PWR BTTM, Foals, Mariah’s Last Christmas Show and More Are This Weekend’s Best Concerts in NYC


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

It’s the weekend before Christmas, and all through the New York/Plenty of mice (or subway rats) were stirring and bands were getting to work. (We tried.) There’s a little bit of everything for anyone looking to catch a live show in NYC this weekend: Royal Trux reunite for a rare Webster Hall appearance, Mariah Carey wraps up her holiday residency at the Beacon, Guerilla Toss plays a free show at Palisades, PWR BTTM will spackle you with glitter, Foals will deafen you at T5 and more. Here are the best concerts taking place in New York December 18-20.

Friday 12/18
Holly Miranda
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $20
Holly Miranda was sixteen when she moved from Michigan to New York City, sparked by a gig offering after she played the “Anti-Hoot” open mic at Sidewalk Cafe — a tradition known for hosting acts like Beck, Regina Spektor and the Moldy Peaches before their respective rises to fame — despite only having written a few songs. It was also an escape path for a young woman coming out as gay in a strict religious household. Miranda went on to release her Kanye-approved debut The Magician’s Secret Library in 2010 and, this year, her self-titled sophomore effort, which addresses a feeling of otherness in a way that encourages self-acceptance. She opens for San Fermin at the Bowery Ballroom on December 18. – Dacey Orr

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You Concert Series
Beacon Theatre

8 p.m., $59.50-$255

No holiday is complete without perusing the storefronts on Fifth Avenue, drinking something pumpkin-spiced and listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” With 14 million copies sold (and counting), the 1994 holiday classic still rings in heartache every season. The multi-octave superstar returns to the Beacon Theatre to belt out this seasonal hit and other holiday carols for All I Want For Christmas Is You: A Night of Joy & Festivity. Her second residency at the venue, the diva performs holiday staples and her own festive songs from the best-selling Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas II You, like “O Holy Night” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home.” Expect Mariah’s trademark diva flair, several ensemble changes and that famous whistle register. Our music Editor, Hilary Hughes, has been hitting every single one of these performances, so catch up with her dispatches here. — Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Terminal 5
7 p.m., $35
The past ten years have been a steady crescendo for British rockers Foals, who went from minimalist-leaning early singles “Hummer” and “Mathletics” to the momentous, crashing cacophony that characterizes their latest release, What Went Down. Now selling out huge venues like Terminal 5 and dominating the festival circuit, they’ve oft been cited as one of the UK’s best touring bands, with frontman Yannis Philippakis frequently performing daring on-stage antics. Through it all, the subject matter of Foals’ best work has remained consistently cerebral, making them one of those rare acts with both depth and viscera to spare. Indie rockers and British brethren Circa Waves open the show. – Lindsey Rhoades

Saturday 12/19

Royal Trux
Webster Hall
7 p.m., $25
Following a very public dalliance with hard drugs and a band-ending dissolution of the romantic relationship that fueled much of their work, it seemed like Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty would never get Royal Trux back together again. But when it comes to unlikely band reunions, one should never say never. Hagerty and Herrema played a show at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California last August, scheduling just one other date; luckily, it happens to be in NYC at Webster Hall. It’s impossible to know whether the set will lean toward the deranged experimentation of 1990’s ground-breaking double-LP Twin Infinitives or the more straightforward sound of the untitled “skulls” album that followed. They might also revisit the throwback garage-psych that populated their final LP Pound for Pound in 2000. Or they could play feedback for two hours. No matter which route they take, fans are not likely to have an experience like this for a long, long time. – Lindsey Rhoades

The Stone
8 p.m., $15
Electronic experimentalist Chuck Bettis continues his residency at the Stone through the end of December (with an additional date scheduled for January), collaborating with some of the biggest names making noise in the niche world of drone music. On Saturday, he’ll team with Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt, two manipulators of playful glitch who perform as duo Matmos. Though its been a while since Matmos released a record (the last was 2013’s The Marriage of True Minds, based on parapsychological experiments with sensory deprivation), they recently announced that Ultimate Care II will drop in 2016. The record manipulates sounds recorded in their basement – mainly of their Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine – for the span of one 38-minute long track. But don’t hold your breath for a preview of that material: Matmos excel at original collaborations, having performed with Terry Riley, So Percussion, Kronos Quartet, Björk, and countless others. There’s no telling what they might come up with for their appearance with Bettis, and the surprises don’t end there. There’s also an unannounced special guest scheduled to go on at 10 p.m., replacing Big Blood who unfortunately had to bow out. – Lindsey Rhoades

Piaf: A Centennial Celebration
Town Hall
7:30, $55-$200
How can any tribute match the impassioned artistry of Édith Piaf? On December 19, when Piaf: A Centennial Celebration marks what would’ve been the hundredth birthday of the Little Sparrow, the nine divas onstage at Town Hall will present a cross-section of musical theater, but they all share the same deep familiarity with and respect for France’s most beloved singer. Even amid an all-star cast that includes Broadway stars, cabaret legends, and Piaf aficianados like Christine Ebersole, Marilyn Maye, Vivian Reed, Little Annie, Molly Pope, Meow Meow and G Gay Marshall, the biggest get is undoubtedly Elaine Paige, revered in London as the “first lady of British theater.” Each vocalist has a unique connection to (and take on) Piaf’s work, making the evening a celebration of the French chanteuse without focusing on the tragedy that befell her. – Steve Weinstein

