The Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 8/22/14


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

Friday, 8/22:

Arcade Fire
Barclays Center
Friday through Sunday, 7:30 p.m. daily, $35-$85
Arcade Fire is a band that has managed to preserve the concept of “indie rock,” even while they are playing massive arenas like the Barclays Center, as they are tonight. This carefully-constructed image and ethos is reliant on their ever-evolving style and peculiar band dynamics. They’ve never given in to the draw of radio-ready beats or riffs, instead moving further away from accessibility, even as their fame grows. Last year’s Reflektor was perhaps their weirdest and most critically acclaimed album yet. Another marker of their eccentricity is the opening act of their show–the iconic New York band Television. In a rockist’s world, Television opening for Arcade Fire is a marvelous mishap that is almost an affront to Television’s legacy. But then again, it’s also an indication that Arcade Fire is mindful of the past and producing music that’s valid enough to warrant pairings like this. The Unicorns are also on the bill, so all bets are completely off. — By Caitlin White

Dead Gaze
South Street Seaport
6:00 p.m., free
Dead Gaze’s Cole Furlow’s is a one-man noise-pop wrecking crew, pinching off distorted gems that lodge in memory as easily as they defy categorization. In his hands, abrupt punk melodies churn and roil under geysers of feedback and effects, but his effortlessly direct, bitter voice slices through the din. It’s as if the songs are skirmishes in an ongoing emotional war that Furlow is perpetually at grave risk of losing. — By Raymond Cummings

Saturday, 8/23:

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
12:00 a.m., $60
When “Can’t Deny It” was first released, it wasn’t the cool, cocky delivery, chipped-tooth flow, or Nate Dogg’s Makavelian hook that captured everyone’s attention; similarly, “Young’n (Holla Back)” was always more than the sum of its slick rhymes and chipper Neptunes beat. Fab’s incredible wordplay and lush beats on “I’m So into You” and “Can’t Let You Go,” two crossover tracks that made 2003’s Street Dreams so great aren’t even the best part of Fab. Real Talk‘s “Breathe” was a hot song, with an insistent Just Blaze production, but all of that is just icing on the cake. The thing that is most fascinating about Fabolous is how he spells his name: F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S. Where does that first “o” come from? What drove him to turn fabulous into Fabolous? Not all questions have answers, but Fab is unquestionably a veteran in the game now–quite possibly the only punchline rapper left. — By Winston Groman

Dave Douglas Quintet
Friday & Saturday, 8:30 p.m. & 11:00 p.m., $40
They mess with polyphony now and again, and those sections of their hard-swinging book are some of the joyous in modern jazz. Douglas does a superb job of giving everyone the green light for personal expression while maintaining the architecture of his wily tunes, and from Jon Irabagon to Rudy Royston they’re always ready to burn. They’ll be blowing in from a string of European dates, so expect coordination to be front and center. — By Jim Macnie

John Talabot
10:00 p.m., $20/$30
The popular Spanish DJ’s breakthrough album came out in 2012, but it’s the kind of deep listen that can keep you busy for years as you fish through all the crevices he’s buried under reverb and a foreground patchwork of sampled vocals. Once inside those tiny caves, you’ll find in equal measure both occasional bursts of intricate percussion and a muted production spit-shine that can probably be traced all the way back to Burial. — By Vijith Assar

Sunday, 8/24:

‘Afropunk Festival’
Commodore Barry Park
Saturday & Sunday, 12:00 p.m. daily, free
Finding a free, two-day music festival with a hefty lineup like the one featured at this year’s AfroPunk Fest is like finding gold. Maybe pure gold is the best way to describe an annual show that supports the involvement of black people in various alternative music genres, which span everything from soul to punk. This year a wild collection of artists take over Commodore Barry Park for the weekend. Unlocking the Truth, Body Count, and Cro-Mags share stages with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, SZA, and D’Angelo, making this fertile ground for everyone who loves music and loves supporting diversity therein. Beyond just bands, the festival celebrates all the forms of art music influences like fashion and comedy, making for a jam-packed celebration. — By Brittany Spanos

City Winery
Friday through Sunday, 6:00 p.m. daily, $45-$55
Formed in 1977 by singing poet Exene Cervenka, her bassist-soulmate John Doe, enigmatic rockabilly guitarist Billy Zoom, and pile-driving drummer D.J. Bonebrake, X is arguably the greatest punk-rock group still performing with its original membership. Beginning tonight, they’ll perform their four earliest albums – Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big Black Sun, and More Fun in the New World – in their entirety over as many evenings. Produced by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, X’s songs about Californication, jealousy, death, and decay suggested a lineage that cut diagonally through hippie culture back to the Beats and Woody Guthrie’s populist idealism. X also delivered probably the best line to come out of the SoCal punk ethos: “We’ll crawl through your backyard/ And whack your yappin’ dog!” — By Richard Gehr

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