The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Week, 5/18/15


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


Monday, 5/18
‘Mobile Mondays’ – DJ Fatha Ramzee – Tribute to the Eighties & Nineties
Bowery Electric
10 p.m., FREE
Anyone can queue MP3s through Serato, some can play sets with their collection of twelve-inches, but a DJ night with only 45s? Until a backward-looking Brooklyn dive attempts to throw a party where DJs have to stick to wax cylinders, no one is going to touch Bowery Electric’s Mobile Mondays, the weekly event where residents like Operator EMZ, Joey Carvello, Natasha Diggs, and (when he’s not touring the world) Just Blaze keep you moving without the help of any records above seven inches. Whether it’s your first time or fortieth, tonight’s party is a must-attend, especially considering it will be a tribute to the Eighties and Nineties, with an endless fusion of “Punk Rock, New Wave, and Soul, Pop Music, Salsa, Rock and Roll, Calypso, Reggae, Rhythm and Blues, Disco and anything else classic and danceable”…from the local faves and, tonight, from DJ Fatha Ramzee. — Nick Murray

Tuesday, 5/19
Nico & Vinz
Irving Plaza
7 p.m., $29
Ever since their summer anthem “Am I Wrong,” Scandinavian duo Nico & Vinz have been stuck in just about everyone’s head. Originally called Envy, the duo initially released the hit single in 2013 — and then did so again in 2014 under their new name, based on their actual names: Kahouly Nicolay “Nico” Sereba and Vincent “Vinz” Dery. Aside from earning the distinction of having one of the most Shazam’d songs of all time, they released their sophomore album, Black Star Elephant, last October. A beautiful medley of soul, African folk music, reggae, rap, r&b, spoken interludes, and simple electronic instrumentals, the album is a long, thoughtful, and melodic journey. Now on tour, Nico & Vinz will be performing an all-ages show with support from Jason French and Sirenxx. — Eleanor Lambert

Courtney Barnett
Bowery Ballroom
Tuesday–Thursday, 8 p.m., $29
Melbourne-based guitarist and singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has a gift for turning workaday situations into captivating anecdotes — one of several clever qualities her music has become known for since 2012, when she started her own label, Milk! Records, and subsequently put out her first EP, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. “It’s a Monday; it’s so mundane. What exciting things’ll happen today?” she asks in “Avant Gardener,” before going on to detail what she plans to plant in her garden as a way of keeping her mind off the things she should actually be thinking about. But escaping the humdrum is essentially the same thing as learning to carve a carrot into a rose, and Barnett seems to know how to do both beautifully. Her debut studio album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit was released in March, and Barnett continues to draw from folk, country, and Sixties psychedelia, writing earnest, wordy songs that woozily drip with sarcasm and witty commentary. — Erin Manning

Wednesday, 5/20
Aram Bajakian
The Stone
Tuesday–Friday, 8 p.m. & 10 p.m., $15
The company Queens-based guitar shredder Aram Bajakian has kept is eye-popping, and like Marc Ribot, he’s a virtuosic jack-of-all-trades. Some highlights from his deep résumé: Bajakian wailed for the late and legendary Lou Reed on his final tours, served as go-to ax-man for downtown icon John Zorn, and toured with award-winning crooner Diana Krall. After a stellar 2014 that saw the release of his solo joint (and ace guitar clinic) there will also be flowers in hell and a collaboration with his wife and vocalist Julia Ulehla entitled Dálava, Bajakian has once again been summoned by Zorn. He teamed up with him on last year’s Psychomagia, a book of music written especially for Bajakian’s band Abraxas by the composer himself. Now he’ll curate a week of shows at Zorn’s Avenue C performance space, the Stone. Luminaries including Joe Morris, Jeremiah Cymerman, Jon Irabagon, and Sylvie Courvoisier will help Bajakian pay tribute to his mentor and teacher Dr. Yusef Lateef, and the six-stringer will play new music for solo guitar inspired by Russian director Sergei Parajanov’s seminal 1969 film The Color of Pomegranates. — Brad Cohan

