The best NYC concerts and music festivals in November
Julian Casablancas, alt-J, the New Pornographers and St. Lucia highlight our recommended NYC concerts this month
Photograph: Michael J. Chen
Coming off fantastic summer collaborations with the World's Freshest and Madlib, the Indiana native is bringing his gritty rhymes and dazzling flows to Brooklyn. If we're lucky, he'll show off some new material from his upcoming second album, Eastside Slim.
Over-the-top spectacle is part of metal's DNA, but when it comes to pure batshit bombast, BABYMETAL might just have everyone from Alice Cooper to Iron Maiden beat. This Japanese import juxtaposes the fizzy J-pop song-and-dance of three pixieish teens with mercilessly steroidal shred, raging pyrotechnics and camp-macabre chills. BABYMETAL’s NYC debut ought to fulfill your yearly WTF quota and then some.
The reigning hooligan king of indie pop, Mac DeMarco, peddles pouty, surreally stylized lo-fi tunage in support of a new LP, Salad Days. The impish outsider-lite-rocker has been busy on the local festival circuit recently, playing Northside and 4Knots this summer (not to mention a sold-out show at Webster Hall). In case you missed all three chances, here's your opportunity to catch the Canuck live.
Melissa Etheridge, the She-Mellencamp herself, supports a new album, the cleverly titled This Is M.E. She heads to the Town Hall to support the new LP and play the old favorites.
Stevie Wonder. Songs in the Key of Life. Madison Square Garden. Yeah, it's actually happening. Elder statesman of pop Wonder isn't usually the type to dwell on past glories, but hey, this time he is. You've read the best-of lists, and you know the tunes. Forget other artists who ride the nostalgia wave until it crashes—Wonder's treating only 12 cities to this tour through pop history.
Heat-seeking New Zealand songstress Kimbra is much more than the crystal-clear–voiced cameo artist on Gotye's 2011 viral hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know." As a follow-up to 2012's Vows, a heavily rhythmic jazz-and-soul-inflected pop concoction, the 24-year-old recently released The Golden Echo, which promises to earn her the stateside name recognition she enjoys at home.
Staking out fresh creative territory following the dissolution of both her artistic and romantic partnerships with Thurston Moore, ex–Sonic Youther Kim Gordon has promoted Body/Head—with Massachusetts noise/improv-scene fixture Bill Nace—from experimental side outlet to full-time gig. The blend of the pair’s six-string crackle and hiss with Gordon’s haunted moans scan as the sound of a mind, and maybe a heart, unraveling. Also on the bill are Wolf Eyes' Nate Young and avant-noiseman Steven Baczkowski.
Expect copious smooth-guy randiness and electrosoul thumpage as sure-fire hitmaker—and Justin Bieber spirit guide—Usher Raymond teases his eighth LP, UR, on the big stage at MSG. Sharing the bill is NOLA’s August Alsina, a young R&B singer that seems poised for big things.
Of all the weirdo guitar-driven indie outfits the '90s spat out, few have been as stylistically singular and influential as post-hardcore group the Dismemberment Plan, whose game-changing Emergency & I emotively spoke to worldly malaise with the wonkiest of melodies and oddest of time signatures. Re-formed groups often have little to prove to overeager fans or to themselves. Fortunately, last year's reunion album, Uncanney Valley—an ambitious, weird and slightly out of time collection—demonstrated that the group still has something novel to offer.
When considering London singer-songwriter FKA twigs (real name: Tahlia Barnett), one word immediately comes to mind: spellbinding. Whether it’s her creeping, sensual songs; the subtly discomfiting visuals accompanying them; or the languid, undulating onstage motion of the doe-eyed artist, a trained dancer, one thing is certain: It’s very difficult to break the trance. Her first EP surfaced in 2012, self-released and with each of its four tracks boasting a simple but compelling video. By the following year, FKA twigs had signed to esteemed British imprint Young Turks, home to the xx and fast-rising Drake collaborator Sampha, and had released her second EP, again with matching visuals. EP2 explored a newfound musical kinship with Brooklyn producer Arca, whose cavernous, glitched-out soundscapes were a natural fit for FKA twigs’s airy, minimalist songwriting. With her debut album expected to materialize this year, FKA twigs makes her inaugural New York appearances at this pair of shows. If she can bring to the stage even a fraction of the transporting effect of her records, the audience will be in for quite a trip.
Alvvays is on the up-and-up. The wistful Toronto indie-rock crew's much-lauded self-titled debut was released in July, providing a timeless feast for those jangle-loving guitar-pop purists who find themselves lost in a sea of EDM. Snag your tickets now—we predict that this is one of the smaller NYC stages Alvvays will be playing for a while.
Dream Police, a new side project of Brooklyn band the Men, plays fuzzed-out face melters that make the members' main project look tame by comparison. This show doubles as an album release for the group's first LP, Hypnotized.
