This is the first installment of Joonbug's weekly live music preview. Check back here every Monday to see who's coming to town and why you should overcome your crippling agoraphobia.
Tuesday May 10th
Donald Glover is making us all look bad. He was hired as writer for 30 Rock straight out of NYU. He’s a staple of the comedy series Community where he gets to riff with Chevy Chase. His videos with Derrick Comedy and Funny or Die have been the bane of any computer bound procrastinator. And to top it off he lashes his razor wit through a mic when he moonlights as the rapper Childish Gambino. Yes, he makes us look lazy, but he also makes us laugh.
Yo La Tengo – The Bell House (also performing Wednesday night)
Often fawned over by critics but rarely by the mainstream, music fans should be thankful Yo La Tengo still roams the earth. Many of their fellow post rock elders have long since died off, but the band keeps on keeping on as steady and resonant as their trademark feedback. With a deep well of 14 albums to draw from and a body of songs that can melt the heart as well as the eardrums, their shows are rarely predictable and always memorable.
Wednesday May 11th
Manchester Orchestra with Cage the Elephant and O’Brother– Terminal 5
Raucous distortion? Check. Full-blown string sections? Check. Quirky They Might Be Giants vocal treatments? Check. With such a self-assured but potent mix of sounds, one would expect them to release a concept album of some sorts. What’s that? Simple Math to be released on the 10th is an autobiographical musical treatment of founding member Andy Hull’s life? Ok, check.
2010’s leading candidate for most misleading band name, Sleigh Bells is a musical fun house. Alexis Krauss’s chirping playful vocals sits in a rats nest of metal riffs skroking over distorted dub step beats. Ugly never sounded so cute and infectious.
Thursday May 12th
Maceo Parker – Brooklyn Bridge Park
Ahh, the welcome embrace of summer. The days are longer, the clothes are skimpier, the concerts are free and Maceo is coming to town to ring in the heat. He’s lent his horn lines to James Brown, Parliament, and Prince so it’s safe to say the history of funk lives in his hip pocket. Did I mention he’ll be jamming it out for free?
Mobb Deep with Ghostface and Raekwon – Best Buy Theater
The New York duo exploded with the mid nineties boom of East Coast rap and haven’t cooled since. With Prodigy newly sprung from a three-year jail sentence, Mobb Deep is back to make up for lost time and they've brought out a couple members of the Wu Tang for support.
Friday May 13th
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead with Surfer Blood and True Widow – Music Hall of Williamsburg
Alternatively know as You Will Know Us By The Length Of Our Name, Trail of Dead have long been stalwart defenders of the not just the album as an art form, but the live show as a performance. Spiritual successors to The Who, Trail of Dead has only cranked up their ambition since their breakthrough Source Tags & Codes. Now emancipated from the constraints of a record contract, the band released Tao of the Dead earlier this year. The album was composed and recorded in two different tunings, inspired by Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and boasts artwork that serves as the beginning to founding member’s Conrad Keely’s steam-punk graphic novel. Though brainy they may be, their live shows are an all brawn experience that must be seen (and felt) to be understood.
Deftones with Dillinger Escape Plan and Funeral Party – Best Buy Theater
Many bands didn’t survive the death of grunge, the sad boom and thankful bust of rap metal, or the resurgence of lo-fi garage rock. Deftones have survived all three along with a horrific car accident that’s left bassist Chi Cheng in a coma for the past couple years. What’s more, much like fellow 90’s veterans Tool and Rage Against the Machine, the band has crafted it’s own brand of metal that is often imitated but never duplicated. Singer Chino Moreno can go from calming purr to lacerating scream in a single breath and Frank Delgado’s ambient turntable work demonstrates how DJs were meant to be used in metal. They’re currently touring in anticipation of releasing their album Eros which was temporarily shelved after Chi Cheng’s accident.
Meshell Ndegeocello – Harlem Stage Gatehouse (also performing Saturday night)
Bassist/singer/composer/priestess casts her soul-funk spell in Harlem. Never content to retread, Ndegeocello constantly explores jazz, R&B, pop, and world music, but only ever discovers gold.
Saturday May 14th
Their 2008 debut And You Were A Crow, a brash tour of old rock crafted from the sweat and blood of young hands, left many salivating for a follow up. The New Jersey outfit has their sophomore salvo marked for a summer release, but in the meantime, check out the rock underground’s best kept secret and see for yourself what all the noise is about.
Tommy Emmanuel - B.B. King’s Blues Club
A veteran of five decades in the music world, solo guitarist Tommy Emmanuel will make you rethink the potential sum of ten fingers and six strings. Though he performs alone with his acoustic, his stage presence has the rambunctious energy of Broadway musical. Fans of Leo Kottke, John Fahey, and Bruce Cockburn should dig this Australian treasure.
Sunday May 15th
Japan Benefit Concert – Highline Ballroom
With an eclectic line-up boasting some of the true talents of our day and all proceeds going to Japan’s disaster relief, if you miss out on this one you are not only a fair weather music fan, but a cold, heartless human being. Bass virtuoso Marcus Miller shares the stage with pianist Robert Glasper, Tribe Called Quest MC Q-tip, and Roots drummer ?uestlove. You don’t need an abacus to see what this could add up to.