Ghostface Killah’s Free Show Dominates the Best Concerts in NYC This Week


As long as bands like the Vaccines are releasing excellent records like their recent English Graffiti, the rock ‘n’ roll doubters can be kept at bay. The London foursome return to New York to pay homage to a city that helped define the gritty sound they live by. Are you hungry for something heavier? Swedish septet Cult of Luna are set to bring their sludgy metal to the Gramercy Theatre while local hip-hop legend Ghostface Killah plays a free show in Brooklyn.

Monday, 8/31

Half Waif
Manhattan Inn
8:30 p.m., FREE

Electro-pop will be the name of the game during this free evening at the Manhattan Inn with local songstress Half Waif topping the bill. Mixing minimalistic percussion and instrumentation with her echoic vocals, Half Waif — or Nandi Rose Plunkett — plays in the same vein as Imogen Heap but with more intimacy and less arena-ready anthems. Her 2014 release Kotekan succeeds with its well-produced synth pop that serves as the base to Half Waif’s soaring vocals. Opening are Miles Francis and the edgier electro duo Cold War, whose dual attack on the keyboard creates an eerie-yet-alluring soundscape. — Silas Valentino

The Rock Shop
8 p.m., $7 – $10

Starbenders are a strapping new punk rock foursome out of Atlanta that rip through their crunchy guitar licks under the leadership of their tenacious singer Kimi Shelter. A Starbender song can dismantle eardrums with heavy thunder without sacrificing any of their bubblegum pop catchiness. Their recent single “Paper Beats Rock” is a relentless number that grabs you by the collar with its tense opening verse only to eventually release steam during a cathartic chorus. Shelter’s growl is demanding of any nearby attention. — Silas Valentino

Tuesday, 9/1

The Vaccines
Rough Trade NYC
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., $25

English post-punk rockers the Vaccines are an anecdote to the mild-tempered drool typically found in radio-friendly rock ‘n’ roll. Lead singer Justin Young appears to have studied at the School of Joe Strummer by the way he effortlessly incorporates pop hooks with combative rock in a ferocious fusion. For their third effort, the May 25’s English Graffiti, the Vaccines hooked up with seasoned producer Dave Friedman — the sonic mastermind who brings clarity to the Flaming Lips — with the intention of replicating the warm vintage feel heard in Sleater-Kinney’s Friedman-produced achievement The Woods. The outcome? A sturdy testament from a band that has yet to run out of ways to make rock ‘n’ roll sound so deliciously melodious. — Silas Valentino

Cult of Luna
Gramercy Theatre
8 p.m., $18

Since their 2001 debut, Sweden’s Cult of Luna have been cultivating their heavy metal sludge sound through the engineering of their elaborate, often nine-plus minute monster songs. 2013’s Vertikal has the septet continuing their exploration into the depths of post-metal doom, where tracks “I: The Weapon” and “Mute Departure” boil until they burst into a furious release of robust guitar and the shrieking cries of lead singer Johannes Persson. The band cites the 1927 German Expressionist film Metropolis as a major inspiration behind Vertikal, hinting that Cult of Luna hope to stimulate as much as they annihilate. — Silas Valentino

Sessions at the Circle
Time Warner Center
6 p.m., FREE

Lasting through September 1, the free music series Sessions at the Circle — which runs each Tuesday night at six — offers live performances from premier musicians on a weekly basis. Taking place on the second floor of the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, the program is a co-presentation between Jazz at Lincoln Center and DoNYC. The program concludes with the International Chamber Orchestra of America on September 1. — Danny King

The Grand Victory
7 p.m., $9

Even though the members of the local glam rock group Youthquake appear to have been born years after the late Sixties cultural movement that bears their name, that hasn’t stopped them from integrating a rebellious attitude into their riff-heavy tunes. Heck, even Twiggy, a supermodel of those times, is cited as one of their tags on Bandcamp beside riot grrrl and power pop. With only a couple of tracks under their belt — including the infectious single “Honey Wagon” — and no official LP release, Youthquake sound as if they’re currently charging up in an attempt to resurrect Ziggy Stardust and CBGB for boundless debauchery. — Silas Valentino

Wednesday, 9/2

Lake Street Dive
Central Park SummerStage
5:00 p.m., FREE

The final stretch of summer before the leaves fall down in a golden deluge offers one more gratuitous event. Lake Street Dive is a Brooklyn-via-Boston indie foursome that keeps one leg in jazz while the other is dipping into blue-eyed soul. Led by the powerful vocals of Rachael Price, Lake Street Dive play with conviction as they perform “Bad Self Portraits,” the opening track off their recent record of the same name. This summer may be through, but let’s have this swan song ring loud until the next. — Silas Valentino

Union Pool
8 p.m., $10 – $12

Hoferlanz is the creative outlet for trombonist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Lanz, a seasoned contributor to recent, superlative records by Beirut, The National and Sufjan Stevens. This Union Pool show is the release party for his self-titled debut and so far the two released tracks have the album poised with promise. Opening number “Karla’s Retreat” offers some of that jubilant and expansive orchestration heard in Come on Feel the Illinois!-era Sufjan and reaches this feat without sounding like a cheap copy. Lanz has been boosting some of contemporary indie rock’s greatest titans, and with Hoferlanz, he’s breaking out and ascending on his own. — Silas Valentino

Thursday, 9/3

The Prettiots
Elvis Guesthouse
9 p.m., $5

New York trio the Prettiots take their depressing thoughts and reshape them into endearing pop songs, as heard in the irresistible single “Suicide Hotline,” where bandleader Kay Kasparhauser confesses that “On a scale of one to Plath I’m like a four” over tight ukulele plucks. The band slips pop elements into their songs, like hum-along vocals and melodic hooks tucked in by bassist Lulu Prat, and score with Kasparhauser’s overtly honest and unassuming lyrics. Catch ’em in a venue this size while you can. — Silas Valentino

Ghostface Killah
House of Vans
7 p.m., FREE

When Adrian Younge was asked to produce an album for Ghostface Killah, he didn’t want a traditional rap collaboration from the Wu-Tang Clan rapper. “I wanted it to have some fervent brand behind it. Something palpable. Something you could touch and feel,” he says. The result — 2013’s Twelve Reasons to Die — was a critically beloved concept album that laced Ghost’s theatrical flow into the mafioso story of Tony Starks. The saga continued with Twelve Reasons to Die II, released on July 10, where the Staten Island rapper returned to the gritty landscape of Seventies New York City and was joined by Lester Kane (played by Raekwon). “Without giving too much away, basically it’s a story about Ghostface and Raekwon,” explains Younge. “Raekwon is a gangster in New York in 1974. He gets into trouble and basically summons the spirit of Ghostface Killah to come help him and solve his problem… and there’s the crazy twist at the end.” This all-ages show is free after you RVSP. — Sowmya Krishnamurthy

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