The best NYC concerts and music festivals in September
Tom Petty, the Black Keys, Lorde, Lily Allen and the Replacements will rock the NYC concert stages in September
Photograph: Michael J. Chen
It seems like an eternity ago (2010, for those keeping track) that the Web reached a collective frothing point over the Die Antwoord’s early videos, which chronicled a surreally scuzzy South African subculture known as zef. But the Cape Town dance-rap collective still turns heads now and again with statements such as this year's "Pitbull Terrier" vid, which featured prosthetics, a whole lot of fake blood and some very transformative spit. Here, the crew hits Terminal 5 in support of its recent third LP, Donker Mag.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs only release albums every three years or so, and that's a long time to go without a Karen O fix. Luckily, the incandescent frontwoman's solo debut, Crush Songs, is out in September on Julian Casablancas's Cult Records. She's playing four intimate hometown shows in honor of the record, so be sure to get your tickets to see one of NYC's rock idols up close and personal.
During a wildly acclaimed 20-year career, Britt Daniel & Co. have risen far beyond their roots as indie-rock underdogs. "Rent I Pay," the sassy, driving lead single from the new They Want My Soul, finds the Austin institution in a comfortable, unmistakably Spoon-y groove.
Few would contend that Tom Petty deserves the rock-bard designation rightly bestowed on Neil Young or Bob Dylan, but then again, Petty has penned more indelible radio hits than the other two combined. It's gonna be a dad-rocking good time here, as the Florida road dog supports his effortlessly cool latest, Hypnotic Eye, with help from veteran British soul-pop belter Steve Winwood.
Canadian duo Chromeo hits the stage for a live set of super-fun (and enjoyably cheesy at times) electronic R&B stylings, playing from its recent album, White Women. Starting the show is booty-shaking extroardinaire Big Freedia, NOLA's biggest and best "sissy bounce" performer.
New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem gigs hard and fast, with a working-class populism that comes with the state’s birth certificate—you can hear it on the group's latest, Get Hurt. Beloved Arizona emo-rockers Jimmy Eat World and passionate punks Against Me! start things off.
The recently crowned New Zealand pop princess plays three New York shows with the comparitively little-known Montreal duo Majical Cloudz, bringing its grim confessionals and stark sonic minimalism along for the ride. What aesthetic qualities tie together the indie-pop sensation and her opening support? We're not quite sure, but both have mastered the art of the brooding stare.
When Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley first posted the band’s R&B-laced indie-pop online in 2010, the response was immediate and favorable, prompting him to quickly take the songs down. Come again? The truth was that Bayley was pursuing his medical degree, and like a good English chap, he didn’t want to get too wrapped up in all of this music hoo-ha. Two years later, with studies complete, it was time for Glass Animals, Take 2. The Oxford group reemerged, its hypnotic blend of smooth electronic grooves and funkified indie rock garnering heavy buzz. Here, the group plays behind its recent debut, Zaba—a lush, intricately crafted effort, deftly balancing bass-heavy tropical rhythms and Bayley’s airy croon.
With his mellifluous croon and warm arrangements, Basehead associate Citizen Cope is the Jack Johnson of soul. Not a bad thing in our book. At this big show, the self-proclaimed urban poet celebrates the 10th anniversary of his album The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, which featured heart-tuggers like "Sideways."
Of all the great prog-era dinosaurs still roaming the earth, Robert Fripp's 46-year-old art-rock institution has remained the most committed to reinvention. Every time the group reemerges—e.g., in its fierce, angular early-’70s incarnation, or its sleekly modernized early-’80s one—it's typically a butterfly-from-a-cocoon situation. Word has it that there's no fresh material in the works this time around, but the debut of a three-drummer septet lineup (dubbed a "Seven-Headed Beast" by Fripp) is news in and of itself. All hail.
