Sharon Jones Spreads Holiday Cheer in This Week’s Best NYC Concerts


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

There are plenty of people in this world who genuinely adore Christmas carols; as soon as the turkey is out of the oven, on comes “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or any other number of ubiquitous holiday sing-alongs. The rest of us (many of whom have spent the season toiling thanklessly in retail while seemingly crazed shoppers exercise their darkest fits of entitlement) cringe at the first jingle of “Jingle Bells.” But Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ first ever holiday-themed album (and the follow-up to Grammy-winning 2014 LP Give the People What They Want) is both brilliantly biting and unabashedly joyful, a rare combination that, when backed by a host of talented soul musicians, can bring those disparate segments of the population together. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings appear alongside Brandi Carlile, Dawes, and surprise secret guests for special collaborations in a benefit for WFUV at Beacon Theatre on Friday. There are also holiday shows this week from Cyndi Lauper and Landlady, but if you’re more of a musical Scrooge, Neko Case will perform career-spanning hits at the Apollo and Sepalcure returns with new work (finally!) at DIY venue Palisades.

Friday 12/4
Neko Case
Apollo Theater
8 p.m., $40-$45
With nearly twenty years in the music business, Neko Case has certainly had some career-defining moments. She penned albums with indie power poppers the New Pornographers before they could even be considered a supergroup, and rose to acclaim with several of her Canadian-based bandmates, earning a tongue-in-cheek “honorary Canadian” title from them. She coined a genre, “country noir,” to describe the combination of her husky honky-tonk singer vocals and flair for gothic melodrama. Her prolific nine-album streak culminated in a Best Alternative Music Album Grammy nomination for The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, which contained the gender-redefining kick-in-the-pants “Man.” Having released a limited-edition eight-album vinyl box set of all her releases this November via Anti Records titled Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule, Case is scheduled to play some shows that recall her rock ‘n’ roll roots, backed by a quartet. But don’t bring a camera to commemorate the performance – Case has been known to halt shows based on violations of her strict photo policy. Originally scheduled for Brooklyn Masonic Temple, the show was moved to the Apollo but remains general admission as opposed to assigned seating, so you might need to get there early to snag a great spot (and catch 4AD-signed Søren Juul, who opens). – Lindsey Rhoades

Holiday Cheer For FUV
Beacon Theatre
8 p.m., $45-$300
It’s one thing to dedicate your Friday night to the pursuit of sick dance moves, heartfelt sing-alongs and holiday cheer. It’s another when doing so for the sake of a beloved radio station is involved. WFUV’s annual holiday jam takes place at the Beacon Theatre on December 4, and the lineup — Brandi Carlisle, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Dawes and Lucius — boasts some of the most dependably enjoyable talents on the touring circuit today. Come for the positive vibes; stay for the boogie-in-the-aisle temptations and ugly-cry moments brought about by Lucius “Two of Us On The Run” and a chance to raise a glass to Dawes’ “When My Time Comes.” – Hilary Hughes

All Them Witches
Rough Trade NYC
8 p.m., $12-$15
Nashville-based quartet All Them Witches are more than just provocative – they’re downright insinuating. In the nine songs that make up the 45 minutes of their third album, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, the gamut runs over dreamy, droney, visceral, intuitive, doomy, trippy (but not too hippie), hypnotic, spoken word/Shamanic, lovely and lilting. Yet at times there’s still a song structure and melodic urgency that incites radio play, as in the winning “Dirt Preacher.” If music is tribal kinship and experiential, lead singer Charles Michael Parks, Jr. tries to extend that beyond the edge of the stage, casting a spell over Rough Trade on December 4. – Katherine Turman


The Knitting Factory
8 p.m., $15-$40
It would be easy to classify Sky-Pony under indie pop, but that would be too simple; the Brooklyn-based outfit has gained a loyal and ever-expanding cult following, and their debut Beautiful Monster is a brilliant mash-up of music, choreography, costumes, projections, and drama that moves the listener from the sophisticated joy of electropop melodies and lead vocalist Lauren Worsham’s haunting vocals in “Steal Tonight” to the percussion-and-strings-heavy title track relating a story of retribution for a love gone wrong that would fit seamlessly into an Andrew Lloyd Webber production. They’re throwing an album release party at The Knitting Factory Friday night to see just how far they can push the musical-theater-meets-rock envelope. – Nancy Dunham

Saturday 12/5
11:59 p.m., $15
Combining drum ‘n’ bass with post-punk, accomplished house producers Travis Stewart (Machinedrum) and Praveen Sharma (Praveen & Benoît) collaborated to release their critically-lauded self-titled debut as Sepalcure in 2011, but have been largely silent since, save for 2013’s Make You EP. Fans have been thirsting for more, and they’re finally getting it; the duo shared new single “Fight For Us” in October, with a new full-length slated for April. Their late-night Saturday show at gritty Bushwick spot Palisades is more of a nod to their garage leanings than their electronic ones (it wouldn’t have been surprising for them to play Output, after all) and will likely see them debuting some moody new material. – Lindsey Rhoades

