The Best NYC Shows This Week: Arca, Busdriver, Show Me The Body


Though many of us feel like there’s not much worth celebrating about America at the moment, there’s still plenty to do this extended Fourth of July weekend. From underground hip-hop shows to benefits for local nonprofits, there are a variety of ways to support and come together with this city’s amazing and diverse communities. These artists, and their ideas, are what really make America great.

Busdriver, Zeroh, Buttress, Warren Britt
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $11–$13

Los Angeles rapper Busdriver’s atmospheric beats and hyper-topical, neurotic rhymes position him solidly in the category of indie hip-hop, closest to peers like the genre hopper Why?, verbose wordsmiths like Aesop Rock, or experimental Afrofuturists like Shabazz Palaces. But Busdriver’s singular talent has always been his flow, which is just as rapid-fire and gymnastic as it was when he started recording nearly twenty years ago. Catch him at Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Bazaar on a lineup of similarly solid MCs.

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, Ani Cordero, Marc Ribot (Songs of Resistance Project)
Knockdown Center
3 p.m., $15

If the idea of celebrating America this July Fourth makes you feel ill, this party at Knockdown Center is where you should register your outrage. Featuring M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, an eight-piece band from Queens who channel the joyful music of multiple immigrant communities through Afrobeat; the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Ani Cordero; and the musician Mark Ribot’s Songs of Resistance project, the afternoon will be an occasion to celebrate the diversity and strength of this city and its communities. The concert is a benefit for Make the Road New York, a community-organizing nonprofit for Latinos in New York.

Arca and Jesse Kanda, Total Freedom (DJ)
Brooklyn Steel
8 p.m., $25–$28

The producer Alejandro Ghersi, known as Arca, gained notoriety thanks to his music’s chaotic and abrasive qualities, pop and club music rubbed up against the unknown. So it was a shock to hear his most recent album, which features baroque strings and Ghersi’s operatic vocals. But if you listen more closely, you’ll find that not much has changed — these relatively more traditional songs are undercut by industrial beats and ferried by ominous drones. If anything, by making his music more accessible, Arca has highlighted everything that makes his music so wonderfully unusual. At Brooklyn Steel, he’ll perform alongside his frequent collaborator, the visual artist and producer Jesse Kanda.

(Sandy) Alex G, Japanese Breakfast, Cende
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8:30 p.m., $16–$20

It’s hard to pin down what makes Alex Giannascoli’s music so appealing. Is it the simple pop melodies of songs like “Proud,” which, along with Giannascoli’s melancholy vocals, precisely recall singer-songwriters like Elliott Smith? Is it the intimacy with which he records, picking up imperfections in the instrumentation that make you feel like you’re listening to him perform in a friend’s living room? Or is it his versatility, the number of genres and sounds he’s willing to experiment with, from Auto-Tune to synthpop to emo? In any case, it’s hard to imagine the prolific young Philly artist leaving our collective consciousness anytime soon.

Show Me the Body, Fluct, Mike (of Slums), DJ Nobel
Secret Project Robot
9 p.m., $12–$15

The three-piece New York punk band Show Me the Body is both a throwback to times when DIY and hardcore were ascendant in the city and a glimpse into a future where punk melds with power electronics, avant-folk, and rap to create something that sounds totally new. Their most recent record, Corpus I, incorporates all these elements by drawing on a supporting cast of musicians rising in the New York DIY scene, from Princess Nokia to Cities Aviv. Somehow, it all works; particularly effective is their track featuring vocals from Eartheater and a scorching rap from Moor Mother. This is a band who knows how to elevate its peers.  

Paid in Full 30th Anniversary
Eric B. & Rakim
Apollo Theater
8 p.m., $70–$340

MCs Rakim and Eric B. will reunite at the legendary Apollo Theater this week to perform their classic 1987 album, Paid in Full, for its thirtieth anniversary. It’s incredible to look back on this album — which sounds as fresh today as it did then — and see its influence stretched out across decades of rappers, producers, and DJs. For old-school hip-hop heads, this night will be a pilgrimage.

Wolf Eyes, Jackie Lynn (Circuit Des Yeux), Dreamcrusher
Pioneer Works
8 p.m., $25

“Grand Ole Opera” is a new installation at the spacious Red Hook venue Pioneer Works. Created by the Tennessee artists Willie Stewart and Brent Stewart (incredibly, they’re not related), the piece is a twisted revival of Southern musical and spiritual aesthetics. “Within the exhibition, cinematic tableaus reveal a truck tuned to AM radio; bizarre trailer-homes containing surreal sculptural landscapes; a perpetually-burning sun projected under a revival tent,” Pioneer Works writes. While the installation is up, a variety of experimental performers will come through to make use of the space. This week, the progenitors of Trip Metal, the absurdly prolific noise rock band Wolf Eyes, will take the stage alongside frantic noise artist Dreamcrusher and Jackie Lynn of the baroque experimental group Circuit Des Yeux.

Theater of the Resist
The Mighty Third Rail, Davalois Fearon Dance, Zebra Katz
The Met Breuer
6 p.m., free with museum admission

Zebra Katz burst onto the underground hip-hop scene in 2012 with his single “Ima Read,” which, along with an evocative, ominous music video made for the rapper’s student thesis, nearly single-handedly created a new microgenre of dark, queer hip-hop that would later be reinvented by artists like Le1f and Mykki Blanco. Since then, Zebra Katz has flitted in and out of the spotlight, releasing only one album and a few tracks, including last year’s excellent “Marijuana.” But he’s always been worth paying attention to, and this night of political performance at the Met will give him a moment to shine alongside a dance company and a “hip-hop poetry trio.”

Nu Disco LIVE!
Body Language, French Horn Rebellion, Tommie Sunshine, Golden Pony, JD Samson
Lincoln Center, Damrosch Park
6 p.m., $17–$25

For decades, disco got a bad rap. After the infamous Disco Demolition Night in 1979, the mainstream consensus was that disco was dead. But over the following decades, contemporary artists and critics have corrected this misjudgment, pointing out how disco provided an outlet for marginalized young people and laid the groundwork for modern dance music and hip-hop. And there’s the reason disco was so popular in the first place — it’s just really fun. Head uptown to Lincoln Center to celebrate some of the modern acts who are carrying disco’s torch, and stick around afterward for a silent disco DJ’d by JD Samson and others.

Image courtesy Arca