Smooth, bequiffed Norwegian neosoulster Bernhoft is something of a one-man band, looping and layering his vocals and instrumentation. His live performances can be jaw-dropping—check out the video for "C'mon Talk," which has racked up millions of YouTube views. His songs are rock solid, and at this gig, you'll hear from his latest album, Islander.
Antithesis: Daniel Lanois + The Antlers + Tinariwen + Lonnie Holley | Brooklyn Masonic Temple; Nov 10
Brian Eno disciple, ambient pioneer and famed producer Daniel Lanois is releasing his latest hypnotic LP, Flesh and the Machine, this fall. Lanois brings his operatic soundscapes to the stage at Brooklyn Masonic Temple. Other guests include local indie-rock faves the Antlers, Malian Tuareg group Tinariwen and sculptor-painter Lonnie Holley.
Fast-rising British indie-pop trio London Grammar hits NYC with support from soulful electro-r&b songster Pete Lawrie Winfield, a.k.a. Until the Ribbon Breaks.
Irish singer-songwriter and perpetual raw nerve Damien Rice has gotten a lot of traction over the last decade with his longing, emotionally bare balladry. His latest LP, My Favorite Faded Fantasy, delivers the kind of lovelorn, lyrically anguished tunes fans have come to expect. Get in on the catharsis at Rice's one-night-only gig at the legendary Apollo.
Restless, prolific troubadour Ryan Adams hits the city in support of his latest releases, Ryan Adams and 1984 (a full-length and an EP, respectively), both nods to the rock and punk he grew up with. Adams plays two sets of shows during this run: a pair of solo acoustic dates at Carnegie Hall, followed by a pair of full-band gigs at Hammerstein. Expect to hear his intimate, heartbreaking classics at the former, and his noisier new tunes at the latter.
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 alt-J's back with sophomore effort This is All Yours.
Beloved Canadian crew the New Pornographers (which launched the careers of A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Destroyer's Dan Bejar) is back with Brill Bruisers, its latest set of shamelessly grandiose, irresistibly hooky pop. Peppy Brooklyn jangle-pop faves the Pains of Being Pure at Heart set the stage.
Local heroes TV on the Radio, for years indie rock's brainiest It band, celebrate their new fifth LP, Seeds—their first since the 2011 death of former bassist Gerard Smith—with a trio of big gigs. They'll move from the perennially cool Apollo to their old Williamsburg stomping grounds on Nov 21 and 22.
Having reached the Tony Bennett stage of her illustrious career, Diana Krall's latest album, Wallflower, finds the husky-voiced jazz pianist covering classics like "California Dreamin'" and "Desperado." It's the culmination of her slow-but-steady move toward pop material in the decade since her marriage to one Declan MacManus, a.k.a. Elvis Costello, so get ready to hear jazzy renditions of your pop darlings.
You remember Luscious Jackson, right? The funk- and hip-hop-infused pop crew was the first to be signed to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label in the early ’90s, and had a run of alt hits with "CitySong," "Deep Shag" and "Here" (which featured in Clueless). Over a decade after they called it quits, Jill Cunniff, Gabby Glaser & Co. are back together and making new music—at this NYC date you'll hear from last year's Magic Hour.
Jean-Philip Grobler—originally from Johannesburg, not St. Lucia, thanks very much—reates thumping, euphoric, synth-driven electropop that's retro but refreshingly unkitschy. After four big Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg gigs earlier this year, Grobler graduates to the big room.
Interpol's brief moment as indie-rock gods didn't last forever—Turn on the Bright Lights holds up as one of the most memorable debuts of the ’00s—but the band still manages to churn out solid, Joy Division–esque anthems on its new, fifth LP, El Pintor. Art-pop up-and-comers Hundred Waters open.
After years of confronting the typical pop-group problems—quibbling, intra-band romance, addiction, figuring out how to transition away from shoulder pads—Culture Club has reunited to play both coasts before next year's release of a brand-new album. Boy George hit town behind a new solo LP earlier in 2014, but the nostalgia factor ought to make this gig even bigger.
NYC rock legend (and the last guy still swapping s for z) Julian Casablancas isn't resting on his considerable laurels as frontman for New York's beloved Strokes, who played a knockout gig at this year's Governors Ball. With his new band the Voidz, Casablancas has just released Tyranny, his first extracurricular effort since 2009's Phrazes for the Young. Snag your tickets as this hometown show is sure to sell out fast.
Bob Dylan—the most celebrated lyricist in pop-music history—may be more or less unintelligible onstage these days, a harsh rasp having long ago replaced his trademark nasal whine. But Dylan's current shows (a mixture of old and new, beloved and obscure) prove that the potency of his songs transcends the verbal realm. Like the vintage folk and blues that famously inspired him, his tunes trade on the mystical momentum of the cyclical song form. Go in with an open mind, and don't forget to check out his recent The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, which features the complete sessions from one of pop's most famous leaks.
One month shy of a decade since the release of their much-acclaimed debut, 2004's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine, the amped-up Canadian dance-rawk duo finally dropped their follow-up, The Physical World, just in time to ride the early aughts nostalgia wave. Smart move, guys.
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