall of rich textures that complement his ideas and fortify his élan. I'm thinking of an early-Aughts spin through "After the Rain" that advanced the anguish of Trane's lament and unearthed the mastery that Lovano's tenor reveals so frequently these days. The iconic West Village cellar sounds terrific when nine individuals hit the stage to make a refined ruckus. Plan on visiting two nights. There are two shows a night, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Admission is $30 and there's a one-drink minimum. — Jim Macnie
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