Critics’ picks: Best live music in NYC

Find this week's best live music events in New York City, as chosen by Time Out's critics.

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Gay Camp

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

[Note: This review is from the show's run at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival.] Christian Mansfield, Philip Mutz and Ken Urso (who collectively play all of the roles in Gay Camp) are adorable, boundlessly energetic and rarely less than hilarious in their delivery. Using only crude wigs and hastily changed shirts, the chameleonic trio morphs so completely into different characters that you may find yourself forgetting which actor played whom. Unfortunately, the material (cowritten by Mutz and Susan-Kate Heany) is unworthy of the performances. Set in a reprogramming camp for non–gender-conforming youths, the play recycles extremely tired tropes (gay men are scared of vaginas! Lesbians love Home Depot! John Travolta is a queer!) as it tells the story of a group of kids plotting a rebellion from the inside. There are so many Grindr references that the hook-up app surely paid for the mentions, and the word Santorum is tossed around like it's 2003. The show also makes light of gay reprogramming without ever alluding to how serious the subject can be: Administrators at the camp are portrayed as more wacky (and closeted) than dangerous. Still, thanks to charming actors and the comfort of familiar jokes, Gay Camp should leave much of its audience smiling on the way back to their favorite Hell's Kitchen bars. (Visit the FringeNYC Encore Series website for more information.)—Ethan LaCroix

  1. 61 Christopher St , at Seventh Ave South
  2. $18, advance $12, plus two-drink minimum
  3. Fri Apr 25
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Miley Cyrus + Icona Pop + Sky Ferreira

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

While some pegged Miley Cyrus as the black sheep of pop in 2013, the foam-finger-sporting, Terry Richardson–approved former Disney starlet seems to be having the last laugh. The media backlash that followed her twerktastic VMA performance quickly flamed out, only to be replaced by a chorus of "Leave Miley alone" pleas. Plus, the stupendous "Wrecking Ball" continues to live up to its title, laying waste on pop radio. Expect trashy sensory overload here, as Cyrus plays a trio of area gigs on her Bangerz tour, abetted by fellow edgy pop sensations Icona Pop and Sky Ferreira. (Prediction: If all three acts end up onstage together for an encore, Instagram will crash nightly.)

  1. Nassau Coliseum 1255 Hempstead Tpke, at Meadowbrook Pkwy
  2. Thu Apr 24
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Arias and Ratzke

  • Critics choice

Demimonde demigod Joey Arias has entertained and scandalized the club world for decades with his fetish-drag getups, extravagant charisma formidable vocals. Now he joins Dutch-German pop cabaret star Sven Ratzke to take Joe's Pub by Sturm.

  1. Joe's Pub at the Public Theater 425 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
  2. Sun Apr 27
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Chaos Bodies

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Time Out New York’s March 6 package on rising local music acts featured an odd band out—imposing experi-metal duo Psalm Zero. Consisting of Andrew Hock (of metallic proggers Castevet) and Charlie Looker (formerly of avant-pop eclectics Extra Life), the twosome deconstructs the metal blueprint on its jagged yet melodic debut, The Drain (Profound Lore). Now, in conjunction with crucial Queens DIY spot Trans-Pecos, Hock and Looker have expanded their vision by booking a monthly series they call Chaos Bodies (in honor of the Drain tune “Chaos Body”). “This series is really just about booking who we’re seriously into musically and who we’re friends with,” says Looker. “We’re not trying to reach out to people whose music we’re lukewarm about just to broaden the series’s audience. The shows are deep just because the bands are deep, and we run with deep people.” Recent lineups featuring avant-rock luminaries Kayo Dot and Epistasis, and dark dronesmiths Oneirogen and New Firmament, illustrate his point. This week, Hock and Looker present yet another stellar bill that showcases their outré aesthetic. On hand will be Mick Barr, symphonically shredding and screaming bloody murder in his Ocrilim guise; spazz-core misfits Child Abuse; bruising noise-rockers Couch Slut; and outlier composer David Buddin’s sound-manipulating trio, Nebadon.—Brad Cohan

  1. Trans-Pecos 915 Wyckoff Ave, between Hancock and Weirfield Sts
  2. Sat Apr 26
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Bill Laswell Residency

