Have heart, New York City, for a week after SXSW packed up its barbeque sauce and sweat-slathered stages, the live music hangover has finally lifted. Thanks to appearances from major indie-acts with new albums on the way, such as Vampire Weekend, rock 'n' roll legends, like Nick Cave, and half a bottle of aspirin, color has begun to return to the Gotham concert pall, from uptown to downtown, Bronx to Brooklyn. So take your pick from this week's star-studded litter because, migraines and sour stomachs aside, you can't stay in with the shades drawn eating delivery sushi and watching Gilmore Girls re-runs forever (believe me, I've tried).
Though acts like The Strokes and Lana Del Rey have learned privilege puts a critical bull's eye on your back (both have rich daddies, as it turns out), similarly endowed, Ivy League bachelor's boasting indie-outfit Vampire Weekend and their Paul Simon-indebted Afro-pop have somehow managed, over the course of their young career, to largely skirt criticism. Public opinion is a mysterious thing, but the Sperry-clad Draculas' complex yet accessible arrangements and reputation as a pitch-perfect live band have certainly helped to fluff theirs. Toss the new single "Diane Young" -- arguably the finest the band has released -- into the mix, and Vampire Weekend's otherwise non-descript appearance at John Jay College becomes our MOST BUZZED show of the week.
Though punk rock has widely been viewed as music for teenage rebellion, written by teenage rebels, the fact is genre stalwarts such as Johnny Rotten (formerly of the Sex Pistols) and Iggy Pop (who performed most notably with The Stooges) began abusing instruments, eardrums, and chemical substances as early as the mid '70s. This means, of course, that all those original snot-nosed punks are now old men and women with 401ks, cholesterol problems, and, in the case of the guys who make up Bad Religion, another generation of punk bands. A few seasons off from their acoustic guitar-addled, into-the-sunset slide, the L.A. vets are at Terminal 5 tonight with comparatively youthful NYC hardcore outfit The Bronx for an essential punk pilgrimage.
While the 21st century music industry seems capable of breeding ready-made teen icons and microwaveable indie-heroes with little more than the snap of its billfold, true rock stars -- guys like David Bowie and Jimmy Page, who once dominated arenas and tabloids alike -- has proven significantly harder to manifest. Nick Cave, however, long the deep-voiced propellant behind musical acts like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (who just dropped their 15th album, Push The Sky Away) and Grinderman, as well as several Hollywood screenplays and a just-unveiled Grand Central art installation, is perhaps the closest thing we have to it. Grabbing equally old-timey songwriter Sharon Van Etten for an opening slot, Cave's Friday night show at Beacon Theatre is a can't miss.
The second college-hosted show to make our MOST BUZZED list this week, Killer Mike and Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire hit NYU's Eisner & Lubin Auditorium with a Spring Breakbreaking blast of no-frills hip hop, the likes of which hasn't been since, well, OK, Danny Brown's concert at Knitting Factory last Thursday night. Although cardio and composting may have long ago replaced body shots and bong hits on your "Spring To-Do" docket, this one is still the best rap show in NYC this week. If that's your thing, be there.
In case you hadn't heard that Apple is taking over the world -- as if the surface of your coffee table, the pockets of your jeans, and the contents of your backpack weren't evidence enough -- the tech Godzilla is entering the concert venue game this week with a SoHo in-store appearance by longtime indie touchstones Ra Ra Riot. Hungry for younger market share, not Tokyo skyscrapers, the iEverything empire should be lauded as much for music taste as corporate strategy, with this one landing squarely in our Top Ten.
There has been a lot of graduate-level, think-piece press surrounding Brooklyn's DIY (a handy acronym for "Do It Yourself") venue movement in the past 18 months, with few live music hotbeds earning more attention and crossing as many cultural lines as Williamsburg's Glasslands Gallery. One of the New York City's premier electronic music destinations, Glasslands has strung together a months-long run of amazing concerts, spearheaded this week by the sugary sweet experimental pop of Parenthetical Girls, a band who owes more than just its original name (the understandably changed Swastika Girls) to legendary composer and producer, Brian Eno. NON-MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: Contrary to its moniker, the band is not composed exclusively of the fairer sex, but, guys, don't let that keep you from attending an otherwise awesome show.
You have to love a band comprised of former members from alternative rock's most-revered acts who are still willing to play 150-capacity shows in hard-to-reach corners of Brooklyn. Such is the case with The Breeders -- founded by Kim Deal of the Pixies and Tanya Donnelly of Throwing Muses over two decades ago -- who will be in Gowanus on Friday night for an intimate, under-the-radar option at The Bell House. If you're of tired frisk-heavy security checks and sub-21 year olds asking for a sip of your beer, or maybe just want some good music to go with better friends, then make sure to squeeze this one into your weekend plans.
Beyond pure ego, which most artists must posses by the gallon, Venus X uses "PRINCESS OF NEW YORK", instead of her given name, Jazmin Venus Soto, on Twitter quite simply because she is one of the most exciting DJs to hit NYC in the, well, post-DJ era (20 years, plus or minus). Stitching together world music and contemporary pop hits with a thread of dubstep drops and loops, Venus X is the sonic equivalent of a burn unit skin-grafter, wielding the element of surprise like a scalpel. Despite this ultra-post-contemporary approach to dance music, however, Venus X has an appreciation for the past (she still burns CDs, as the New York Times points out) that is sure to transform le Poisson Rouge into a Westway and Output-shaming club clique on Friday night.
ALSO BUZZING: Ratking, Cities Aviv, Weekend Money at Glasslands Gallery (tonight); Rain Machine, Kelli Rudick, Pure Horsehair at Glasslands Gallery (tomorrow); Chuck Ragan, Rocky Votolato, Dave Hause, Jenny Owen Youngs at Irving Plaza (Thursday); Com Truise DJ Set at WIP (Thursday, FREE!); The Beets, Wild Yaks, Air Waves, Darlings, Beach Arabs at Living Bread Deli (Friday); Floor, Thrones at Saint Vitus (Friday); Aputumpu Festival w/ Azania, Soulfege, Denitia Odigie, Osekre & The Lucky Bastards, Gone Quite Mad at Public Assembly (Friday); Mister Lies, Rimar, Heathered Pearls at Glasslands Gallery (Saturday); Broncho, Beach Day, Ski Lodge at Cameo Art Gallery (Saturday); Unstoppable Death Machines, Fake Hooker, Respect, Laughters, Mtns. at Silent Barn (Sunday)