This Week's Best NYC Concerts Feature San Fermin's Beautiful Baroque Pop
San Fermin plays three nights at Bowery Ballroom this week.
photo courtesy of the Windish Agency
For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.
The sophomore record from NYC-based orchestral pop octet San Fermin, Jackrabbit, has plenty of bedfellows in a year that also featured intricate, dramatic records from those the band is most compared to: The Decemberists (LP What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, and EP Florasongs), Sufjan Stevens (Carrie & Lowell), and Matt Berninger of the National's side project El Vy (Return to The Moon). It can be hard to carve out a niche amongst artists such as these, established long before San Fermin's primary composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone released the ensemble's 2013 self-titled debut. But Ludwig-Leone's commitment to becoming part of that canon shows through in every detail of Jackrabbit, from its unsettling opener "The Woods" to the creepy innuendo of "Parasites," the tender confessions of "Emily," and of course, its kinetic title track. San Fermin play three shows at Bowery Ballroom beginning Thursday, with a slew of special guests stopping by throughout the weekend. Also this week, catch avant-garde percussionist Yoshimio's last two collaborative performances in the NYC area (one at Baby's All Right on Monday with drone trio Sea III, one with Chuck Bettis at The Stone on Tuesday), or rock out with Beach Slang at the Knitting Factory (if you can find tickets on the secondary market).
‘Sticks & Drones’
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $10-$12
If you’ve ever listened to the Flaming Lips’ 2002 LP Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and wondered who Yoshimi is, Monday is a great day to find out. As one of the longest-standing members in the infamous Japanese noise rock collective Boredoms, Yoshimio (also known as Yoshimi P-We) has a long history of pushing the envelope. She’s been playing a series of collaborative performances in NYC since last week, and arguably one of the most epic of these takes place at Baby’s All Right, where she’ll awaken Sea III, a project that also features Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda and composer/percussionist Susie Ibarra. Opening is IIII, comprised of Hisham Bharoocha, Ryan Sawyer, Brian Chase (of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Ben Vida, so the evening promises to be an onslaught of off-kilter art rock. Yoshimio finishes up her NYC run playing Chuck Bettis's residency at the Stone on Tuesday December 15. – Lindsey Rhoades
Cymbals Eat Guitars + Laura Stevenson
8 p.m., $19
Staten Island indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars just played a headlining set at the Bell House on Friday, but they’ll be back in Brooklyn for a holiday benefit show with Laura Stevenson at Shea Stadium this Monday. All proceeds go to survivors of domestic abuse via Safe Horizon, and there will be a toy and coat drive as well. Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren open with their new project, Antarctigo Vespucci, and Mikey Erg (of The Ergs, Worriers, etc.) will be on hand, too. Cymbals Eat Guitars recently released a new single, “Aerobed,” for Kevin Devine’s split series on Bad Timing Records, which has also featured Matthew Caws, Tigers Jaw, and Voice columnist Meredith Graves; Laura Stevenson put out a dazzling new record, Cocksure, at the end of October. – Lindsey Rhoades
A JOHNNYSWIM Christmas
9 p.m., $30
When folky Los Angeles duo Johnnyswim released A Johnnyswim Christmas EP in 2014, the world was gifted with an adorably infectious cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” that it didn’t know it needed. The effortless point and counterpoint of Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez’s vocals put a soaring yet elegant spin on holiday hits, so it’s easy to see why Bowery Ballroom would have them back for a second annual two-night holiday show December 14 and 15. The duo has risen to critical acclaim fairly quickly, only releasing their debut full length, Diamonds, in 2014. That record reached no. 29 on the Billboard 200 and the single, “Diamonds,” was recently covered by Team Adam on The Voice, but it has been a minute since they’ve put out new music. 2016 will see a special release titled JOHNNYSWIM: Live at Rockwood, recorded during their sold-out shows at Rockwood Music Hall last summer. – P. Claire Dodson
7:30 p.m., $5
Even though Bethlehem Steel's music retains some lo-fi elements and a punk ethos, the foundation built for a bigger, more accessible sound is a sturdy one. Becca Ryskalczyk’s booming vocals and grinding guitar chords complement the bulldozing effect of Jon Gernhart’s drumming, and those have become the hallmarks of the group’s powerful sound. They relocated from Western New York to Brooklyn four years ago, and say that their band’s name is a good way to stay connected to the industrial cities from which they hail. But their latest EP, Docking (released in November to follow up last year’s debut LP, Grow Up), also cements their place in Brooklyn’s DIY scene – it was recorded at Shea Stadium. They’ll be going on an extensive tour in the spring with new bassist Peter Katz plan to get back into the studio soon; ‘til then, you can catch them at under-the-radar Bushwick DIY spot Bohemian Grove on Tuesday with Gummy, Hank May, and Spookfish. – Daniel Kohn
8 p.m., $8-$10
Serving up some of the best surf rock in Brooklyn, Las Rosas headlines their last set of 2015 at Alphaville on Wednesday. Their latest single, “Boys,” came out in October, a psyched-out teaser for the upcoming LP they’re putting together, and we’re willing to bet they’ll share a few more new ones at their Alphaville show. North Carolina “boner pop” sextet The Nude Party open, along with locals Acid Dad and Navy Gangs. – Lindsey Rhoades
Las Rosas play Alphaville this week.
