Two very different Nineties legends play Williamsburg this week: Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah takes the stage at Brooklyn Bowl, while alt-rock sad sacks the Afghan Whigs will perform at Brooklyn Steel. There’s also an up-and-coming Chicago group: Ne-Hi, a garage-rock outfit with passion who channel their city’s thriving underground scene. Take your pick.
Mount Eerie, Loren Connors
8 p.m., $18–$20
Earlier this year, Phil Elverum, who has made music as Mount Eerie since 2003, released A Crow Looked at Me, a devastating and raw journey into the extreme grief that followed the death of his wife — and the mother of his now-two-year-old daughter — from cancer. Elverum has always been known for songs that are concise and poignant, but his eye has never turned to subject matter this intense and personal. On the album’s opener, “Real Death,” Elverum sings: “Death is real. Someone’s there and then they’re not. And it’s not for singing about. It’s not for making into art.” Yet, perhaps despite his best intentions, that’s exactly what he’s done here. His album is a treatise on one of life’s harshest truths, and it’s staggeringly honest and beautiful.
Ne-Hi, Honduras, Gymshorts
8 p.m., $10–$12
Since 2014, Chicago’s Ne-Hi have roamed the city’s basements and DIY spaces, playing their stripped-down garage rock with aplomb. With the release of its second album, Offers, this year, the group took its whole act up a notch. The album’s high-quality production emphasizes what makes Ne-Hi great: punchy vocals, simple yet effective riffs, just enough fuzz. They’ll take the stage at Bushwick stalwart Alphaville alongside locals Honduras, who play similarly energetic surf rock, and the Providence, Rhode Island–based stoner-punk goof-offs Gymshorts.
Blanck Mass, Egyptrixx
9 p.m., $12–$15
Benjamin John Power’s music has always existed in the underused space between dance, noise, and pop. With his main band, Fuck Buttons, that genre-merging chaos subsided a bit as the group evolved, leading it into territory close to arena rock. But his solo project, Blanck Mass, is as wild as ever. His newest album, World Eater, finds Power bouncing between industrial electronics, pure noise, and eerily transcendent pop. The album most resembles music by fellow noisepoppers Health and Dan Deacon, and, similar to those acts, what Power is doing here is endlessly fascinating and incredibly entertaining.
Ghostface Killah, Smoke DZA
11:30 p.m., $25
Earlier this year, hip-hop writer Jeff Weis reviewed Ghostface Killah’s most classic album, 1997’s Supreme Clientele, for Pitchfork. On that album, Ghostface and the Wu-Tang crew were at the very top of their game, churning out classic tracks with mystifying rhymes that redefined gangsta rap. Weiss writes: “This is Ghost, naturally ridiculous, the supreme smart dumb cat, the genius who embodies the innate contradictions of late American capitalism.… He is both yin and yang, not just from song to song, but syllable to syllable.” It’s hard to come up with a better summation of this era-defining artist. Catch him in the flesh alongside Smoke DZA, another towering figure from New York’s hip-hop past.
The Afghan Whigs, Har Mar Superstar
8 p.m., $35–$40
Unlike many alt-rockers of the Nineties, the Afghan Whigs were willing to lift styles from black genres, incorporating everything from blues to r&b into their acidic jams about horrifically failed relationships. Since its comeback in 2014, the band has further expanded its style to incorporate Seventies funk references and fleshed-out orchestral instrumentation. The group may not sound as raw and remorseless as it did on its classic albums, but there’s no lack of darkness on its most recent album, In Spades. Songs like “Arabian Heights” sprawl out over five minutes, feeling as epic and intense as any Interpol or Arcade Fire song — two groups it’s hard to imagine existing without the Whigs. Opening are Har Mar Superstar, a band of dancepop jokesters–turned–sincere crooners.
Steve Gunn, Julie Byrne, Myriam Gendron
8 p.m., $15–$17
There aren’t many indie acts that sound like Steve Gunn. The Brooklyn–based guitarist, singer, and songwriter takes inspiration from genres ranging from bluegrass and Americana to traditional Indian music and psych rock. Yet these varied influences fit together seamlessly on his rambling, expansive album Eyes on the Lines. The record, released last year, centers around travel, both metaphorical and literal. Gunn’s music can be cozy and familiar, but the musician always adds something that feels surprising. He’ll play along with the astonishing, crystalline-voiced singer-songwriter Julie Byrne.
Jessy Lanza (DJ), Juan Maclean (DJ), Seven Davis Jr, Psychic Twin, Mike Simonetti, Lovers, Mike Bloom, DJ Mickey Perez
The Vander-Ende Onderdonk House
2 p.m., $20–$30
For the second year, the solar-powered, all-green, and sustainable Variance Festival will come to Ridgewood’s charming relic Onderdonk House, the oldest Dutch colonial stone house in New York. The festival features DJ sets from dancepop artist Jessy Lanza and DFA’s Juan Maclean, along with live performances by Brooklyn dreamy electropop group Psychic Twin, techno star Mike Simonetti, and house producer Seven Davis Jr. This is one of your last chances of the season to soak in some tunes outdoors — don’t pass it up.
Nico Muhly and the Countertenor
7:30 p.m., $40
Nico Muhly is the classical muse of the indie world. Over the past decade, he’s collaborated with musicians from Sufjan Stevens to Anohni. Muhly’s gift lies in his flexible yet focused style of composition, which brings his unique touch to every project he works on. For this show at the Guggenheim, Muhly will perform pieces from a new commission based on an interpretation of the oldest song in the world. As with all his other projects, the results should be both unexpected and wonderful.
David Liebe Hart, Matthew Silver, Yucky Duster, the Johns
8 p.m., $12
David Liebe Hart is a puppeteer, stand-up comedian, actor, singer, visual artist, and self-described alien abductee. He’s best known for his performances on Adult Swim cult favorite Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, where he taught lessons about Christianity and parenthood, and detailed extraterrestrial experiences through puppetry and song. Whether he’s singing about avoiding pornography, his obsession with trains, or working with Betty White (he was actually on an episode of Golden Girls), he produces tracks that are full of passion and conviction. He’ll play with Brooklyn pop-punk favorites Yucky Duster at Sunnyvale.