The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 1/17/14


For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

Friday, 1/17:

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires
Bowery Ballroom
9:00 p.m., $25
This soul singer with a heart of gold emerged from a life of odd jobs and a vagabond lifestyle when Daptone records discovered him moonlighting as James Brown under the name “Black Velvet.” From there, the label recorded several of his songs, putting out some of them on vinyl and releasing his debut, No Time For Dreaming, in 2011. A documentary about the singer called Soul of America was debuted at SXSW in 2012 and helped spark interest in Bradley, and his sophomore album, Victim of Love, came out in 2013 to a host of critical acclaim. At 55, Bradley continues to tour the nation performing his authentic mixture of blues, funk, and soul. — By Caitlin White

Saturday, 1/18:

Jessy Lanza + The-Drum
The Mercury Lounge
10:30 p.m., $10/$12
After providing backing vocals for Ontario Junior Boys’ 2011 morose opus It’s All True, Canadian singer Jessy Lanza enlisted Jeremy Greenspan for her debut earlier this year, the semi-bombastic, dreamy and fantastic Pull My Hair Back. Though the Junior Boys frontman lingers in the record’s bedroom-ready ambience, Lanza’s r&b sensibilities and playful touches — a breathy number called “Kathy Lee,” looping “fuck that” as a lyrical prop, the intrinsic hair flip of “As If” — make this effort all her own. — By Harley Oliver Brown

‘Benefit for Letha Rodman Melchior’ w/ the Rogers Sisters + Endless Boogie + Crystal Stilts + Love as Laughter + Nurse and Soldier
Secret Project Robot
5:00 p.m., $10
Intrepid experimentalist and artist, blogger and pillar of strength staring down a life-threatening illness, Letha Rodman Melchior is a warrior in every niche. In the ’90s, she served as slash ‘n’ burn guitar queen in NYC’s influential quiet/loud math-rockers, Ruby Falls and Rodman Melchior forged a kinship with fellow ax-lady Jennifer Rogers and her drummer/sis Laura. Ultimately, Ruby Falls disbanded and the Rogers Sisters formed from the ashes, spreading tasty dance-punk grime before calling it quits themselves in 2006. Now, the Rogers Sisters have reunited and brought with them a jaw-dropping lineup for this benefit to help Rodman Melchior combat her mounting medical expenses. Rodman Melchior won’t be there to play the stunning dreamscapes from her revelatory 2013 LP Handbook for Mortals, but her indomitable spirit will undoubtedly engulf Secret Project Robot this evening. — By Brad Cohan

Phillip Johnston & Art Spiegelman’s ‘WORDLESS!’
Brooklyn Academy of Music
7:30 p.m., $30
The highbrow loony tunes and merry melodies intrinsic to the Microscopic Septet, in which Johnston plays saxophone and composes, should take on a more self-reflexive hue during this multimedia collaboration with Art Spiegelman. The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist (Maus) and comics scholar will speak and show slides from the medium’s earliest days and present a new work titled “Shaping Thought!,” with Johnston’s sextet accompanying. — By Richard Gehr

Saturday, 1/18:

Homeboy Sandman + YC the Cynic + I Am Many + Open Mike Eagle + Tone Tank
The Gramercy Theatre
8:00 p.m., $15
The joy Homeboy Sandman brings to his work is infectious. Furiously rhymed verse are his finger paints, the ludicrously playful beats chosen canvases used to portray undie-hip-hop as simultaneously thoughtful and felicitous. This approach places him in the same rappity-rap lane as Eminem sans the gross misogyny, Asher Roth sans the weed fiending, and the perennially underrated Black Milk. Long may he reign, puzzling, dazzling, and schooling with the raw dexterity of a street pugilist. — By Raymond Cummings

Joe’s Pub
9:30 p.m., $14
A mashup that nearly transcends its source material, guitarist Jon Madof’s Tzadik debut combined Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s ecstatic Jewish music with Fela Kuti’s swaggering afrobeat sound, adding up to one of last year’s happier discoveries. Madof’s 13-piece steamroller adds a spiritual component missing from Fela’s audio activism, while beefing up Carlebach’s rabbinical melodies with heavy horns and drums. — By Richard Gehr

‘Brite Nites’ w/ Moguai
Webster Hall
10:00 p.m., $20
In his debut Webster Hall appearance, the German DJ and producer brings his notoriously debauched live mix to the Brite Nites series. Hailing from Recklinghausen, where he spearheads the EDM scene in Germany’s Rhine-Ruhr region, Moguai channels the jagged texture of coal mines and heavy industry into a nightlife aesthetic as influenced by Kraftwerk as deadmau5. He has released albums on the latter’s mau5trap label, but his current tour celebrates the relaunching of his own moniker, Punx. Having begun his career in the mid-’90s, his recent single, “Can’t Stop,” attests to the fact that this veteran DJ goes all night. — By Aidan Levy

Sunday, 1/19:

Bowie-Elvis Birthday Bash
Le Poisson Rouge
9:00 p.m., $25
Elvis Presley and David Bowie share many things: an affection for pompadours, hip-shaking dance moves, stints on the big screen, and even the same birthday (January 8, 1935 and 1947, respectively). What do all these coincidences mean for you? A big tribute show, of course. Presented by Oh! You Pretty Things, the third annual Bowie-Elvis Birthday Bash features performances by Tyburn Saints, Sons and Heirs, This Ambitious Orchestra, and Michael T and the Vanities. Get into the theme (“Ziggy Viva Las Vegas”) and wear a spacesuit with your blue suede shoes. — By Angela Ashman

Talib Kweli
9:00 p.m., $22
Talib Kweli returns to form on December’s internet-only Gravitas, his second full-length of 2013. Whereas May’s Prisoner of Conscious featured his standard array of hyper-literate lyrics, its embrace of mainstream production styles meant that the majority of its tracks were ill-suited to Talib’s deft, jazzy flow. This disparity between beats and rhymes has been reduced somewhat on Gravitas, with its more organic, gritty vibe providing sufficient grounding for Talib’s sometimes highfalutin, but always well-intentioned wordplay. Songs like “State of Grace,” and Prisoner‘s “Favela Love” will certainly stand nicely next to solo classics like “The Blast” and “Get By,” showing how much Kweli’s lyrical skills have remained consistent during his nearly two decades in the game. — By Winston Groman

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