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Bill Laswell’s output is sprawling and exceedingly tough to classify. One reason is that his bass work—stretching from ’80s gigs with avant-funk collective Material and punk-jazz brutalists Last Exit to more recent projects such as prog-fusion trio Blixt—is just a fraction of his sonic saga. Laswell has also made vital contributions as a catalyst and scene-builder. What other figure would’ve produced both Mick Jagger and Motörhead, teamed Yoko Ono with reggae rhythm kings Sly and Robbie, or ushered Herbie Hancock into the hip-hop era? During Laswell’s upcoming Stone residency, he renews old associations and forges new bonds, collaborating with John Zorn (at an Apr 19 show that precedes the residency proper), Milford Graves and Wadada Leo Smith (Apr 22 at 8 and 10pm, respectively), Bernie Worrell (Apr 26) and others. See thestonenyc.com for the complete schedule.

  1. The Stone Ave C, at 2nd St
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sun Apr 27
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K'naan

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Somalia native K'Naan is all about delivering politically charged lyrics with knifelike precision. He expressed disappointment in the poppy direction of his last LP, 2012's Country, God or the Girl, so expect to hear new material that gets back to his old ways—namely dense, heady rhymes over Afro-hip-hop beats.

  1. Joe's Pub at the Public Theater 425 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
  2. Sat Apr 26
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Pet Shop Boys

  • Critics choice

U.K. synth-pop icons the Pet Shop Boys have been frequenting NYC since 1983, when they recorded their worldwide smash "West End Girls" with producer Bobby Orlando. The beloved duo continues its run behind its 12th studio album, Electric, produced by pop genius Stuart Price (who cowrote and produced Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor).

  1. Terminal 5 610 W 56th St, at Eleventh Ave
  2. Sat Apr 26
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The Bad Plus

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Once known mainly as the quirky trio that made its name covering rock and pop tunes, the Bad Plus now comes off as the consummate contemporary jazz combo, by turns cerebral, visceral and disarmingly emotive. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King boast a rare magnetism that transcends genre, even when the band undertakes something as outre as Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring, on its latest CD. Here, the trio digs into its increasingly deep back catalog during a six-night run.

  1. Jazz Standard 116 E 27th St, between Park Ave South and Lexington Ave
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sun Apr 27
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Future Islands + Ed Schrader's Music Beat + Chiffon

  • Critics choice

For all that the music industry has changed in the 50 years since the Beatles hit Ed Sullivan, a well-timed TV appearance can still work wonders for an up-and-coming band. Consider a March Late Show with David Letterman performance by Future Islands. Letterman’s own atypically giddy reaction (“I’ll take all that you got!”) only confirmed the obvious: This eccentric Baltimore synth-pop crew rose to the occasion and destroyed. Frontman Samuel Herring air-punched and pounded his chest as he belted the soaring chorus to new single “Seasons”; he gazed into the crowd with a mixture of wistfulness and conviction; and during the final line, he let out a gravelly, subhuman roar. All that was missing was the proverbial mike drop. For Letterman and other newbies, the performance must’ve seemed meteoric. But for fans of the Baltimore-via–Greenville, North Carolina, trio, it was merely further proof that this band is—or, more accurately, was—the best-kept secret in indie rock. After touring tirelessly and issuing two well-received LPs on Thrill Jockey, Herring, keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and bassist William Cashion ascend to the bigger leagues this year with Singles, their debut for the storied 4AD imprint. Opener “Seasons” is a leadoff home run, but the album has extraordinary staying power. Danceable tracks like “Spirit” and “A Dream of You and Me” stick to the Future Islands M.O.—marrying Welmers’s lush, retro-but-not-kitsch synths to Cashion’s effortlessly stylish motifs and Herring’s

  1. Webster Hall 125 E 11th St, between Third and Fourth Aves
  2. Wed Apr 30
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Kurt Rosenwinkel

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel is one of the most quietly solid and supportive team players on the scene, and a formidable leader whose phenomenal chops are seductive rather than overbearing. Here, he turns up for a roomy run with pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Orlando LeFleming and drummer Kendrick Scott (with Allan Mednard subbing on Apr 23).

  1. Village Vanguard 178 Seventh Ave South, at 11th St
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sun Apr 27
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NYC Concerts
NYC Concerts

Australia's HIATUS KAIYOTE play Brooklyn's Knitting Factory on 8/12. Should be an awesome outing. Knitting Factory never disappoints!

Robert
Robert

Jillette Johnson hits Pianos on thursday, 8/8!