The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Week, 4/21/14


Monday, 4/21:

Irving Plaza
7:00 p.m., $20

Perhaps Riff Raff’s existence, and subsequent ubiquity, in hip-hop was an inevitability. Perhaps it was written in the stars that a goofy white dude from Texas with corn rows, aspirations of superstardom and a penchant for describing normal things in terms of designer clothing would sign with Diplo and convince a legion of 17-year-olds to love him while confounding hip-hop’s old guard. Perhaps it is obvious that this very, very strange man would play larger and larger venues every time he hit New York. Perhaps Riff Raff is for real. Perhaps the neon, the strange mannerisms and the bizarre behavior are all part of an act. Perhaps you are thinking about all of this too much and should just enjoy the show. — By Drew Millard

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Bowery Ballroom
9:00 p.m., $17/$20

When Avey Tare (the stage persona of David Portner) isn’t busy with Animal Collective, he’s flexing his even more intensely experimental muscles with some solo and side projects. It’s been a year since Tare announced the ghoulishly named Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, a supergroup of sorts that includes Angel Deradoorian (formerly of Dirty Projectors) and Jeremy Hyman (formerly of Ponytail). This month, they unleashed Enter the Slasher House, an album not nearly as terrifying as it sounds. Well-received by critics and fans alike, it keeps in line with Tare’s psychedelic freakishness while still being catchy and classically jazzy. Their ability to pull off that combination may be the spookiest part of all. — By Brittany Spanos

Wednesday, 4/23:

Fear of Men
Baby’s All Right
7:30 p.m., free

Brighton quartet Fear of Men approach records with fervent pointillism. Literally: the artwork for their last record, Early Fragments, was colored using tiny pixels. A band this meticulous usually isn’t the kind to write sweeping, crystalline indie pop that’s simultaneously saccharine and sinister. Then again, Fear of Men isn’t your usual band. Their live set is equally as delicate as it is textured: almost like they forgot they’re not a punk band. If melancholic lyricism and subtle melodies are your bag, look no further. Did we mention this show is free? That’s a pretty good deal! — By Maria Sherman

Patti Smith + Jesse Paris + Eric Hoegemeyer
The Greene Space
7:00 p.m., $30

“April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain” and snow, as the case may be. T.S. Eliot’s timeless modernist epic, The Waste Land, is particularly apropos this year in the wake of the polar vortex. In homage to this “Sorry not sorry” spring, Patti Smith joins daughter Jesse Paris Smith and Eric Hoegemeyer for an evening of meditations on nature and ephemerality featuring Dickinson, Whitman, Sebald, and other remembrances of things past. Expect a tribute to two of Smith’s former collaborators, Lou Reed and Pete Seeger. — By Aidan Levy

Factory Floor
Music Hall of Williamsburg
9:00 p.m., $15/$18

Factory Floor proves the possibility of revelation through repetition. The critically acclaimed trio of Nik Void, Dominic Butler, and Gabe Gurnsey released their debut LP in 2013 on DFA, but they have been winning converts stateside for their percussive singularity thanks in no small part to this ongoing and rare tour, where the barely-restrained brutality of their interplay makes for an electric and unpredictable live experience. — By Aaron Gonsher

Thursday, 4/24:

Sol Cat
Rockwood Music Hall
10:00 p.m., free

A fluid, insistent guitar style that’s disco at moments and flanged at others, plus a magnetic, over-enunciating frontman? Yes, that’s Nashville’s Sol Cat, a weirdly thrilling smash-up of first-album Franz Ferdinand and fake-tamed Anthony Kiedis. There’s a crowd-pleasing lilt to their rock that skews pop — they may as might have dubbed themselves “Soul Patch” — but the sheer weirdness of the sonics clothing every hook may well endear Sol Cat to both the 12-CD a year punter and the Brooklyn beardo who wishes the Strokes employed more effects pedals in the studio. — By Raymond Cummings

Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors
ShapeShifter Lab
7:00 p.m., $10

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from the bassist-composer’s mid-sized ensemble. But he’s been spending his time wisely. Chamber Music America commissioned “Bear Proof,” which the Cali-grown Sickafoose describes as a “wordless portrait of booms, busts, prospects & ruin in our golden state.” He might nod to a couple pieces from the suite at this Gowanus hit, but much of the show will feature the fascinating Rubik’s cubes that have become the bandleader’s trademark. Zig-zag melodies and pan-textural forays lunge for the heart in his work, and his best charts have a way of making mathy notions sound sentimental. — By Jim Macnie

Vijay Iyer and the Brentano String Quartet
The Greene Space
7:00 p.m., $20

Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has won a MacArthur “Genius Grant,” regularly tops the jazz critics’ polls, and recently began teaching at Harvard. With a degree in physics from Yale and a doctorate in music cognition from Berkeley, Iyer attests to the often counterintuitive correlation between music and math. Contrary to sociobiologist Steven Pinker’s assertion that music is “auditory cheesecake,” a byproduct of the pleasure principle, Iyer cites free jazz visionary Cecil Taylor’s maxim that “music is everything that you do.” Ergo Time, Place, Action, Iyer’s new piano quintet that is a celebration of life as collective improvisation and features the Brentano String Quartet, the strings behind A Late Quartet. — By Aidan Levy

Friday, 4/25:

Steve Gunn
Rough Trade NYC
9:00 p.m., $15

The impeachable Steve Gunn has been involved with Kurt Vile and The Violators in the past, but more recently, he has recently focused on his own material and solo career. A guitarist in the American Primitivist tradition, Gunn pulls from John Fahey’s wide scope of influence without ever feeling like he’s cribbed anything. In reality, Gunn has five solo albums of eclectic, sparse guitar work and simply sung lyrics, but 2013’s Time Off has been one of his most recognized releases so far. Expect wry, dour reflections on life amidst intricate finger-picking and a storm of strumming. — By Caitlin White

Joe’s Pub
9:30 p.m., $20

How would you like your piano prepared this evening? As Hauschka, Dusseldorf’s Volker Bertelmann augments a standard acoustic keyboard with ping-pong balls, strings, wood, foil, paper, and other objects. He’s a one-man band who often sounds like a complete ensemble, especially when augmented by electronics. The happy, dark, and intermittently house-hoppy tracks on his new Abandoned City force you to hear an old instrument in a new way. — By Richard Gehr

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