The 24-year-old alt-R&B enigma Abel Tesfaye, voice of the Weeknd, returns for his biggest NYC show yet. Not all of Tesfaye's recorded music lives up to the deafening buzz he elicted upon his 2011 online emergence, but at its best (e.g., the Drake collaboration "Crew Love," a cover of M.J.'s "Dirty Diana," "Elastic Heart" with Sia and Diplo, and a handful of tracks from 2013's immersive Kiss Land), the Weeknd's output is both dizzyingly sensual and deeply unsettling.
The quirky Chicago alt-rock band more famous for its music videos than for its actual music has a new album due in October, Hungry Ghosts, and yes, a trippy optical illusion-laden video for single "The Writing's On the Wall." But are people actually into the band? This big Bowery Ballroom show suggests yes.
Too polished to be punk but too trashy to be pop, ’80s alt-rock pioneers the Replacements finally bring their reunion tour to NYC. Word has it that even after 22 years, Paul Westerberg & Co. can still deliver the sloppily passionate goods. Brooklyn bar band extraordinaire the Hold Steady and rollicking, Southern-tinged roots alt-country rockers Deer Tick open.
If you've never heard of Stromae, that's likely going to change really soon. The electro-songsmith and recent Time Out New York cover star—real name: Paul Van Haver—specializes in soulful bangers that sound at once sophisticated and bombastic, and he's a huge star in his native Belgium. The mania seems to be spreading, judging by the high demand for these big NYC gigs.
The Dandy Warhols were never anyone’s idea of visionaries—even their best work is steeped in glorious West Coast emptiness. The Portland, OR, quartet once functioned as a dapper sponge, soaking up the culture and funneling various trendy sounds through its drone. In the ’90s, this meant paying homage to the ’60s; the early ’00s brought the band up to Reagan-era pop. Now the Dandies look back to their own past, touring behind their first live release, a complete performance of their 2000 breakthrough album 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia (which featured their signature hit, "Bohemian Like You").
Panda Bear, a.k.a. Animal Collective indie-pop visionary Noah Lennox, is currently working on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, the follow-up to 2011's Tomboy—a dazzling effort that paired Lennox's Beach Boys–y vocals with more organic, but still weird, musical textures. Odds are you'll get a peek at some new material at these gigs, also featuring lo-fi ambient mainstays Blues Control.
Five years and change after her last album, pop vixen Lily Allen recently returned to the spotlight with a new effort, Sheezus. The sassy Brit attracted a fair bit of criticism: First, there were claims that her video for “Hard Out Here”—which employed only black backup dancers—was a tad, well, racist; then Allen admitted on Twitter that her first singles for Sheezus were “rubbish.” To top it all off, she did her best Beyoncé impression (it actually wasn’t half bad), which offended the delicate sensibilities of more fervent Bey fans. We think she’ll come out okay, though. After all, what’s a comeback without a little controversy?
The Black Keys, the little Akron, OH, blues-rock duo that could, has evolved into a world-class psychedelic pop powerhouse, fueled by Dan Auerbach's cool croon and Patrick Carney's bouncy beats. Here, the pair supports its immersive latest, Turn Blue, with help from Cage the Elephant, a Kentucky outfit that mines a good-time ’70s-rock vibe.
Sunn O))) did a major service to Earth (the band) by name-checking the veteran Seattle outfit constantly—not to mention reviving its monolithic sound—as it ascended the avant-metal ranks. Earth capitalized on the favor by reemerging in an entirely overhauled guise, the latest example of which is a tenth studio LP, Primitive and Deadly, recorded with an expanded lineup including Sunn O)))'s own Bill Herzog on bass and Built to Spill's Brett Netson on guitar.
Those still mourning the split of San Francisco’s psych-tinged indie-rock duo Girls, wipe away those tears: Frontman Christopher Owens's solo career seems to have stuck, and he's playing Williamsburg just a week before the release of his second post-Girls LP, A New Testament. If the lead singles are any indication, you're in for a set of beautifully bittersweet pop, informed equally by country, soul, psychedelia and vintage rock & roll.