The Yule Ball
The Bell House
5 p.m., $20
If the fact that ABC Family annually airs the Harry Potter series during its 25 Days of Christmas celebration is any indication, the epic tale of a boy wizard and his friends is essentially a holiday movie, Christ motifs notwithstanding. The Bell House is paying homage to that reputation with a its very own Yule Ball, featuring the best in wizard wrock: Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, and Tonks and the Aurors, otherwise known as the Bands Who Lived. The night will also include a performance from viral puppet video troupe The Potter Puppet Pals, of “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape (Dumbledore!)” fame. Don your robes, grab your wand, and go ahead and start memorizing lyrics like “Christmas at Hogwarts/Is better than Christmas at the Dursley’s/Oh oh oh oh oh oh.” It’s nice to know that the Harry Potter series will never be gone, not as long as those that remain are loyal to it. – P. Claire Dodson


The Knitting Factory
7 p.m., $10-$12
While at Bard, Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce founded lo-fi punk duo PWR BTTM, finding just enough time between classes to record material for a proper demo, Cinderella Beauty Shop, and a split EP with Jawbreaker Reunion. On these releases, Hopkins plays guitar and sings while Bruce plays drums, though the two will often swap instruments and singing duties. That’s a trend they continued on their debut LP, Ugly Cherries, released in September. Settling in New York City after their graduation, the pair continued to hone a sound they call “queer punk.” Their sense of showmanship — they perform in drag, doused with glitter — in both their live shows and their creatively conceptualized videos has allowed PWR BTTM to move from an idea hashed out on a college campus into an outlet where they could express themselves and their sexuality, though their music continues to find an audience beyond the queer and D.I.Y. communities they inhabit. – Daniel Kohn

Guerilla Toss
8 p.m., FREE
Brooklyn-by-way of Boston dance punk outfit Guerilla Toss have had a phenomenal 2015, signing to DFA and releasing their Flood Dosed EP, a succinct 3-song collection that showcases the band in all its wonky revelry. More recently, they opened for Sleater-Kinney at Irving Plaza last week, no doubt catching that band’s attention with lead-singer Kassie Carlson’s similarly freewheeling vocal style. Consider this free show at Palisades on Saturday their victory lap, and get there early for an experimental noise set from Black Dice’s Eric Copeland. – Lindsey Rhoades

Jazz is Phish
Brooklyn Bowl
8 p.m., $15-$20
Formed by drummer Adam Chase and his guitarist brother Matthew, this seven-piece instrumental combo dedicated to swing-ifying the popular Vermont quartet’s line-up includes a couple of erstwhile Phish associates in former Sun Ra trumpeter Michael Ray and Giant Country Horns trombonist Don Glasgo. At its best, Phish’s music is complicated enough to challenge even its red-headed composer, so hearing these technically facile cats wrestle their way through the trampolining changes of say, “You Enjoy Myself,” should probably be worth a gander. – Richard Gehr

BAM Café
9:30 p.m., FREE
Fans of Flying Lotus and Madlib will appreciate the vintage-sounding beats of producer and multi-instrumentalist Anu-Sun, whose strong jazz lineage permeates every smooth note. He’ll be at BAM for a free show as part of the institution’s BamCafé Live series, performing in the bar and lounge area in the Peter Jay Sharp building. His 2010 concept album, The Adventures of Mr. Las Vegas, reps his hometown hard, recasting the stereotypical lounge singer as a skilled MC via his well-balanced blend of hip-hop and neo-soul. His recent tribute to Trayvon Martin, “#WhenThereIsNoSun,” samples a Sun-Ra song of the same name and acts as a heart-rending reminder that #BlackLivesMatter. – Lindsey Rhoades

Sunday 12/20
Saint Vitus
8 p.m., $30
Metal, as a genre, seems pretty preoccupied with death and darkness. But when their tour van plummeted thirty feet from a viaduct, those cliches morphed into reality for Baroness, hitting a little too close to home. That brush with real, actual death signaled shifts in the very fabric of the band as longtime members departed and were replaced by newcomers. The sonic qualities of Baroness changed, too, straying from melodic metal and into arena rock territory, a tendency they’ve long flirted with. To help hone that sound, the band brought in Dave Fridmann as album producer for their latest, Purple. The subject matter is, as one might expect, dark. Frontman John Baizley chronicles the accident and its aftermath with unflinching honesty. Needless to say, the small club tour they’re on to support the record is one part physical therapy and two parts deafening emotional catharsis, and needless to say is selling out in many a city (including ours; check secondary markets for tickets). As a special treat for New Yorkers, Baroness will do an in-store at Rough Trade NYC on Sunday afternoon before slaying at Saint Vitus later that evening. – Lindsey Rhoades

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