Offbeat summer concerts

Write these extra-special NYC offerings into your summer planner now.

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DM Stith


92YTribeca; June 12
Littlefield; June 13
Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater; July 21
Bloomington, Indiana, songman DM Stith makes spooky, spindly music that conjures many spirits: His wavering voice recalls the (long-dead) Kentucky murder balladeer John Jacob Niles; skittering, paw-scratch drumbeats nod to Kid A, while tender orchestrations suggest a nocturnal Sufjan Stevens. But the sound Stith wove on his 2009 debut album, Heavy Ghost (released on Asthmatic Kitty), stood on its own, and won praise from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Bat for Lashes. (An album of remixes and covers is out now.) Magical and at times menacing, Stith’s music is utterly unsummery—unless you happen to spend yours in a cobwebby attic. But given that you’ve got an entire season of ice cream, beer and jumping around ahead, wouldn’t it be nice to start with something a little stranger and more delicate? —Sophie Harris


Eddy Current Suppression Ring


Cake Shop; June 18
Death by Audio; June 19
Melbourne quartet Eddy Current Suppression Ring formed on a lark—to play their office Christmas party!—and records in a frenzy. The band’s new album, Rush to Relax, took an alleged six hours to produce. Yet while the musicians retain a thirst for speed and fuzz familiar to garage-rock aficionados, their songs are surprisingly nuanced, arty and expansive, with bluntly poignant lyrics that belie singer Brendan Suppression’s sneering tone. While the band has grown in acclaim, it continues to play New York infrequently. After all, the flight from Melbourne to JFK lasts 21 hours—three and a half times what it takes to record an album.—Jay Ruttenberg

Buy music by Eddy Current Suppression Ring on iTunes


Alan Cumming


Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency June 22--26
Ultracharming Scottish actor Alan Cumming won a Tony as the perversely polymorphous MC in the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret, but until this year he had never done a nightclub set of his own. Not surprisingly, he’s a natural. The bright-eyed, bouncy-kneed performer plays fast and louche with the cabaret format, sprinkling sex and naughty words into his long comic stories, and putting a fresh interpretive spin on original material, as well as novelty songs and show tunes (including a gorgeous medley from Hedwig and the Angry Inch). The swanky Feinstein’s can sometimes seem uptight; what it has needed all along, it turns out, is a stiff swig of Scotch.—Adam Feldman

Buy music by Alan Cumming on iTunes


Charred Walls of the Damned


Gramercy Theatre; July 8
Even in a genre rife with bombast, the name Charred Walls of the Damned stands out as cartoonishly extreme: the kind of thing an adolescent metalhead would carve into a desk during study hall. Given that the band’s mastermind is Howard Stern Show writer Richard Christy (also an accomplished drummer, whose rsum includes work with the legendary Florida outfit Death), it’s quite possible that the humor is intentional. Over-the-top it may be, but the band’s recent self-titled debut is an exemplary fist-pumper that connects the dots between Iron Maiden--esque drama and death-metal aggression. Here Christy & Co. make their highly anticipated NYC debut.—Hank Shteamer

Buy music by Charred Walls of the Damned on iTunes


Tame Impala


Pianos; June 24
Glasslands Gallery; June 25
Though on paper Tame Impala is playing the undercard on MGMT’s national summer tour, the burgeoning Australian act looks up to no one, including the more famous Brooklyners. Peg the group’s upcoming full-length, Innerspeaker (out June 8 on Modular), a warm, fuzz-soaked tidal wave of melodic psych-rock, as one of the summer’s breakout records, then catch Tame Impala (sans MGMT) as it wraps up a stateside trek. Before long, the group will surely be commanding much larger venues with its spacey, dense rock atmospheres.—Corban Goble

Buy music by Tame Impala on iTunes

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