This Fall's Can't-Miss Concerts in NYC

Sigur Rós return to three-piece formEXPAND
Sigur Rós return to three-piece form
Januz Miralles

Critic's Pick: In 2002, Icelandic post-rock outfit Sigur Rós released their third full-length album, ( ). It was a groundbreaking work, not only for its alternately hymnlike and desolate compositions, but because it introduced a global audience to a language (or, really, non-language) of the group's own invention: Vonlenska, or "Hopelandic." Sigur Rós had already garnered buzz with the release of 1999's Ágætis Byrjun thanks to frontman Jónsi Birgisson's ethereal falsetto and wild bowed-guitar technique, but ( ) represented a creative zenith. Most of the songs that would appear on the record were workshopped on tour in between the recording of the two landmark albums; now, in an attempt to recapture that magic, Sigur Rós are hitting the road as a three-piece and scaling back drastically from the full-on, euphoria-inducing live orchestration — complete with brass and string ensembles — that characterized their most recent outings. A statement released by the band promises lots of "surprises" and loads of new material, but there will be plenty of time for beloved fan favorites, too — "Svefn-g-englar" (from Ágætis Byrjun), "Hoppípolla" (from 2005's Takk...) — since they've opted to play two sets a night, beginning at 8:30 sharp, rather than book an opening act. In addition to trimming the lineup, they're playing smaller venues than on their last tour, in 2013, which saw them visit Madison Square Garden following the release of the much moodier Kveikur. This time around, they'll perform once at Radio City Music Hall (October 5, 1260 Sixth Avenue, radiocity.com), followed by two shows at Kings Theatre (October 6–7, Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, kingstheatre.com), giving fans the opportunity to listen as their next masterpiece takes shape.

Adele
Adele
Illustration by Jack Hughes

Adele September 19–26 Those feeling under the weather might have to skip Adele's epic six-night run at Madison Square Garden, now that the soulful singer has revealed that the entire crew of her massive world tour must undergo regular checkups to ensure they're not coming down with any illnesses that could sideline her. It's no wonder Adele is obsessed with keeping her pipes in top condition: Though her range is comparatively small, the emotional force and vocal athleticism she consistently delivers are key to the runaway success of megahits like "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You," from her Grammy Award– winning breakthrough, 21. That's to say nothing of the lead single from her latest LP, 25: "Hello," a song so universally popular it's been sung by everyone from the Muppets to the cast of SNL. Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, thegarden.com

Miserable September 28 Kristina Esfandiari cut her teeth as the vocalist for Bay Area shoegaze act Whirr, but by 2014 she was working concurrently on two other projects: fronting doom quartet King Woman and releasing solo work under the name Miserable. Fans can expect Created in the Image of Suffering, the debut full-length from King Woman, early next year, but Miserable's debut, Uncontrollable, has already arrived, featuring nine songs of seething despair that still manage to be achingly lovely. A serenity prayer of sorts, Uncontrollable sees Esfandiari struggling to find acceptance with the immutable, moaning huskily over reverby guitars and surreal electronic decay. Her stop at Alphaville isn't just the culmination of her current tour; it also coincides with her relocation to Brooklyn, making it a housewarming of sorts — one likely to be more celebratory than the dire vibe of her music might suggest. Alphaville, 140 Wilson Avenue, Brooklyn, alphavillebk.com

Kishi Bashi October 2 Classically trained on violin, Kaoru Ishibashi explored new ways to manipulate the instrument's traditional sounds via loops, layers, and distortion on his first two releases as Kishi Bashi. Those records, 151a and Lighght, won acclaim for their soaring, orchestral indie-pop, but when Ishibashi attempted to pen similar material for a follow-up, his old tricks failed him. The solution, of course, was reinvention, and for Kishi Bashi, that comes in the form of Sonderlust, whose bright, disco-infused tracks get modern updates like eight-bit chiptune interludes and a daring flute solo ("Say Yeah") and driving synths ("Can't Let Go, Juno"). With a widened, refreshed palette, this eclectic genius embarks on a grueling tour schedule that stops at Webster in early October. Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, websterhall.com

