The best NYC concerts and music festivals: Further ahead
Grab your tickets early for Alt-J, Neil Diamond, Belle and Sebastian and more
Photograph: Danny Payne
U.K. vets Napalm Death, who helped establish the grindcore subgenre with seminal statements such as 1987's Scum, have proven remarkably durable. No original members remain, but the current lineup—more or less intact since the early ’90s—has evolved into one of the underground's finest live acts. The band is joined by proggy Canadian vets Voivoid, coming off last year's return to form Target Earth, for this tour dubbed "Through Space and Grind." Opening are death metal outfit Exhumed, punk metal throwbacks Iron Reagan and PA's Black Crown Initiate.
Los Angeles DIY pop king Ariel Pink promotes his latest weirdo, lo-fi disc, Pom Pom. With the album, Pink drops the Haunted Graffiti moniker used for his last two excellent records; the resulting LP is more raw and wiry, like a Russ Meyer romp set to four-track.
A mysteriously unmarked 7" (containing a heretofore unknown song) in Sleater-Kinney's recent career-spanning box set was all it took to get the blogosphere buzzing with reunion rumors, and days later, it was official—the band's back. The riot-grrrl torchbearers and indie-rock luminaries released their eighth LP, No Cities to Love, in January, their first in 10 years, and are playing a slew of 2015 dates, including this big one at T5. While the gig is as good as sold-out, we're keeping an eye out for more dates to be announced.
Unlike many of its old-school death-metal contemporaries, Behemoth is having a successful second act: As demonstrated on their scathing comeback disc, The Satanist, the band is now faster, heavier and more ferociously ambitious than ever. Here they coheadline with Buffalo death-metalers Cannibal Corpse, who are riding high in the wake of this year's brutal, A Skeletal Domain. Swedish groups Aeon and Tribulation support.
Boston's Dropkick Murphys play a besotted blend of lunkheaded but stirring Irish-influenced pub rock, as on their 2013 disc, Signed and Sealed in Blood. Live, they're a riot (sometimes quite literally).
Pop-soul singer Meghan Trainor started behind the scenes in the music business, penning tracks for Rascall Flatts and Disney star Sabrina Carpenter before "bringing booty back," with her chart-dominating 2013 breakthrough, "All About That Bass." The size-savvy singer stops at Irving Plaza on the heels of her latest single, "Lips Are Movin'," and her major label debut, Title.
While we still don't think that California's Cold War Kids have yet topped their anthem "Hang Me Up to Dry," the group keeps chugging along. The band plays this T5 gig supporting its latest disc, Hold My Home.
Dublin singer-songwriter Hozier (real name Andrew Hozier-Byrne) has been making music for a number of years, but it was his gripping, blues-brushed 2013 tune "Take Me to Church" that ignited the internet. Things are happening pretty fast for the young singer, who recently played some sold-out Irving Plaza shows and now moves up to the Hammerstein. Catch him now and say you were there at the beginning (or close to it).
On his recent Rick Rubin–helmed albums, including his latest, Melody Road, Neil Diamond stripped away the schmaltzy layers that he accumulated over the decades, to fine effect. Though he's touring in support of that album, we're willing to bet that the singer may favor a more hits-based act at this show. Though Diamond has left the sequined shirts behind, don't bet on a fully austere Neil: to completely purge Neil Diamond of kitsch would be to steal his soul.
Leeds, England–based quartet Alt-J traffics in a distinct sound, combining clever songwriting and colorful, jazzy instrumentation with world beats and skittering drops for a quirky brand of alt pop. The band's Mercury Prize–winning debut, An Awesome Wave, made a big splash in 2012, and now the group is back with a sophomore effort, This Is All Yours.
Since George Lewis Jr. introduced himself to the public as north Brooklyn's one-man laptop act Twin Shadow, he's added a live band to the fray and made for some kind of indie-Prince, slick-dance-ballad endeavor—which is to say that it's awesome. There's a new full-length in the works, so be on the lookout for sparkly new jams.
Portland, OR's Decemberists attract a nerdily passionate following thanks to their knowing (and, to some, pretentious) indie antiquarianism. The band hits the road again after three years, supporting its latest album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World—and we have to say, the ornate Beacon Theatre is the perfect venue for the show. Opening is the excellent Toronto indie-pop crew Alvvays, whose self-titled debut album is one of 2014's best.
The quirky Chicago alt-rock band—more famous for its music videos than for its actual music—has a new album, Hungry Ghosts, and, yes, a trippy, optical-illusion–laden video for the single “The Writing’s on the Wall.” But are people actually into the band? This big T5 gig suggests so.
Between 1988 and 1996, Ride released four albums, all classics of the shoegaze era, and then broke up during Britpop's ascendency (which the band foreshadowed with a pop sensibility many of their peers lacked). Now, following in the footsteps of groups like Sleater-Kinney and fellow Creation Records vets Swervedriver, the band is back together and, as luck would have it, playing a huge reunion show at T5. As is usual with these big comeback gigs, it sold out crazy-fast, but we're keeping our eyes peeled for more dates to be announced.
- Critics choice
Extreme-metal bible Decibel is known for putting together great package tours, and it's unveiling another doozy this time around. Headlining are Swedish death-metal vets At the Gates, gigging on the heels of its long-awaited comeback disc, At War with Reality. And setting the stage are Massachusetts metalcore titans Converge, whose 2012 set, All We Love We Leave Behind, frankly blew our puny little minds, and the U.K.'s Vallenfyre, which features ATG drummer Adrian Erlandsson and players associated with renowned Brit crews Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.
Twee nation rejoice: Belle and Sebastian are coming to Radio City! Earlier this year, B&S singer Stuart Murdoch put out his directorial debut film, God Help the Girl, scored with the band’s music. Now Murdoch is refocusing his attention on the group that made him the envy of every wistful college student of the past two decades. Keep an eye on this gig—openers will be announced as the date approaches.
- Price band: 3/4
- Critics choice
It's safe to say that more kids dig Tony Bennett now than at any point in his 50-year career; chalk it up to overpopulation and shrewd collaborations like this one, with pop's reigning auteur, Lady Gaga. The duo's jazz-standards release, Cheek to Cheek, finds both performers in top form—we expect the same at these Radio City dates.
Taylor Swift has packed up and moved to NYC, and it looks like Nashville is right on her heels. FarmBorough, NYC’s first country-music festival, sets up camp at Randalls Island for three days of whiskey-drenched ditties about pickup trucks and heartbreak from top-flight acts like Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley.
T. Swift was always a little more Madonna than Miranda Lambert, so her decision to leave Nashville for NYC—and pop-country for plain old pop—isn't necessarily shocking. What is mind-blowing is the 24-year-old's latest album, 1989, which has broken sales records long held by Britney Spears and Eminem, something unfathomable in today's music world. The Spotify-averse Swifty celebrates her overwhelming success with this good-as-sold-out stadium gig in NJ. Get ready to "Shake It Off," people.
For two decades, Dave Grohl and his Foos have been America's greatest purveyors of fan-friendly radio rock. Is their output, including the much-hyped new Sonic Highways, blandly middle-of-the-road? Yep. But is it also good for a beer-hoisting night of neo-classic-rock sing-alongs? You bet it is. British grunge-blues types Royal Blood set the stage.
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