The 10 Best Concerts in NYC This Week, 7/14/2014


These are the best concerts in NYC this week. For more, hop over to our Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

Bruno Mars + Pharrell Williams
Madison Square Garden
Monday & Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., $54.50-$155.
Live, via satellite, or pounding through your earbuds, Bruno Mars is unarguably the hardest working man in show business right now – a twenty-something with a 1950s-tinged stage presence and 1980s pop-compounding hits. The impish, dimpled star is joined for this two-night stand by Pharrell Williams, an A-List producer enjoying an unlikely comeback as a kind of R&B classicist. In tandem, the pair’s unique versions of bouncy, saccharine uplift will either buoy your spirits or rot out your molars, depending on your disposition. — By Raymond Cummings

King Buzzo of the Melvins
The Wick
8:00 p.m., $15.
Legendary iconoclast, godhead riffer, purveyor of grunge and leader of the sludgemongers Nirvana craved to be, Buzz Osborne AKA King Buzzo–along with drums titan Dale Crover–have ruled the underground rock roost with avant-metal kings Melvins for the last thirty years. Now, the electric socket-fried-haired and Simpsons fanatic Osborne has traded in his ax for an acoustic on his unplugged debut, This Machine Kills Artists. But for the naysayers thinking Buzzo has mellowed and gone hippie folk all over our asses, think again. Osborne’s Herculean finger-picking ‘n’ strumming Machine still reeks of classic Melvins: it drips with sonic heaviosity, icky guitarrorism, Satanic wails, possessed wordplay and those epic licks that Kurt Cobain wished to the grunge gods he could dish out. — By Brad Cohan

Tuesday, 7/15:

Camera Obscura
Le Poisson Rouge
9:00 p.m., $25/$27
If irony is the currency of American indie pop, last summer’s Desire Lines, Glaswegian outfit Camera Obscura’s lithe fifth album, trades in its more wistful Scottish equivalent, Byronic nostalgia, cultivating a mid-career freshness steeped in the ennui and disillusionment typified by the angst-ridden poet and quintessential anti-hero Lord Byron. “I seek not to be grand nor witty, but I am half a Scot by birth, and bred a whole one, and my heart flies to my head,” he wrote. An image of Byron opens “William’s Heart,” the album’s most arresting track, hitting the saturation point for lilting literalized metaphors till the cup runneth over with single malt. With Laura Cantrell. — By Aidan Levy

Eyal Maoz’s Crazy Slavic Band
The Stone
8:00 p.m., $10-$15.
Expect bold music from the outer brasslands when this Israeli prog-jazz experimentalist kicks off his six-night, 10-act Stone residency this evening with a horn-heavy septet that includes Frank London (trumpet) and Briggin Krauss (saxophone) playing tunes inspired by contemporary Slavic composers. The early set (separate admission, kids) features X, Maoz’s vehicle for guitar-plus-string-quartet compositions. — By Richard Gehr

Ben Allison Group
Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 p.m. & 11:00 p.m. daily, $40
One of the most intriguing bandleaders in town, the bassist is always recalibrating his ensembles to fit whatever he’s hearing in his head. Often it’s swirl of crosshatched ideas articulated with precision and elan – even at their most agitated, there’s a streak of grace running through Allison’s intricate tunes. This particular band is a who’s-who of local heavyweights – Cardenas, Royston, Pelt and Nash. Bet they kill. — By Jim Macnie

Wednesday, 7/16:

Basement Jaxx (DJ set)
10:00 p.m., $15
The British dance-pop behemoths Basement Jaxx have been revived in 2014, teasing their forthcoming LP Junto with three piano-driven tracks that highlight the sugariest of their typical capabilities. The duo of Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Burton are now known for sprawling, hyperactive shows featuring numerous live vocalists, but considering their name was originally derived from a club night, hopefully they still remember how to heat up a smaller room when they DJ at Verboten. — By Aaron Gonsher

De La Soul
Irving Plaza
7:30 p.m., $30.
De La Soul’s anniversary show is a celebration of their debut 1989 album 3 Feet High And Rising, which is seen as a major contribution to the development of alternative hip-hop, with its focus on diverse sampling, and promotion of unity and goodwill. While the album is De La Soul’s largest commercial success, the group continued to release projects that were acclaimed by critics. This past Valentine’s Day, De La Soul made their entire catalog, pre-The Grind Date, available for free download. They have a few new projects in the works, including a new album You’re Welcome, a mixtape Smell the D.A.I.S.Y., and a new EP Premium Soul on the Rocks. — By Tara Mahadevan

Terminal 5
Wednesday through Friday, 8:00 p.m. daily, $25/$30
Flume’s brand of house pop is stutter-speed retro – funked fireworks staggered into a head-rung swagger. Vocal samples – all at once familiar, alien, and impossibly close – moonwalk through cuts on this Australian’s self-titled 2013 debut as though each song is a themed space at a massive rave. While Flume‘s acid-dance grooves recall the salad days of Big Beat bounce, this new pollution is decidedly more user-friendly, hemorrhaging hooks and never quite shifting into face-melting warp drive. This could get really popular, or maybe it already is: his trio of shows are sold out. — By Raymond Cummings

Thursday, 7/17:

Ex Hex
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
6:30 p.m., free w/ regular museum admission
Ex Hex, Mary Timony’s latest concern, packs a load of sweet, chugga chugga chugga oomph into power-trio pop-rock. The group’s vibe is a snotty shrug: resolutely low-stakes yet indignantly ear-worm-y, the kind of show opener that blows the headliner away totally by accident. On Ex Hex’s debut EP, Everywhere, the madrigal tonalities and Dungeon & Dragons imagery characterizing so much of Timony’s prior work is gone, replaced by dazzling fuzz guitar leads and grim amusement. Maybe, just maybe, Timony’s finally found some Jicks of her own. — By Raymond Cummings

Friday, 7/18:

Matthew Sweet
City Winery
8:00 p.m., $45-$55.
This ’90s alt-rock demigod was one of the first navel-gazing singer-songwriters to come up with more than amplified lint, enlisting iconoclastic guitarists Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd to channel the bone-dry cynicism of breakout album Girlfriend, galvanizing a generation looking for a viable alternative to whatever else was out there. In preparation for his first album of original material in four years, Sweet and his regular touring band will perform choice tracks from his extensive catalogue, up through 2011 release Modern Art. For die-hard Sweet fans, the forthcoming project’s as-yet-unfunded Kickstarter offers a $10,000 live house concert and a limited edition bronze casted cat sculpture. With Tommy Keene. — By Aidan Levy

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