Upcoming Events

Nena October 4 As one of the most successful non-English-language tracks in U.S. Billboard chart history, "99 Luftballons" catapulted German new wave band Nena to international acclaim. A poignant, tongue-in-cheek warning against warmongering governments, the track was Nena's only hit outside of Germany, which contributed to the band's demise just four years after the single's 1983 release. But lead singer Gabriele Susanne Kerner continued to use the moniker — her childhood nickname — for solo releases, finally rekindling her chart success in 2002 by reworking her biggest Eighties hits for Nena feat. Nena. She's toured across Europe with seemingly boundless energy, releasing over a dozen albums and live recordings, but shockingly has never played New York City, even during the band's heyday. That will change with her tour for Oldschool, her seventeenth studio album, a jolting package of pop-rock anthems. Play­Station Theater, 1515 Broadway at West 44th Street, playstationtheater.com

The Selecter October 6 As the U.K. exploded with racial tension during the early Eighties, a multicultural musical movement known as 2 Tone sprang up, combining Jamaican ska, protest punk, and rude-boy style. Along with bands like the Specials, Madness, and the English Beat, one of 2 Tone's most successful acts was the Selecter — the name is a nod to Jamaican disc jockeys — thanks in large part to the ferocity of lead singer Pauline Black, who joined the band for their legendary 1980 debut, Too Much Pressure. With characteristic walking basslines, splashy brass, and playful organ, Too Much Pressure combines party music and politics with an urgency that still feels essential. On their current tour, the Selecter plan to play the LP live in its entirety as a reminder of the unity we have yet to achieve. Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street, thegramercytheatre.com

Caetano Veloso October 12–13 There's not much that can stop Caetano Veloso. Imprisoned and then exiled at the start of his career, he nevertheless pioneered a genre known as tropicália, a mesmerizing fusion of traditional Brazilian music with Sgt. Pepper psychedelia and avant-garde rock 'n' roll. Along with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes, and others, Veloso was demonized by the Brazilian dictatorship and its conservative followers for daring to allow outside influences, particularly from the United States, to corrupt the nation's heritage. But as his reputation grew internationally, Veloso was hailed as a revolutionary who never shied away from making bold sociopolitical statements. Now in his seventies, Veloso remains prolific, having released Abraçaço in 2013 and, earlier this year, an exultant album of duets with lifelong friend Gil. The pair played BAM recently, and Veloso returns to New York this fall for a set of solo shows at the Town Hall. The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, thetownhall.org

KING October 18 With little more than a three-song EP, KING established themselves as r&b's next big thing as soon as it dropped in 2011, earning early praise from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Questlove, and Prince. But the release of a proper debut was not as instantaneous as the initial acclaim: Though a full-length was initially slated for 2014, We Are KING didn't arrive until earlier this year. Luckily, the wait was worth it, giving twin sisters Paris and Amber Strother and their cohort Anita Bias ample time to smooth every wrinkle in their smoldering vocals. Backed by impressionistic instrumental flourishes, the trio exudes an uncommon warmth while embodying the epitome of chill. Lounging somewhere between neo-soul contemporaries like Erykah Badu and ultra-hip innovators like Blood Orange, KING are set to rule for a long time to come. Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, venue.irvingplaza.com

Silver Apples November 2 Unwittingly anticipating the birth of Kraut-rock and all but inventing avant-garde electronica, Simeon Coxe and Danny Taylor's wildly experimental East Village duo, Silver Apples, broke many a mold. Their self-titled 1968 debut and the next year's follow-up, Contact, hinged on the ruckus made by Coxe's hand-built oscillators but were paced by Taylor's trancelike drumming. Bootleg recordings that surfaced in the Nineties resurrected the duo's career from relative obscurity, prompting the release of lost LP The Garden and spawning several successful tours. After Taylor's death in 2005, Coxe kept Silver Apples alive as a solo project; on this year's Clinging to a Dream, the band's first release since 1998, he culls odd blips and loops from his improvised machines, forging an excellent reminder of Silver Apples' immeasurable influence on psychedelic experimentation. Market Hotel, 1140 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, markethotel.org

