Bowie, A$AP Yams, and Other Geniuses Remembered in This Week’s Best NYC Shows


Just like that, winter seems to have arrived: A sorta-sticking snow dusting presages more flurries throughout the week and a serious downpour by Friday morning. But, spoiled as we are by the unseasonably warm weather, this is small potatoes — unlike the substantial lineup of shows for the first half of the week, all of which are well worth bundling up to go see. From an A$AP Yams tribute to the beginning of a residency featuring the jazz ensemble behind Blackstar to new music pioneers Wet Ink Ensemble paying tribute to thankfully-living legend Anthony Braxton, this week offers plenty.

Yams Day
Terminal 5

A$AP Mob mastermind and producer A$AP Yams, né Steven Rodriguez, died a year ago today, leaving behind a remarkable group of young NYC rappers committed to their collective motto: “Always Strive and Prosper.” Every member of the crew acknowledges that, without Yams’ vision, much of the most popular hip-hop of the past ten years would never have made it out of New York, much less become an international force that put A$APs Ferg and Rocky at the top of the charts. This commemorative concert — intended to become a yearly tradition — boasts a headlining set from A$AP Rocky and support from other Mob performers, plus affiliated acts that owe a great deal to the Mob’s championing of local talent. The show is organized by Yams’ mom, who, according to Ferg, just wants to remember her son’s exceptional talents alongside the friends and fans who loved him. The show is sold out, but tickets are available on the secondary market. — Zoë Leverant

Carrie Rodriguez
Joe’s Pub
6 p.m., $20

Austin-based songwriter Carrie Rodriguez took inspiration for her new album, Lola, from Forties recordings of her San Antonio–born great-aunt Eva Garza, a noted singer in her day. The bilingual record presents a collection of ranchera-inspired originals by Rodriguez in English, Spanish, and even Spanglish, plus some covers of her favorite Mexican composers. Vocalists Raul Malo and Gina Chavez and Grammy Award–winning bajo sexto player Max Baca lend their considerable chops to the record. For this show, Rodriguez brings along two members of her band the Sacred Hearts: Luke Jacobs on pedal steel and guitars and Brannen Temple on drums and other percussion. — Linda Laban

Majical Cloudz
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $5–$18

While on tour in support of Are You Alone?, the follow-up to breakout LP Impersonator, Montreal minimalist duo Majical Cloudz released a surprise five-track EP called Wait & See. The tracks were album outtakes, but they harbor the emotional intensity and atmospheric electronics that made Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto household names in indie circles. Though the band’s stripped-down, lo-fi synth confessionals are awfully intimate for the larger stages they now play, remember: They opened for Lorde on her 2014 arena tour and consistently wowed each night. Welsh’s magnetic, fervent persona can easily make the Music Hall of Williamsburg feel as small as one’s own living room. — Lindsey Rhoades

Donny McCaslin
Village Vanguard
8:30 p.m., $30

The gut-punch of David Bowie’s new album abruptly turning into his last has been hard to take, leaving almost everyone reeling from the loss. We have Donny McCaslin and the bulk of his current foursome to thank for the backbone of Blackstar, and with the group’s agility, free thinking, and deep musicianship, it’s easy to hear why the late genius chose them to help close out his catalog. McCaslin’s been remarkable for a long time, and 2015 joint Fast Future signaled a shift toward the kind of cinematic funk that squeezes tension into every measure of a performance. On top rides the boss, surfing the beats with that mighty tenor and aiming for the spot where frenzy reaps lots of visceral rewards and aggression is forever top dog. Keep an ear on the way keybster Jason Lindner casts insightful hues on all the action. This run at the Vanguard continues through January 24. — Jim Macnie

Portrait: Anthony Braxton
National Sawdust
9:30 p.m., $25
Leading new-music performance group the Wet Ink Ensemble present the latest installment in their Portraits series, which dedicates a night to the works of a composer the group considers essential. This edition celebrates pioneering saxophonist Anthony Braxton. (Indie- and math-rock fans may recognize his last name: His son is Tyondai Braxton, formerly of Battles.) For nearly fifty years, Braxton has ventured into uncharted musical territory, making work that defies genre. Wet Ink aim to highlight the full breadth of his oeuvre, from his chamber-influenced early works through his later experimentation with electronics, all while underlining his interest in mysticism and its influence on the creative process. First-time listeners will enjoy the easy entry point into Braxton’s formidable catalog, while longtime fans can thank Wet Ink for breathing new life into familiar compositions. — Zoë Leverant<br

The Go! Team
Brooklyn Bowl
8 p.m., $16–$18

In 2005, Ian Parton recording project the Go! Team gave indie rock a much-needed shot in the arm with their Mercury Prize–nominated Thunder, Lightning, Strike. Blending chanted choruses, sunny samples, guitar feedback, and toy instruments, Parton practically invented a genre, and in many ways, last year’s The Scene Between is a return to innovative form. Parton hand-picked vocalists (like Brooklyn’s own Emily Reo, an African gospel choir, and a vocal trio from Atlanta) based on their relative obscurity to bring his solo compositions to life, and his leanings toward grandiose, ecstatic pop shine so bright you practically need to wear shades while listening. French art-rockers Glockabelle, whose bandleader Annabelle Cazes guested on Scene track “Catch Me on the Rebound,” open the show. — Lindsey Rhoades

Julien Baker
Mercury Lounge
6:30 p.m., $14

A re-release this year of her debut album, Sprained Ankle, drew rave reviews and landed Julien Baker on many Best of 2015 lists. It’s easy to see why: This devastating and intensely vulnerable record goes straight for the heart, and it’s made irresistibly inviting by Baker’s haunting voice and spare arrangements. Her songs are universal in their raw feeling, and her willingness to share her doubts, anger, and sadness and — in the midst of all of it — the moments when she finds grace has quickly endeared her to listeners. People are hungry for these kinds of songs, the kind without posturing, songs so clearly written for the sake of writing them, without any consideration of hitting it big or finding their author’s face on magazine covers. Tickets to this show and another on January 25 at Rough Trade are sold out but available on the secondary market. — Corey Beasley

Miami Horror
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $20

Despite the name, Miami Horror are neither from the Sunshine State nor particularly spooky-sounding. Rather, the Melbourne (again, that’s Australia, not Florida) band, which started as the solo project of Benjamin Plant in 2007, take their cues from Eighties dance floors pumping blissful synthpop, as evidenced on their funk-tinted sophomore album, All Possible Futures. The record debuted last April but, being from Down Under, it took them a while to get a U.S. support tour under way. They make two New York stops on their trip, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom. Though the latter show has sold out, tickets are available on the secondary market. Brooklyn’s MOTHXR (fronted by Gossip Girl himself, Penn Badgley) and Power Slung DJs open. — Jill Menze </br