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Lesley Flanigan
Photograph: Courtesy Kaufman Music Center Lesley Flanigan

NYC concerts, comedy shows and music festivals to see this winter

Catch all this winter's best nightlife entertainment events with our guide to the funniest comedians, hottest NYC concerts and coolest music festivals


Laugh away the winter blues at a comedy show, shake your ass at NYC concerts or catch a music festival (yes, they happen in winter, too). This season's blowout shows include Jay Z, Billy Joel and Neil Young, and if you want to get hands-on, do some crate-digging at the new Rough Traderecord store in Williamsburg.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the winter in NYC

Get a poppy melody stuck in your head

Music Dance and electronic

The psych-rock outfit returns home to Brooklyn after crisscrossing the country in support of its self-titled third album. The band’s music has gotten grungier and weirder since the platinum-certified days of “Kids,” but the spectacle in its live shows has held strong, promising the kind of strangeness you don’t often see in an arena setting. If that’s not enough to sell you, we’ll point out that the openers—Dinosaur Jr., godfathers of lo-fi rock—are worth the price of admission in their own right.

Dance the night away with Metro Area


Tonight's start-to-finish set comes from Metro Area's Darshan Jesrani and Morgan Geist, who'll be playing their usual top-flight mix of glittering house, boogie, Italo and disco. The pair has been active on the party front lately—we don't know of any new recorded material on the horizon, but if everybody closes their eyes and makes a wish, who knows?


Embrace pop music at Z100's Jingle Ball

Music Pop

Relive the tawdriest pop-cultural spectacle of the year as Disney star turned risqué wrecking ball Miley Cyrus cobills with Mr. "Blurred Lines" himself, Robin Thicke, at Z100's glitzy holiday bacchanal. (Something tells us the former Hannah Montana will go easy on the twerking and foam-finger fondling this time around, but who can say?) A host of other heavy-duty hit makers round out this inevitable teen screamfest.

Raise a joyful ruckus at Unsilent Night

Things to do Quirky events

This trippy musical performance piece, dreamed up by composer Phil Kline, is downtown’s decidedly arty, secular answer to Christmas caroling. Boom-box-toting participants gather under the Washington Square Arch, where they are given a cassette or CD of one of four different atmospheric tracks; you can also download the Unsilent Night app and sync up via smartphone. Everyone then presses play at the same time and marches through the streets of New York together, blending their music and filling the air with a beautiful, echoing 45-minute piece. Those without speakers are invited to join in, too.


Spend some time with official Wayans brother Damon Wayans

Comedy Stand-up

As with many no-longer-young comics, this member of the Wayans clan now focuses his material on the vagaries of family and parenting, but he’s still essentially the same guy we fell in love with on In Living Color. And if you look closely, you can still make out the fluffy wig, bulbous red nose and loaded sock of Homey D. Clown.

Help Yo La Tengo Celebrate Hanukkah in Brooklyn at the Bell House

Music Rock and indie

Currently without a December home base in the wake of Maxwell's closing last summer, the Hoboken indie-rock heroes reboot their hallowed holiday series in Brooklyn. These shows—each of which features a pair of YLT sets—aren't being explicitly billed as a continuation of the band's long-running Hanukkah series, but it's still safe to expect the usual seasonal themes and array of awesome guest stars.


Watch musicians emerge from Subway platforms for Make Music New York

Things to do

Make Music New York, which inundates public spaces with live music every June 21, now brings its magic to the winter solstice, as well. Look out for participatory musical parades on Sat 21 everywhere from G train stations and the High Line to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Columbus Circle. Boombox flashmob pioneer Phil Kline has a new piece going down at BAM for the occasion, in case you have to miss his celebrated Unsilent Night in the Village on Sat 14. Check out to find out how you can play along.

Light up the darkest night of the year at Winter Solstice Celebration

Music Jazz

Having trouble deciding which one of your friends’ apartments will be used to host this year’s solstice bonfire and ritual sacrifice? Avoid all that messy virgin blood and try a more modern tradition: Paul Winter’s annual concert, returning for its 34th year. You can see African-inspired dancing and drumming from the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre as well as the WSC standbys: Brazilian guitarist Renato Braz, and the Paul Winter Consort with Winter himself on sax.


Kvetch about the holiday season

Comedy Stand-up

The hilariously grumpy Jackie Hoffman is a throwback to the golden age of nightclub acts, when performers overflowed with larger-than-life personality. Her holiday rants at Joe's Pub are particularly invigorating; this time she addresses—among other things—working a gay cruise during Rosh Hashanah.

Ring in 2014 in a New York state of mind

Music Rock and indie

Hang out with the Piano Man while you're waiting for 2013 to ring the last-call bell. It's Billy Joel's first proper NYC concert since 2008, and while he hasn't released a new record in over 20 years, he's still the beloved, gazillion-album seller you remember. Expect him to bust out the oldies and the goodies for this big gig: "Uptown Girl," "River of Dreams" and, of course, "New York State of Mind."


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