Kero Kero Bonito November 2 With their kitschy blend of J-pop and video game sound effects, London-based trio Kero Kero Bonito tap into the sugary proclivities of Tumblr culture, setting it all to an irresistible club beat. Producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled cast a neon backdrop for the cartoonish glee of vocalist Sarah Midori Perry (who raps in both English and Japanese and was discovered by Lobban and Bulled through an online bulletin board) on Intro Bonito, their addictive mixtape. After two sold-out CMJ appearances last fall, KKB return for their biggest New York show yet, less than two weeks after the release of their debut album, Bonito Generation, which compiles manic singles "Picture This," "Lipslap," and "Break," along with nine new tracks sure to initiate an immediate endorphin rush. Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, musichallofwilliamsburg.com

Tegan and Sara November 4 Twin sisters and LGBTQ activists Tegan and Sara Quin attracted a fiercely loyal following early on, one that's stuck with them through multiple phases: their humble beginnings as folksy Canadian sister act; their indie-pop transformation and 2004 breakout, So Jealous; and their near-demise as stardom-begotten infighting tore them apart during a grueling tour behind 2007's The Con. Two albums later, on Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara officially rebranded themselves as pop stars, enjoying the massive commercial success of single "Closer" and a supporting spot on Katy Perry's Prismatic North American Tour. With follow-up Love You to Death, the duo continue on a triumphant pop trajectory, at last addressing their once-strained relationship and fearlessly penning anthems for the queer-identified fans who've supported every iteration of their hard-won successes. Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, thegarden.com

Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello
Illustration by Jack Hughes

Elvis Costello November 6–7 He's been hailed as a purveyor of clever wordplay and a veritable pop encyclopedia, known for his ability to shift easily between new wave, soul, and country. Now Elvis Costello will headline a tour dedicated to 1982 opus Imperial Bedroom, his ambitiously arranged seventh studio album. Brimming with unique instrumental flourishes and adroit orchestration, the LP saw the English crooner hone an artful pop vision propelled by the range of genres he'd dabbled in on albums prior. This latest tour announcement comes as Costello continues his solo "Detour" outing with Larkin Poe, which rolls through New York on October 1 with a stop at the Town Hall. By contrast, the November Beacon dates will feature backing band the Imposters, with three longtime collaborators — bassist Davey Faragher, drummer Pete Thomas, and keyboardist Steve Nieve — who know just how to interpret the whimsy and wonderment that made Imperial Bedroom one of Costello's most resounding victories. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, beacontheatre.com

Thee Oh Sees November 11 and 13 John Dwyer's longest-running vehicle has been Thee Oh Sees, initially a solo project that solidified around the venerated lineup of Brigid Dawson, Petey Dammit, Mike Shoun, and Lars Finberg, now a revolving cast of Bay Area rockers churning out his raucous, psychobilly-inflected punk. In 2013, cross-Cali migration effectively put the band on hiatus, but Thee Oh Sees didn't stay dormant for long, releasing Drop and Mutilator Defeated at Last in 2014 and 2015, respectively. With this year's A Weird Exits, featuring double drummers Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon alongside bassist Tim Hellman, a new era feels imminent. Though there are plenty of spacey, psychedelic jam-out moments on the LP, Exits is one of Thee Oh Sees' most rock-oriented offerings in years, imbued with the reckless energy that makes the group a must-see live. November 11 at Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancey Street, boweryballroom.com), November 13 at Warsaw (261 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, warsawconcerts.com)

Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic FieldsEXPAND
Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields
Courtesy the artist; photographed by Stephin Merritt

The Magnetic Fields December 2–3 Aging gracefully can be tough, especially in an industry obsessed with youth. Leave it to Stephin Merritt, founder of baroque-pop legends the Magnetic Fields, to reach his fifties with idiosyncratic aplomb. Taking a cue from the conceptual impulse that made sprawling albums like 69 Love Songs so endearing and cohesive, Merritt will present the Magnetic Fields' newest record, 50 Song Memoir, over two nights at BAM, with unique setlists each evening. The LP, which won't be out until early 2017, features one autobiographical track for each year of Merritt's life, delivered with his characteristic wit and unmistakable baritone. The multi-instrumentalist has recruited seven musicians to interpret the work live, performing against a backdrop of custom set pieces that correspond to Merritt's fanciful narrative. Were he not a master of mirthful self-flagellation, Merritt might be branded a narcissist; instead, we'll raise a glass and toast another year for the patron saint of self-deprecating songwriting. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, bam.org


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