The Best NYC Shows This Week: Daniel Johnston, the National, Solange


This week, the New Yorker Festival brings some of music’s greatest talents to the city for a premier crop of shows and conversations. Some of our favorite events include Carly Rae Jepsen and Blood Orange, who previously worked together on a glimmering song off Jepsen’s last album. If that doesn’t float your boat, check out Cigarettes After Sex, a chilled-out dreampop act who will give you visions of no less than Mazzy Star.

Solange, Earl Sweatshirt, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Chassol
Radio City Music Hall
8 p.m., $39.50–$92.50

It’s been almost a year since Solange released her earth-shattering masterpiece A Seat at the Table, and today it feels fresher and more relevant than ever. Over 21 tracks, Solange took listeners on a journey through sublime r&b, lectures on race in America, distorted pop songs, and contemplative instrumental pieces. She’ll play the album at two Radio City shows this week, complete with an immersive art experience choreographed and directed by Solange herself. Don’t miss this chance to see one of the most important artists working today. Also 10/3

Paramore, Best Coast
Radio City Music Hall
7:30 p.m., $79–$285

Over the past few years, Paramore’s fan base has expanded from teens with ripped fishnets and Manic Panic in their hair to include adults with sophisticated musical taste. The group’s most recent album, After Laughter, is a candy-coated kaleidoscope of Eighties pop influences, all led by singer Hayley Williams’s outsize personality and indomitable voice. Their music is as accessible and catchy as any much-loved radio tune. If you don’t like these songs, you must be trying really, really hard.

The National, Daughter
Forest Hills Stadium
6:30 p.m., $39.50–$83.50

It’s easy to know what to expect from the National: They make contemplative, sedate, gorgeous music about the grief and joy of being an adult in America. Over their first six albums, their sound remained extremely consistent — low-tempo indie rock with minimal instrumental flourishes — all guided by band leader Matt Berninger’s deep bass vocals. There’s still plenty of that on their new album, Sleep Well Beast, but it’s complemented by louder, more experimental noises of the sort that they haven’t used much before. This stadium show should find the band as energetic and cathartic as ever.

Carly Rae Jepsen
SIR Stage 37
10 p.m., $39

This New Yorker Festival show is probably Carly Rae fans’ best chance to see their idol in an intimate and sedate environment, rather than amid the raucous parties that her appearances usually inspire. Jepsen rose to fame after the release of her earworm “Call Me Maybe” in 2012, and in 2015 she released her tour-de-force Emotion, which delivered 54 minutes of pure pop bliss. On this night, the star will speak to New Yorker music writer Amanda Petrusich and perform a live set. It’s essentially impossible not to enjoy a Carly Rae Jepsen show, and this should be no exception.

Ambient Church
Windy & Carl, Chuck Johnson
First Unitarian Congregational Society
7 p.m., $25

Sometimes we all need a break. That’s what the Ambient Church series, which uses the First Unitarian Congregational Society as a music venue, accomplishes. Going to these shows provides a few hours of calm, soothing stillness amid the chaos of the world. For this edition, the Michigan-based couple Windy & Carl will perform their heartfelt ambient drone tunes, which sometimes feature intimate vocal accompaniment; also appearing will be Chuck Johnson, a composer from Oakland, California, whose gorgeous yawning swoons of guitar and synth sounds make time slow down.

Cigarettes After Sex
Bowery Ballroom
9 p.m., $20

Just when you thought you couldn’t hear a song by the xx one more time without screaming, Cigarettes After Sex have swooped in to fill that sultry downtempo void. The project, headed by Greg Gonzalez, released a self-titled album earlier this year that’s filled with melancholy, dreamy 21st-century sentiments of distance and disenchantment. As with the xx’s music, mood is paramount here, and it stays steady and seductive throughout the LP. Groove to it with your lover at Bowery Ballroom this week.

Blood Orange
Gramercy Theatre
10 p.m., $49

Devonté Hynes, who records under the name Blood Orange, is by far one of the most talented and interesting artists working in music today. From collaborations with pop artists like Carly Rae Jepsen to various experimental side projects, Hynes brings his left-field pop aesthetic to whatever he does. Last year’s Freetown Sound was on par with any album released in 2016 and, like Solange’s A Seat at the Table, put racism in America front and center while drawing on the deep well of American black music traditions. Hynes will speak with New Yorker writer Hua Hsu before playing a solo performance.

Alex Cameron, Jack Ladder
Rough Trade
8 p.m., $12

Australian singer Alex Cameron plays a sleazy, washed-up lounge singer on his records. In real life, who knows what he’s like. Cameron’s shtick has led to acts as extreme as putting on fake wrinkles to perform, but his second album, Forced Witness, outshone his silly persona. It’s wonderfully schmaltzy Eighties pop, along the lines of what Destroyer did on Kaputt and some of Twin Shadow’s sillier work. The album is a brilliant critique of the alpha-male caricature that is too often present in both pop music and Australian culture.

Daniel Johnston & Friends
Town Hall
8 p.m., $35–$65

Daniel Johnston has made music since the late Seventies, and now, at age 56, he’s embarked on what he says will be his final tour. Johnston, whose early work was characterized by its lo-fi production and straightforward emotional content, was pushed into mainstream consciousness by Kurt Cobain, who wore Johnston’s iconic Hi, How Are You album cover on a T-shirt. On this tour, Johnston will perform with members of bands like Wilco, Fugazi, and Built to Spill, who all praise his influence on their music. According to a recent New York Times article, Johnston isn’t in great shape these days, but this should nonetheless be a special night for anyone who feels a connection with this enigmatic artist.

8 p.m., $10–$12

Winter may sound like a slightly obvious band name, but it’s actually just the last name of Samira Winter, who heads this electropop project. Her buoyant recent single, “Jaded,” explored the contradictions of existing as an underpaid, overworked artist today and how that distress transmits to the entire scene in Los Angeles, where Winter lives. But don’t worry — even if her subject matter can be a downer, her music will make you feel uplifted.