Stolen Jars
Le Poisson Rouge
7 p.m., $10
As long as they have Wi-Fi, Stolen Jars can continue crafting their sharp indie pop indefinitely. Dropbox and emails are how Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund collaborate while living in separate states — and how the duo compiled material from the past three years into Kept, their splendid sophomore effort self-released in August. When trading vocal harmonies, the two sound like the mellower cousins of the Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth and Angel Deradoorian, with Fitzgerald’s bookish baritone smoothly complemented by Grund’s angelic support. But theirs is a whole mosaic of influences; in particular, Fitzgerald cites minimalist composer Steve Reich and Elvis Costello as prominent ingredients in Stolen Jars’ sound, with the latter encouraging a more emotive impact. Stolen Jars hits the stage at Le Poisson Rouge on December 5 alongside Great Caesar and Haybaby, as part of the venue’s ongoing On The Rise series, which showcases emerging, mostly local acts. – Silas Valentino

Car Seat Headrest
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $10-$12
Will Toledo might be the voice of a very restless and agitated generation. Under the moniker Car Seat Headrest – so named because he recorded his demos in abandoned parking lots whilst locked inside the family whip – Toledo’s hit upon the kind of ennui and alienation that plagues shy suburban twenty-somethings via a steady stream of angst-ridden, confessional tracks posted on Bandcamp. Since he began sharing his music in 2010, he’s self-released no fewer than eleven albums of melodic musings on the emotional limbo between childhood and becoming a full-fledged adult. When an intern at Matador played some tracks for label founder Chris Lombardi, he was intrigued enough to follow up, eventually signing Car Seat Headrest and agreeing to release Toledo’s first studio-recorded LP, Teens of Denial, next year, as well as a compilation of older songs called Teens of Style, which dropped in October. Car Seat Headrest just played a slew of acclaimed CMJ shows and are back for a sold-out, headlining set at Baby’s All Right on Saturday. – Lindsey Rhoades

Anika Pyle

8 p.m., $5
Last year, Anika Pyle penned an article for Vulture, hailing 2014 as the year women took over punk. She cited bands like Ex Hex, White Lung, Against Me!, and Perfect Pussy (fronted by Voice columnist Meredith Graves) and chastised those in the community who pretend that female contributions to punk music ended with the riot grrrl movement almost twenty years ago. As the lead singer of Chumped, she toured the country, recorded a handful of much buzzed-about EPs, and released debut album Teenage Retirement. And though earlier this fall Pyle informed fans that Chumped would take an indefinite hiatus, she’s already got a new project in the works called Katie Ellen (in honor of her great-grandmother). She’ll play a “soloish” set at Suburbia on Saturday, once again turning to music as a form of catharsis in times of personal upheaval. Filling out the bill, Mikey Erg (of The Ergs), and Lauren Denitzio (of the Worriers) are also performing similarly stripped down sets. – Jackson Connor

Cyndi Lauper
Beacon Theatre
8 p.m., $50-$2000
Each holiday season for the past four years, Cyndi Lauper has assembled a crew of A-list talent and friends for her Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays concert. This year’s event takes place December 5 at the Beacon Theatre, and as usual benefits the True Colors Fund, which fights homelessness among LGBTQ youth. With past guests including Pink, Laverne Cox, Sarah McLachlan, Lou Reed, Rosie O’Donnell, Adam Lambert, and more, this year’s lineup is just as star-studded, featuring Boy George, Natasha Bedingfield, Judy Gold, Cam, Joey Taranto, Justin Tranter, Keb’ Mo’, Ledisi, Anne Steele, Sharon Osborne, Valerie Simpson, Richie Sambora & Orianthi, Jordan Pundik and Kurt Vile. – Jill Menze

Sunday 12/6
Landlady’s Holiday Spectacular
The Bell House
7 p.m., $12-$50
Adam Schatz believes that a live music should feel like more than just a product-to-consumer relationship. That’s why, as the lead singer of Landlady, he’s put together something with a little extra push – Landlady’s second annual Holiday Spectacular benefit show at the Bell House December 6. This year’s proceeds go to We Make Noise, a Brooklyn-based organization offering free and sliding-scale music programming for youth of all ages through classes and workshops from the Bushwick School for Music, New York City Rock Camp, and Music’s Cool Music School. The lineup features dozens of artists, including veteran guitarist Nels Cline, who plays with Wilco, and vintage soul singer Eli Paperboy Reed. Schatz says the event helps attendees to get away from the commodification of the holidays and focus instead on bonding over new, weird traditions; no matter what you celebrate, that’s something we should all get behind. – Linda Laban

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