Considering that 26-year-old Danish songstress Mø was a huge Spice Girls fan growing up and started an electropunk duo called MOR at age 18, her current sound makes perfect sense: catchy indie pop anchored by soaring hooks, bubbling with the chaos and restlessness of youth. Karen Marie Ørsted has been making music as Mø since 2009, but the project started gaining steam in 2012, when Ørsted joined forces with producer Ronni Vindahl for the soul-baring “Maiden.” Her debut album, No Mythologies to Follow, followed earlier this year—a pop manifesto that combines Ørsted’s past wanderings into a single lush journey. Live, she summons her punk upbringing to electrifying result, complete with air punches and ponytail whips.
There’s a bit of a rift between the critical and popular receptions of Iggy Azalea. The Aussie rapper shot to fame via YouTube and claimed the inaugural fan-voted slot in XXL’s “Freshman Class of 2012” (Azalea herself says that was the only way she could have made the cut). Her debut album, The New Classic, isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind—we respect her rhyming chops but have a hard time stomaching her tougher-than-thou posture—yet fans seem quite content with the effort: Her first two charting singles, "Problem" and the ubiquitous "Fancy," made it to Billboard's top slots. Expect a screamfest here as I-G-G-Y cobills with Chicago rapper Vic Mensa.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bruce Hornsby’s music keeps being re-cool-ified. Hornsby is the very exemplar of dad-rock: Ninety-nine percent of the young population has been blasted with the piano man’s work on a family road trip at some point. So it stands to reason that Tupac should have a mellow moment sampling “That’s Just the Way It Is”; and that more recently, indie-rock mountain man Justin Vernon would co-opt Hornsby’s icy piano sound. But what of Hornsby himself? He has also made bluegrass records, gigged with a jazz band, and even toured as part of the Grateful Dead. Here, he reunites with his trusty Noisemakers.
Broken Bells—the band co-led by Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse, and Shins singer James Mercer—takes the stage in the wake of its sophomore effort, After the Disco. The group isn't winning any awards for compelling stage presence, but its lush, dancey pop is so damn enchanting, you'll hardly notice. Charismatic Walkmen crooner Hamilton Leithauser opens, performing cuts from his solo debut, Black Hours.
Returning for a third year with another big bash in Central Park, Global Citizen allows you to earn your way in to catch a starry bill—Jay Z, No Doubt, Carrie Underwood, fun., the Roots and Tiësto—by performing civic-minded acts, with a goal of eliminating extreme poverty around the globe by 2030. (Or you can, you know, shell out big bucks for VIP tix.) Get started by visiting globalcitizen.org.
- Price band: 2/4
- Critics choice
Fifteen years after their last album, sophomore effort Seven More Minutes, the Rentals are finally back with a follow-up, last month's Lost in Alphaville. Fronted by original Weezer bassist Matt Sharp, the band still has its signature quirky synth-rock sound, and it's returned just in time to show the new crop of ’90s-nostalgia acts how alt-rock is really done.
Led Zeppelin may be in the midst of a snazzy, full-catalog reissue campaign, but don't get your hopes up for a U.S. tour. This fall, leonine lead man Robert Plant is on the road with his current cross-cultural concern, the Sensational Space Shifters, touring behind a sensuous new African-tinged soul-meets-rock set, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar.
Last year was a bit of a whirlwind for arty L.A. R&B purveyor Jillian Banks, who performs as BANKS. It began when British DJ Zane Lowe found her song "Before I Ever Met You" online and hyped it on his radio show as the next big thing. Jump ahead one year, and BANKS has received award nominations from both the BBC and MTV, worked with fast-rising beat masters SOHN and Lil Silva, and toured with the Weeknd. Here, she hits town in support of her immodestly titled new debut LP, Goddess.
The Brooklyn-via-Cali act Delta Spirit does anthemic mainstream rock that conceals a faint rootsiness underneath its polished, danceable sheen, recalling everything from the Killers to Kings of Leon.
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