TV on the Radio
Kings Theatre // Terminal 5
Wednesday 8 p.m. // Thursday 7 p.m., $39.50+
Though they’ve been shaking up the alt-rock scene since the early Aughts, TV on the Radio really hit their breakthrough in 2006 with the release of the universally acclaimed Return to Cookie Mountain. Led by the epic single “Wolf Like Me,” the album ushered in a new era of NYC indie. Prior to Seeds, released in November 2014, TV on the Radio had been off the musical radar since 2011’s Nine Types of Light, having taken a break after the tragic death of bassist Gerard Smith. Following a few years of grieving, and with the memory of their beloved bandmate still lingering in all they do, TV on the Radio are back and as eviscerating as ever, showcased by the LP’s lead single, “Happy Idiot.” — Brittany Spanos

 Picks for Thursday and Friday

Thursday, 5/21
The Notorious B.I.G. Bday Bash Nineties Party: The Classic Showcase Party With “The Finisher” Mister Cee
11 p.m., $15
Certain days simply have to be commemorated, even if a national holiday hasn’t been established yet. May 21 is one of those days: the day Christopher Wallace was born in our very own Queens, NY. And The Notorious B.I.G. Bday Bash Nineties Party is a perfect way to both appreciate and celebrate the many juicy wonders B.I.G. left in his wake. Hosted by Biggie’s onetime producer and NYC radio DJ “The Finisher” Mister Cee, this event will pay homage to the man who gave us hits like “Party and Bullshit” and “Going Back to Cali,” and graced us with other goodies like “Me & My Bitch”….Not to mention the countless collabs and features B.I.G. invigorated with his classically cool yet savage flow. 21+. — Eleanor Lambert

Cakes Da Killa
Le Poisson Rouge
7:30 p.m., $13–$15
Cakes Da Killa‘s debut mixtape, Easy Bake Oven, Vol. 1, and 2014’s The Eulogy showcase Rashard Bradshaw’s ability to flawlessly craft brilliant, memorable rhymes with visceral diction. If the Englewood, New Jersey–based MC somehow managed to slip past your radar, now is the time to catch up. Leaving fans turnt up on the heels of the revamped re-release of his Hunger Pangs EP, Cakes’ lyricism is the perfect ratio of lethal wit laced with arrogance, raunch, and charm. Fierce cuts like “Truth Tella” and the house-ready thump of “It’s Not Ovah” prove Bradshaw has a gift for cooking up addictive tracks that could easily double as mantras. As the crowned MC royal of Cunt Mafia, Bradshaw’s onstage alter ego is a force to be reckoned with. Get ready for his newest EP, #IMF, to become your new BFF. Also performing is Ssion. — Dianca Potts

Kaki King
Rough Trade NYC
8 p.m., $30
The guitar-thwacking virtuoso collaborates with visual designers Glowing Pictures for “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body,” an hour-long audio-visual hootenanny. Expect King‘s post–Windham Hill technical vocabulary to be in full effect, with original music augmented by some cool projection mapping and guitar animation. Her latest album, The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body , was released in March, and her tour is coming to NYC, full of her fiery string fanning, dazzling fingerpicking, and rat-a-tat fretboard tapping. — Richard Gehr

Friday, 5/22
Dan Deacon
8 p.m., $20
Dan Deacon is a rare individual: He wears the weighty title of composer while also making hit records (where “hit” means earning high praise from major media outlets and loyal fans). He’s sort of a unicorn, managing to win admirers from both the highbrow, New Classical camp as well as, for lack of a better term, hipsters. It helps that he’s an older Millennial and that his music is predominantly electronic. Those two factors perhaps broaden the appeal of his work, which is neither traditionally accessible in a pop sense nor alienating in heavily academic terms. Maybe it’s easier to describe what it isn’t than what it is because you never know what exactly to expect from Dan Deacon. He might ask the audience to participate in the performance, and, if you’re there, you’ll find your experience greatly enhanced if you oblige. — Linda Leseman

Brooklyn Night Bazaar
7 p.m., $5–$35
Washington, D.C., four-piece Priests play sparse, intense postpunk brimming with tension and a political edge. Their debut EP, Bodies and Control and Money and Power, took on Big Issues without getting preachy, and made many best-of-2014 lists in the process. And as good as that record is, it pales in comparison to their live set: Singer Katie Greer brings a seething energy to every word, and the band’s impeccable, tight support turns already excellent songs into riveting bursts of fury and purpose. Considering the recent announcement that Brooklyn Night Bazaar will close the night after this show, seeing Priests is a good way to say goodbye. With Greys, Skating Polly, and Done. — Zoë Leverant