The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 6/05/15


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


Friday, 6/05
Governor’s Ball
Randall’s Island
Friday – Sunday, 12 p.m., $120 – $2000
Mighty forgiving of the Governors Ball Music Festival to book Conor Oberst, whose song about the event describes a stage that “looked like a vending machine/The singer, a black Barbie doll.” Here’s hoping Oberst opens with it tomorrow, when he performs at the same time as darkling siren Björk. Today’s headliners are Drake and My Morning Jacket, who probably won’t enjoy much crossover appeal. Arrive early for Benjamin Booker, an excellent New Orleans guitarist, and do likewise tomorrow for the terrific English spoken-word artist Kate Tempest, with Deadmau5 and Ryan Adams closing things out later. Sunday is fraught with tough choices: Black Keys or Lana Del Rey? Noel Gallagher or Big Gigantic? Hot Chip or Flying Lotus? War on Drugs or “Weird Al” Yankovic? You’ll figure it out somehow. — Richard Gehr

Blue Note Jazz Festival
Blue Note
Daily, 8 p.m., $20 – $55
Some jazz fests bet the farm on stylistic focus; some let a wide breadth carry the day. File this year’s Blue Note Jazz Festival in the latter category and get ready for action. If you participate fully, you’ll be bouncing around town (and genres). How else to describe a month-long confab that includes Bebel Gilberto and Kathleen Battle as well as Oliver Lake and the Rippingtons? Mainstream swing, old-school blues, swamp rock, classical refractions, and the city’s first all-women mariachi outfit — the BNJF curators aren’t sweating the orthodoxy, and that alone is rather refreshing. Icons are invited, of course; saxophonist Lee Konitz, drummer Roy Haynes, and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim still have the power to amaze. You’ll need to sketch your own must-see list, but be wise: That Bad Plus-Joshua Redman gig has to make the cut. — Jim Macnie

Little Dragon
Brooklyn Bowl
11:30 p.m., $27.50 – $30
Over their years together, Little Dragon have traversed folk, dance music, trip-hop, slow jams, r&b, indie rock, and synthpop, all while remaining consistently true to their own style. Beginning as a high school band in Gothenburg, Sweden, lifelong friends Yukimi Nagano, Erik Bodin, Fred Wallin, and Håkan Wirenstrand have proven that Little Dragon has not-so-little plans for constant genre-bending and reinvention, with three studio albums burnishing their musical diversity, the most recent being 2014’s Nabuma Rubberband. The group will be performing alongside Razor-N-Tape and JKriv & Aaron Dae in advance of their Governors Ball show the following day. — Eleanor Lambert

10 p.m., $20 – $30
Chromeo, the electro-funk duo who brought you classics like “Night By Night” and “Sexy Socialite” along with newer hits like “Jealous (I Ain’t With It),” are performing the second of two NYC shows for a doubled dosage of groove. An amalgam of syncopated, funky riffs and soothing, steady vocals, Chromeo’s songs evoke a genuine sense of delight. Thursday’s show featured the boys on live instruments, whereas Friday’s turn at Output will be a DJ set; either is pretty much a guaranteed good time. — Eleanor Lambert

Atmosphere + Bishop Nehru
Irving Plaza
11 p.m., $25
There aren’t many comparisons you can initially draw between Minneapolis’s Atmosphere and Rockland County’s Bishop Nehru, besides the way both hip-hop acts make rhyming look easy. The whimsically fun Atmosphere (the duo’s respective handles: Slug and Ant) scored a hit with their single “You” back in 2008 on the strength of Slug’s journeyman rhymes and Ant’s undeniable production. Nehru, on the other hand, reached critical acclaim before even reaching his maximum height (the New Yorker is only eighteen) and has collaborated with the evil genius MF Doom, as heard on last fall’s NehruvianDoom. The two acts play either early- or mid-afternoon slots at Gov Ball, which makes this late-night performance a great second opportunity to catch them in their zone. — Silas Valentino

On the next page: Picks for Saturday and Sunday

Saturday, 6/06
11 p.m., SOLD OUT
Where there is EDM Twitter drama, there is Deadmau5. The producer has both launched and participated in countless cyber-spats with DJs, fans, and everyone in between. His most recent appearance was just days ago in Mat Zo’s ‘This is What’s Really Going On with EDM’ rant-turned-discussion-turned-heated (and at times puerile) virtual joust. But as a DJ/producer with an extensive and distinct musical repertoire, Joel Zimmerman’s opinions are generally worthwhile. More than this outspoken charm, the producer puts on spectacular shows. As a “post-game” to his Gov. Ball performance, Deadmau5 has sold out Brooklyn’s Verboten for a solo show, but don’t worry — you can still find tickets on secondary markets, though they’ll cost you. — Eleanor Lambert

Rezwana Choudhury Bannya
Symphony Space
8 p.m., $30 – $40
The first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for literature (in 1913), Rabindranath Tagore was India’s greatest modern poet. He also composed thousands of songs. Bengali singer Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, who gave up economics for music, is a fervent Tagore devotee. Steeped in the classical tradition, Bannya delivers the poet’s spiritual yet humanist Bengali lyrics with beautiful ornamentation and passionate clarity. Deeply sensual and devotional at the same time, her voice transcends language. — Richard Gehr

Pete Tong
3 p.m. – 10 p.m., $15 – $20
Our favorite BBC Brit is coming to Output to bring us back to our dance music roots. The “Pied Piper to Dance,” Pete Tong has been a pioneer in all things dance since the Eighties, and more recently has aided in our return to the figurative dark side of EDM. Standing firmly behind an honest, “deep” and elemental sound, Tong reinforces a stance on dance music that encourages genuine participation in and love for the music, its roots, and a desire to dance. Support for this daytime party/performance will feature Cranks and Total Fitness, and if they’re coming with Tong, they’re going to make your body pound with some seriously deep vibrations. — Eleanor Lambert

Sunday, 6/07
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $12
Calexico have remained fairly consistent throughout their career: Never quite reaching critical mass, yet never taking their eye off the ball. They’re reliable. And in this current musical climate of surprise stylistic left turns and unexpected album drops, reliability is comforting. Since appearing on the I’m Not There Bob Dylan covers compilation, Calexico have been an ideal addition to any major stage bill with their authentic performances that rarely draw away limelight. Calexico are currently touring in support of their recently released eighth album, Edge of the Sun, with which they continue mastering their take on mid-tempo indie and Americana-infused rock. Sometimes their roots in Tex-Mex accordions shine more than their happy-wanderer persona, but as a whole, this band sounds confident in its short strides. — Silas Valentino

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
SummerStage at Flushing Meadows Park
4 p.m., FREE
Of all the shows occurring this weekend outside of Randalls Island, this is the one worth skipping the Black Keys for. Charles Bradley‘s is a Cinderella story that’s easy to continue cheering for, an arc that brought him from James Brown impersonator to soulful headliner in his own right — and that’s just part of his charm. That tender, loving voice can summon tsunamis with its emotional highs or pacify tigers with its calming cool. But more importantly, Bradley convinces you he’s the real thing through his sweat-soaked shirts and soul-cutting gaze. I don’t know why it’s so hard to make it in this land of milk and honey, but just hearing Bradley ask the same question in “Why Is It So Hard” somehow makes it all feel a little bit better. — Silas Valentino