Spring Arts Guide Picks: Music


DJ Spinn & DJ Rashad, Afrika Bambaataa

May 23

The Red Bull Music Academy, a series of concerts, club nights, talks, and films, runs from April 28 to May 31 all over town, and it means business. (The show on May 2 at the Knockdown Center in Queens—featuring Oren Ambarchi, Peter Rehberg, and Kim Gordon’s new duo with Bill Nace—looks serious.) But New York gets the heavy new drone business on the regular. The newest Chicago footwork stylings are more of a treat—and at Santos Party House on May 23, it’ll come to us courtesy of DJ Rashad, whose TEKLIFE: Welcome to the Chi, Vol. 1 was a late-2012 crossover hit for noise-freaks and avant-beat-fetishists, and his longtime cohort DJ Spinn. Plus, you know, Afrika Bambaataa and much more. Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette Street,

Chelsea Light Moving

April 5

Was it as classic as any Sonic Youth album you might care to pick? Nah. But the recent debut from Thurston Moore’s new band is more than good enough for hiatus work, and this show will catch them on the tail end of their first tour in support of the self-titled full-length, increasing the odds of a rigorously anarchic performance. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street,

Marnie Stern

April 11

Guitar-based rock of any stripe you might care to name suffered during the three-year absence of Marnie Stern. But now she’s back (on Kill Rock Stars), with The Chronicles of Marnia (heh). While less unremittingly manic than her albums with drummer Zach Hill, this one, with percussion duties overseen by Kid Millions, has energy aplenty (and also some newfound emotional range). Oh yes, and she’s still a fingertapper nonpareil. The chance to watch her pull off live versions of her multi-tracked studio riffs provides additional incentive. Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn,

La Périchole

April 21–27

After a season of turmoil (and escape from Lincoln Center in search of cheaper digs), New York’s other opera company found solid footing this winter, with a risqué staging of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face. Now City Opera plays its familiar seasonal ace, with an offering from forward-thinking director Christopher Alden, who makes opera as sharp as cutting-edge theater. This time, he’s presenting an Offenbach operetta about sex and politics in Peru. With the Met Opera seeming so artistically adrift—even in their own Adès opera last fall—the lighter-footprint team actually has a chance to steal the season, even with its short schedule. New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street,

Spring for Music

May 6–11

For lack of additional foundation support, this will be the penultimate iteration of a worthy Carnegie Hall festival—one that gives regional ensembles the chance to play risky repertoires on a big stage. But it’s going to remain a great value right up until the end. This year, JoAnn Falletta leads the Buffalo Philharmonic through a Giya Kancheli theater piece and a Reinhold Glière symphony (on May 8), while the Detroit Symphony presents two nights, one a complete cycle of Charles Ives symphonies on May 10. Tickets are a bargain at $25. Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue,

Colin Stetson

May 8

The extended-technique saxophone powerhouse seduced indie audiences back in 2011 with the second volume of his New History Warfare series. The third volume is set to make critical heads swoon again, especially given the opening-track appearance by Justin Vernon. This date at (Le) Poisson Rouge is bound to focus more on Stetson and his circular-breathing heroics, though. Young jazz-guitar shredder Rafiq Bhatia is set to open, making this show even more of an under-the-radar pick than the Pitchfork set realizes. (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street,


May 12

As long as so much indie-rock seems to have lost the plot, we’ll need a once-per-presidential-term appearance by the veteran grunge act. Still on Sub Pop (after that brief ’90s major-label freakout), the band’s new album, Vanishing Point, is, thank god, no great leap forward in sound. So leave your next “remember the ’90s” Tumblr post in the queue and head on down to the show. Every good boy (and girl) deserves the cathartic garage-sludge that these good-time cynics actually invented. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street,