The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 2/28/14


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

Friday, 2/28:

Cecile McLorin Salvant
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Friday & Saturday, 8:00 p.m., $40-$125
The Grammy-nominated 24-year-old breakout singer opens for the multi-generational Spring Quartet all-star group after a banner year following the Mack Avenue release of WomanChild, a bracing debut that blends the plaintive blues of Bessie Smith with the brio of Abbey Lincoln and Salvant’s own Haitian flair. Wynton Marsalis has embraced the 2010 Monk Competition winner as a leading jazz vocalist, citing her respect for tradition tempered by a brash timbre and range. Salvant plumbs the depths of the jazz canon, exploring the French chanson and performing lesser-known standards, including Ella Fitzgerald’s “There’s a Lull in My Life” and Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz.” — By Aidan Levy

Howler + Designer
Baby’s All Right
7:00 p.m., $10
The little Minneapolis band that could, Howler was picked up by U.K. indie stronghold Rough Trade after their debut EP found its way into the hands of label founder Geoff Travis, who famously had a hand in breaking the Smiths and the Strokes. Howler’s jangly garage-pop fit right in his wheelhouse, and three years after that chance encounter the foursome is all grown up and gearing up to release their sophomore LP of sophisticated skuzz, World of Joy, later this March. — By Harley Oliver Brown

White Denim + The Districts
Webster Hall
7:00 p.m., $20
This lightning-hot Austin quartet combines crunch, virtuosity, and X-factor in equal parts. One of the more exciting live bands to come down the pike in recent years, Denim seems to have embraced Wilco’s successful post-jamband strategy of dishing out copious classic rock with an avant-garde tinge. Their most recent album tips its fedora to Steely Dan, Dukes of Stratosphear, and Paul McCartney. With two guitar pyrotechnicians on hand, they spark, smolder, and explode onstage. — By Richard Gehr

Casey Donahew Band + Reckless Kelly + Kevin Fowler
Terminal 5
8:00 p.m., $20-$25
Texas country artists are notoriously parochial, fiercely repping their home state’s slightly rougher variation on the Nashville sound. But, this weekend, some of the best come to New York to celebrate their home state’s “Independence Day” with a few Yankee fans and Southern transplants. 
Tonight, three of the state’s biggest acts — Casey Donahew Band, Reckless Kelly, and Kevin Fowler — arrive to play the hits (“Small Town Love,” “Every Step of the Way,” “How Country Are Ya?,” respectively) that you’d otherwise have to purchase a plane ticket to hear. Splurge for a two-day pass and you can return tomorrow for Randy Rogers, best known these days for an early duet with fellow Texan Kacey Musgraves, and Wade Bowen, an artist whose last two hits, “Saturday Night” and “Songs About Trucks,” were both more contemplative than their titles suggest. — By Nick Murray

‘The Johnny Cash 82nd Birthday Bash’ w/ Alex Battles and the Whiskey Rebellion
The Bell House
Friday & Saturday, 9:00 p.m., $15/$20
Consider this “Ring of Fire” candles on a birthday cake. Johnny Cash, the most recognizable baritone out of Arkansas and somberest guy to ever darken country music’s doorway, would have been 82 this year. For as many refurbished railroad songs he chugged along with, Cash was rock ‘n’ roll through and through, his politically minded prison performances and funereal dress signifiers of a smoldering rebellion. Come celebrate the undisputed forefather of alt-country along with the rest of Brooklyn at the Johnny Cash 82nd Birthday Bash, the Bell House’s weekend-long hoedown that has packed the venue every year since the inaugural party in 2005. Alex Battles & The Whisky Rebellion provide the covers all night, supplemented by film clips from archivist Clinton McClung. Have a rollicking good time and a slice of cake for the Cash man, or better yet, a glass of bourbon. Go with the bourbon. — By Heather Baysa

Saturday, 3/1:

Freestyle Forever
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts
8:00 p.m., $55-$100
Believe it or not, a freestyle revival may be in the works: Where Dmitri From Paris recently opened a Boiler Room set with a freestyle remix of his own “A Reason for Living,” house legend Todd Terry’s latest LP was a collection of new freestyle tunes he crafted for singers with names as freestyle-ready as “Chioma” and “Scarlett Santana.” Regardless of the genre’s future prospects, Lehman College celebrates its glorious past at the eighth annual Freestyle Forever party. This year’s incarnation features openers such as Johnny O, best known for the hit “Fantasy Girl” and his influence on the Pet Shop Boys, and TKA, freestyle’s best known boy band. The headlining performances, meanwhile, come from Stevie B, the Miami artist who scored hits with “Dreaming of Love” and “Party Your Body,” and the legendary Lisa Lisa, whose “Take Me Home” remains a staple of throwback r&b mixes. — By Nick Murray

8:00 p.m., $15
Under the belief that “a reunion is a great way to have a midlife crisis,” ’90s funk group Chucklehead is staging their own. After beginning the reunion in their home base of Boston last summer 17 years after their “final” show, the band is returning to NYC for another round. During their career, Chucklehead left an eclectic imprint on the ’90s with their three albums and opening slots for artists like KRS-One, The Fugees, and even Bob Dylan. This weekend, they’ll be back in the city to give everyone a Big Wet Kiss. — By Brittany Spanos

Miguel Zenón Quartet
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
8:00 p.m., $20-$30
Since 2008, the Puerto Rican saxophonist/composer has used his MacArthur fellowship to explore his heritage, combining plena and jíbara song forms with emotionally compelling, virtuosically delivered straight-ahead jazz. His longtime quartet with Henry Cole (drums), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Luis Perdomo (piano) takes this research to a place where heads, hearts, and hands connect as one, and it can be rapturous. — By Richard Gehr

Sunday, 3/2:

Agnes Obel + Gem Club
Bowery Ballroom
9:00 p.m., $20/$25
This Danish singer/songwriter picked up five Danish Music awards for her 2010 debut album Philharmonics — and for good measure the record went quintuple platinum. So Agnes Obel’s follow-up, Aventine, released at the end of last year, came with big expectations. Luckily, the record lived up to them, topping the charts in Denmark and earning a fair amount of praise internationally. Now she’s touring her classical, austere songs throughout the U.S., and they’re guaranteed to appeal to all those who are moved by melancholy ballads sung with pristine clarity. — By Caitlin White

‘Stones Throw’s “Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton” Tour’
Music Hall of Williamsburg
9:00 p.m., $18/$20
You could say that Stones Throw is having a moment. Founded in 1996 by DJ and producer Peanut Butter Wolf, the “indie label out of Hollywood” behind such seminal releases as Dilla’s Donuts and Madvillain’s Madvillainy is taking some its eclectic roster on the road in support of its almost-20th-birthday and soon-to-be-released feature-length documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton. The film officially arrives in theaters after SXSW but will be previewed at Brooklyn’s Indie Screen the same day Wolf and his hip-hop associates Jonwayne and J. Rocc take the stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. — By Harley Oliver Brown

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