Winterreise Festival: David Adam Moore
7 p.m., $35
Records as we know them today consist of a handful of songs, sometimes exploring the same themes lyrically or, at least, sonically. In the 1800s there was no such thing, until Franz Schubert set 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller to music for voice and piano in his groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) Winterreise song cycle. Schubert was dying of syphilis at the time, so suffice to say that these “Winter Journey” compositions are somewhat dark, but they’ve gone on to inspire many reworks and iterations, not to mention the format of the LP. National Sawdust pays tribute to this enduring legacy with their Winterreise Festival, a series of a shows featuring different artists’ interpretations of the material; last week pianist Anne-Marie McDermott and Appalachian folk ensemble Founders gave it a go. On Wednesday, David Adam Moore’s projection mapping will transform the show space, acting as a metaphor for the emotional voyage of the poet, while Earl Buys plays piano. The journey continues Thursday at 7 p.m. with a Theo Bleckmann and Uri Caine interpretation featuring voice, toys, piano and electronica, along with new lyrics and harmonies in French, German, Yiddish, and English. There’s a free post-show talk with Bleckmann and Pitchfork’s Brandon Stosuy, which examines the legacy of Winterreise against the albums format in the current century. – Lindsey Rhoades
8 p.m., $20
The lush baroque pop of San Fermin couldn’t be contained by one human. That’s why Brooklyn-based composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone invited seven other musicians, including vocalists Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye, to join in, releasing their ambitious self-titled debut in 2013, buoyed by eccentric lead single “Sonsick.” This year, they’ve followed that up with another stirring, minutely-detailed collection called Jackrabbit, which came out in January. They’ll play three shows at Bowery Ballroom beginning December 17 with Sam Amidon opening, but each night of sees an increase of special guests, culminating in a tricked-out bill on Saturday that features Son Little, Oh Land, Young Jean Lee, White Hinterland, and members of Moon Hooch, Cuddle Magic, Bleachers and Pavo Pavo. – Lindsey Rhoades
TEEN’s Tribute to Joni Mitchell
10 p.m., $5-$10 suggested donation
There are plenty of reasons people don’t visit family during the holidays, and for all those temporary “orphans” out there who might want to bask in a little seasonal melancholy, Joni Mitchell’s “River” on repeat is pretty much the perfect soundtrack. Maybe that’s the idea behind the Manhattan Inn’s Joni Mitchell tribute, which closes out their December calendar. The line-up is curated by TEEN (who will also perform), and features Jen Goma of A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Damon McMahon of Amen Dunes, Joan Wasser of Joan as Police Woman, Aerial East, and more. – Lindsey Rhoades
The Symptoms (Laurie Anderson, Kid Millions & Tony Diodore)
Secret Project Robot
8 p.m., $15
It’s to Laurie Anderson’s credit as an artist that she’s just as comfortable performing in underground Bushwick art spaces as she is filling a cavernous space like Park Avenue Armory with a larger-than-life art installation calling attention to the atrocities of Guantanamo Bay. On Thursday, she’ll reprise her role in an experimental strings-and-percussion trio called the Symptoms with Oneida drummer Jon Colpitts (otherwise known as Kid Millions) and violinist/guitarist Tony Diodore. Last year they played a set of unsettling, moody pieces at Le Poisson Rouge; this year they’ll do so once again at Secret Project Robot. It’s a rare opportunity to see these esteemed musicians create something otherworldly together in such an intimate setting. – Lindsey Rhoades
Beach Slang + Tim Kasher
The Knitting Factory
8 p.m., $15-$17
After stopping over in Amityville on Tuesday night, Cursive frontman Tim Kasher and Philly rockers Beach Slang co-headline a sold-out show at the Knitting Factory on Wednesday with Field Mouse in tow. Beach Slang is touring in support of their debut full length, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, but finding tourmate Kasher didn't seem to be too complicated an endeavor — they opened for Cursive on the Ugly Organ tour earlier this year. Rolling Stone recently compared Beach Slang to the Replacements, and a quick listen to lead single "Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas" definitely recalls the soaring riffs and vocal intensity "Bastard of Young." But even if these songs are a little derivative, they're no less anthemic, and they'll be sure to get Brooklyn crowds moshing; try scoring tickets on secondary markets. – Lindsey Rhoades
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