Best NYC concerts of 2017
Amidst the contemporary revival of ‘90s mid-western emo, genre vet Mike Kinsella (of Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc and Owen fame) recently reconvened his short-lived project American Football to release a followup to the band's era-defining, cult classic self-titled debut—possibly the most highly anticipated emo album ever written. You can decide for yourself whether the rebuilt project delivers at its sure-to-sellout T5 gig.
Cloud Nothings play the sort of scruffy fuzz-pop you've heard a million times, but thanks to the vocal pathos and songwriting smarts of frontman Dylan Baldi and the wiry muscle of bassist TJ Duke and drummer Jayson Gerycz, this Cleveland crew achieves a rare resonance. The band follows up its debut and a Wavves collaboration album with a wearier, more introspective collection of tunes, Life Without Sound.
“If they try to slow me down, I’ll tell them all to go to hell,” Brian King screams on “The House That Heaven Built,” the most blaring single from Japandroids’ 2012 album, Celebration Rock. The band’s been silent these past few years but no longer. The duo returns with a new album in tow, the spectacularly titled Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, that promises all the same cathartic audience sing-alongs of yore.
As we enter a Trump presidency, head here to scream your dissent. This North-South hip-hop throwdown is sure to pack in outrage aplenty as Definitive Jux hero El-P and quick-witted Atlanta MC Killer Mike spit incisive political venom on their appropriately titled third album, Run the Jewels 3, a collection of braggadocio and cutthroat takedowns. The swirling psychedelia of L.A. beatmaker the Gaslamp Killer sets the stage.
Composer-pianist Philip Glass’s annual fete and fund-raiser for NYC Buddhist center Tibet House draws a characteristically diverse range of contributing artists. This year Glass is joined by rock survivor and former Stooges frontman Iggy Pop, poet-rocker Patti Smith, avant-garde icon Laurie Anderson, New Order members Bernard Sumner, Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman, and more, as part of the composer’s 80th birthday celebration.
Alt-rock icon PJ Harvey’s latest release, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is another singular statement. The record balances weighty tone and musical simplicity, as when Harvey builds tracks like “The Ministry of Defence” and “The Words That Maketh Murder” around ominously bellowing horns and eerie chanting. As ever, it’s unclear just what makes Harvey tick creatively, The Hope Six Demolition Project being just the latest example of her penchant for dark, compelling songwriting rooted in odd moods. Nevertheless, her output is always arresting. Her gig is one of the best excuses to check out Williamsburg’s new, long-awaited cavernous concert digs, Brooklyn Steel, a 20,000-square-foot, 1,800-person-capacity converted warehouse run by Bowery Presents, the folks behind venues such as Terminal 5 and Music Hall of Williamsburg.
For its seventh edition, the big-tent music fest promises (barring any rain, knock on wood) headlining sets by alt-metal vets Tool, Chicago hip-hop scion Chance the Rapper and indie-rock quartet Phoenix. There’s plenty on the bill to be excited about, from grime spitters Skepta and Stormzy to pop auteur Lorde. Randalls Island Park (governorsballmusicfestival.com). June 2–4 11:45am–11pm; three-day pass $275–$305.
When R&B singer Abel Tesfaye released his debut mixtape, House of Balloons, in 2011, he did so hidden behind the Weeknd moniker: faceless and nameless, with no pictures, concerts or interviews. Since then, he’s made the leap from mystery-cloaked DIY buzz magnet to Grammy-winning superstar, and deservedly so—in recent years, Tesfaye’s revitalized his drugged out psychosexual fantasy with ’80s funk basslines and a glossy pop shimmer. The heartbreaker dropped off last fall’s Meadows Festival due to a conflicting appearance on SNL. Fortunately, he’s making it up to us with a few stadium-size stopovers, so you have no excuse to miss the Toronto singer-producer pushing R&B to ever lusher, edgier extremes.
Icelandic band Sigur Rós maintains a seemingly unpiercable facade beyond its remote native land—blame it on the combo’s brainy, loose dreamscapes, which turned unexpectedly turbulent and aggressive on its most recent effort, Kveikur. The group pared down in recent years to a trio after the departure of keyboardist Kjartan "Kjarri" Sveinsson, but you can expect the trim lineup to craft an enormously expansive, otherwordly experience nonetheless.
Panorama fest brings some impressive talent to for its second year at Randalls Island. Solange, Tame Impala, Nine Inch Nails, A Tribe Called Quest, Alt-J and, yes, Frank Ocean fill this year’s headlining slots. Randalls Island Park (panorama.nyc). July 28–30 noon–11pm; $125, three-day pass $345.
Anthemic alt-rockers Coldplay hit town in support of their sixth studio effort, A Head Full of Dreams. This tour marks the Londoners return to bombastic laser lights and pyrotechnics at their usual stadium locales after their low-key Ghost Stories tour travelled through smaller, more intimate venues. Get ready for new gems like "Birds" and "Everglow" alongside classic hits like "Fix You" and "The Scientist."
Only time will tell if 24K Magic’s foot-tapping facsimile of ’70s funk, ’80s disco-pop and ’90s R&B will lose its sheen over the course of 2017. But we’re betting that come fall, Mars’s party tunes will still have enough funk to get you uptown (or to Brooklyn, New Jersey or Long Island).