New York’s Hardest-Working Bands Put In Overtime for the Best Shows This Weekend


On Saturday, a big music blog hosts a showcase of six bands who each played over 25 gigs in NYC last year (the headliner played 43). It’s proof of what we already know: musicians in this town work themselves to the bone, even on the weekends. So, with temperatures nearing or passing 50° all three days, there’s no excuse not to get out of the house and show these tireless folks some well-deserved love. Give them your high-fives, your applause, your huddled bodies yearning to dance free.

Friday, 1/8
Air Waves
Mercury Lounge
7:30 p.m., $10

Air Waves are a band that pulls you close in to listen. Their dreamy, meandering music offers plenty of space to melt into, thanks in large part to singer, songwriter and guitarist Nicole Schneit, whose voice is airy but rough enough around the edges to ground all the fluttery synths and slide guitars. She shines particularly on the quiet tracks from Air Waves’ latest album Parting Glances. On “Touch of Light” she sinks into an unnerving, low snarl; as she sings “I’m burning up my love/I’m hanging with the angels as you start to cry” amongst the slow-burn chaos of “Thunder,” it’s hard to tell if her sinister persona is reaching to her beloved down from heaven or up from hell. This warmup for her group’s month-long European tour gets support from Grooms, who also have a spaced-out feel and ominous lyrics, but pair them with a hard edge that sometimes dabbles in mathematical rhythms. – Zoë Leverant

Russian Circles
Saint Vitus
8 p.m., $20

Chicago post-rockers Russian Circles have built a sterling reputation as a live act based on their ability to take already epic instrumental numbers and build them out with ever-more intricate layers, loops, and samples, honing their sound in early on by supporting the greats of their ilk, like Boris, Isis, and Minus the Bear. Now that they’re headlining shows and prepping for a 2016 follow-up to 2013’s Memorial, their onstage precision is unparalleled and found the perfect balance between dark, heavy moments and evocative, sweeping beauty. Their two Saint Vitus gigs (this one and January 9) are sold out, but tickets may be available through secondary markets. Cloakroom and Wildhoney open both nights. – Lindsey Rhoades

The Teen Age
IDIO Gallery
8 p.m., $5

This Brooklyn four-piece calls itself “doo-wop garage,” a description that doesn’t feel quite right: They’ve got the fuzzy noise, sure, but their sunny rock swings more than it sways. Perhaps they don’t want to admit that they’re something of a pop band. They should. The Teen Age are good at what they do, placing soaring choruses and earworm guitar lines in all the right places, making catchy tracks that pay homage to their eponym without careening into immaturity. Their lyrics pace familiar territory about love and a longing for something more, a reminder that adulthood doesn’t mean escape or sudden resolution — just, often, better music. Lest audiences feel like they’re regressing, they can just look on the walls of IDIO Gallery, where art pulls things back into the grownup realm. – Zoë LeverantSaturday, 1/9
8 p.m., $10

Fiercely DIY super-promoter Colonel Presents continues its stellar streak with this lineup headlined by psych-rock juggernaut Oneida. These Brooklyn stalwarts — led by core members Kid Millions, Bobby Matador and Hanoi Jane — have been mostly M.I.A. recording-wise since 2012’s minimalist drone-fest A List of the Burning Mountains, but leading into 2016 their profile is back on the up and up after launching a mini-comeback with their latest EP. The sprawling and sonically deep noisescapes of Positions prove they’re still pioneers of trip-heavy psychedelia dirges and marathon organ-drenched jams. Setting the stage is the return of fuzz-popheads Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk, ex-Parts & Labor’er Dan Friel, and folk droners the Big Ship. – Brad Cohan

Oh My Rockness Presents: The Hardest Working Bands of NYC
Baby’s All Right
4 p.m., $15Every December, concert bible Oh My Rockness determines which New York bands on their radar played the most shows in that year and dubs them the Hardest Working Bands of NYC. This showcase highlights six members of the class of 2015, with the No. 1 hardest-working band Pill in the headlining slot. Joining their meandering post-punk is a cross section of the Brooklyn scene, including Eighties synthpoppers Future Punx, noise artist Dreamcrusher, hazy bedroom rockers Gingerlys, and Vomitface, whose name belies the melodic tendencies of their metal-tinged punk anthems. Some, like Pill, are growing popular enough that they may spend too much time touring to qualify for the 2016 list. Others seem destined to stick around and nurture their status as hometown heroes. New York is lucky to have hosted all of them so amply in the last year, and even more lucky to get them in one place for an afternoon. – Zoë Leverant

Such Hounds
Shea Stadium
8 p.m., $8

If Julian Casablancas had grown up in Tennessee in a rock-worshiping family, his band probably would have sounded something like Such Hounds. This Brooklyn four-piece draws on just about every genre of American music in their hard-hitting anthems. Blues comes through lyrically, most songs covering drinking, traveling, and the intertwined relationship of both. Then there’s Matt Martin’s drawling voice, spread broadly over big guitar riffs on choruses and tight licks the rest of the time, L.A. punk meeting Southern classic rock and getting along surprisingly well. Country twang comes out in full force earlier in the night thanks to Winstons, an actually-Southern duo formed in Virginia whose ragged garage is both charming and exhilarating — as is lead singer Lou Nutting, who looks like Casablancas and plays the harmonica like Dylan. Brooklyn, not Alabama, is sweet home here, but still — how ’bout a swig of that whiskey? – Zoë Leverant


Mercury Lounge

10:30 p.m., $10

Yeah, yeah, it’s hard to stay up late for a show, but this lineup is two straight hours of bracing energy injection impossible to snooze on. Last year Honduras told an interviewer that they want to play “the modern CBGBs” and while the Mercury Lounge certainly isn’t that, the band has been a fixture on the Brooklyn DIY circuit, gracing the stages of almost every beloved but now-shuttered venue in the borough. Mercury gives them a chance to show off the precision they use to build their walls of noise, which are best when the band allows them into an off-kilter, slightly unhinged place, as happens often on their latest album Rituals. It would be a mistake to miss openers the Beverleys, three Canadians who may beat Honduras at their own game before long: They’re loud, raw, and aggressive, a sense of complete abandon screaming through every one of their tracks. Dancing shoes highly recommended. – Zoë Leverant

Sunday, 1/10
A Tribute to Lou Reed
Manhattan Inn
8:30 p.m., $12

Last month, Greenpoint piano bar Manhattan Inn enlisted Brooklyn indie band TEEN to curate a great Joni Mitchell tribute show, with Jen Goma, Jen Wasser, and more covering the folk singer’s classics. So while their Tribute to Lou Reed on Saturday evening isn’t exactly a novel one, the formula for the evening has been proven and should be just as fun. This time around, there’s an entirely new line-up that features Sinkane, Mirah, Invisible Familiars, Your 33 Black Angels, Pencil, Cassandra Jenkins with Sam Owens, and Jolie Holland performing the late Velvet Underground frontman’s work. With acclaimed solo records like Berlin and Transformer also to his credit, it will be interesting to see which songs these seasoned musicians choose to cover. – Lindsey Rhoades