The Best Concerts in New York This Week, 3/3/14


For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.


Monday, 3/3:

New York New Music Ensemble
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
8:00 p.m., $20
The needlessly intimidating and immensely rewarding British composer Harrison Birtwistle turns 80 this year, and the NYNME will celebrate with six works, including three US premieres. Titles such as Crescent Moon Over the Irrational, Fantasia Upon All the Notes, and The Axe Manual (for percussion and piano) suggest the dramatic and elemental sounds in store. — By Richard Gehr

Billy Stritch
7:00 p.m., $30-$54
Long a passionate believer in Cy Coleman’s passionate belief in jazz, Stritch jumps into the artist’s repertoire with “I’ve Got Your Number: the Jazz of Cy Coleman.” Yes, many theatergoers know him from his musicals (usually with Carolyn Leigh, Dorothy Fields, or Michael Stewart), but that’s not how he started out. Let’s hope he covers some early tunes the late man wrote with Joseph A. McCarthy, tune like “Why Try to Change Me Now,” which was recorded both by Fiona Apple and Frank Sinatra. — By David Finkle

Tuesday, 3/4:

Schoolboy Q
Best Buy Theater
8:00 p.m., $30-$35
Schoolboy Q hasn’t released an album in two years, but those two years have been the biggest of his career regardless. As 2012 ended, the A$AP Rocky-featuring “Hands on the Wheel” gave the L.A. rapper his first spins on New York radio. The following year, his “Collard Greens” and “Man of the Year” both became national hits, and his Macklemore collaboration, “White Walls,” exposed his raspy flow and dense, conflicted lyrics to an entirely new audience. Tonight, following the release of his long-awaited new LP, Oxymoron, said to be even darker than past affairs, he plays the Best Buy Theater with Tennessee’s Isaiah Rashad and Vince Staples, another Californian. — By Nick Murray

Wild Beasts
Music Hall of Williamsburg
9:00 p.m., $22/$25
It’s been a few years since Wild Beasts released the excellent Smother, and the Kendal, England four-piece are back with their fourth full-length, Present Tense, which is quite possibly their most streamlined effort to date. Recorded in London with producer and engineer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Imogen Heap), the ambitious album is heavy with the band’s signature psychic weight as vocalist Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto, divisive and ethereal as ever, floats above his band’s grumbling, ’80s- and ’90s-indebted synths. — By Harley Oliver Brown


Wednesday, 3/5:

‘Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History of Popular Music: The 1920s’
Jazz at Lincoln Center, Allen Room
8:30 p.m., $50-$85
Ticking toward a 2015 explosion, performance-art time bomb Taylor Mac continues workshopping his magnificently ambitious “24-Hour Concert of the History of Popular Music” with this American Songbook evening dedicated to tunes of the ’20s. A 2013 version included renditions of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and other bittersweet pre-Depression hits, all tucked into the story of conflicted couple Barry and Larry. Expect incisive and hilarious cultural commentary, potentially uncomfortable audience participation (e.g., the oldest man in the room coerced into a dance with the youngest woman), and yet another spectacular Machine Dazzle costume. A shamanic deconstructor, Mac uses cabaret and drag tropes to demystify and celebrate popular music. His work is discomforting, revealing, and ultimately liberating. — By Richard Gehr

Randy Graff
54 Below
9:30 p.m., $35-$45
In 1987 she sang “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Miserables with a dramatic intensity not since matched, neither on stage nor screen. Switching moods in 1990, she nailed the Tony for, among other things, the comic intensity of “You Can Always Count on Me.” Figure on getting her in both modes with this appearance: Billed as “from Canarsie,” she celebrates her home borough by focusing on songs written by fellow Brooklynites Betty Comden, Carole King, Barry Manilow, Harry Nilsson, and George Gershwin, whom many know as a Lower East Side/Riverside Drive kid. — By David Finkle

Thursday, 3/6:

Ted Stafford & Lorinda Lisitza
Don’t Tell Mama
7:00 p.m., $10
Although they come from different directions, these two discovered common ground in kinda-sorta country music, calling their symbiotic collaboration “The Ted & Lo Show.” Throughout, they mix the moving numbers with the comic and the solos with the duets. They deserve to break into the much bigger time, and whether they will could depend on the enthusiasm patrons spread around. Go do your bit. — By David Finkle

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