NYC Live Music Calendar 5/24-29-07
This week’s live music calendar is place-specific. You will assuredly recognize a lot of these acts, but what about where they’re playing? Is a good time guaranteed for all or none at all? This week we give you the scoop.
Thurs May 24 the Dog Show plays Midway, Ave. B and 2nd St., 7 PM sharp. The frontman, a brilliant lyricist and rock hookmeister surrounds himself with a rotating cast of the crème de la crème of the NYC underground rock scene. The songs have Elvis Costello craftsmanship and vintage Who/Stones passion and propulsion. The venue is a comfortably scruffy bodega-basement type place with excellent sound.
Also Thurs May 24 Tandy plays Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM, 2 sets. The Wilco fixation has finally run its course and they’ve developed their own sound: a lot more rocking, just as hooky, and also a lot more literate than Wilco ever was. The venue: it’s Rodeo Bar. Wasted Baruch kids boinking in the bathrooms. Greasy, somewhat pricy Tex-Mex food. Free peanuts in the shell: hey, that’s dinner! Legendary tekillya slurpies whose potency justifies the expense, and great sound if you can situate yourself in front of the hordes of sloppy drunks who have zero interest in the music.
Also Thurs May 24 genius guitarist Jim Campilongo plays songs off his new one Heaven Is Creepy at 10 at Barbes in Park Slope, F train to 7th Ave and walk downhill. The album title cuts both ways with this guy: heaven is a pretty creepy concept, isn’t it? And creepy is heaven – for this guy anyway, with his eerie reverb tank overflowing with ominous echoey surfy tonalities. He’s followed by the hilarious and talented country hellraiser Jack Grace. I can see a gig like this happening somewhere in San Antonio in 1976: if that’s your great lost time and place, you could approximate it well here tonight. The venue: the back room here is SMALL, in order to get a seat you should plan to arrive at least an hour before showtime. Decent sound, very intimate, the club – which takes its name from a formerly sketchy section of Paris and has a very Francophile vibe – has reasonably priced microbrews and wine.
Fri May 25, 9 PM the ethereal Lispector plays the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City along with the very creepy, minimalist, early 80s inflected Invisible Friend later in the evening, 7 train to Vernon/Jackson or G to 21s t/Van Alst and a short walk. Never been to the venue: they serve Mexican food, and the website looks like they’re trying to be trendoid central. But you never know.
Fri, May 25 the Elana James Trio (ex-Hot Club of Cowtown) with brilliant guitarist Whit Smith (from Western Caravan) plays Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM. Country/western swing guitar and fiddle, par excellence.
Fri May 25 Melomane and Jack Grace Band bassist Daria Grace’s excellent old-timey band with J. Walter Hawkes on trombone and Jon Dryden on piano – and the reliably entertaining Ms. Grace on ukelele – play Biscuit BBQ, 5th Ave at President St. in Park Slope, take any train to Atlantic Ave. They open for the charmingly self-explanatory Ukeladies, showtime is 9 PM. The venue: never been there. The website makes it look straight out of central Jersey: it’s ostensibly a barbecue restaurant with a cover charge and also food/drink minimum, but these bands are worth it.
Also Fri May 25 System Noise play the Mean Fiddler, 266 West 47th St. @ 8th Avenue 10 PM. Right band, wrong time: spectacularly passionate, virtuosic guitar, bass, drums and female singer with amazing range and belting ability. The trendoids just don’t get it, but they won’t be here tonight. Late 70s King Crimson meets late 70s Public Image Ltd. meets prime-era Polvo with funk, hip-hop and even pop influences. For such a loud, noisy band they’re amazingly catchy and melodic and on any given night are easily the most exhilarating live band in town. The venue: nice place, good sound, formerly an off-Broadway theatre. Drinks are Midtown pricy but the milieu is surprisingly comfortable even if the universally despised Left Eye Lopez has been booking there recently.
Sat May 26 an especially good triple bill at Cake Shop – Linda Draper headlines at 9, celebrating the release of her new cd Traces Of. She’s one of the most exciting lyricists anywhere. Musically, Draper has reverted to the super catchy acoustic pop of her first album, and her latest stuff has a newfound terseness, but she’ll still dazzle you with inventive, frequently corrosive wordplay. The venue: best new club in town. You could live here: it’s a combination bakery, used record store and music venue. Reasonable prices (including the cover charge), superior sound and a completely unpretentious, old-school vibe.
Also Sat May 26, fiery garage/punks 18 play Trash Bar, open bar 8-9 PM during their set. Good drinking music. One of the tightest bands in NYC. Riff-driven rock with effortlessly unleashed energy the way it was played in 1966 by Sam the Sham…and in 1976 by the Ramones…and in 1986 by the Lyres. Except that 18 plays all their own stuff.
Also Sat May 26 Cementhead play the Annex on Orchard St. (the former Bar 11), 8 PM. Fiery, driving punk-pop with especially interesting, arpeggiated guitar work. Twice the testosterone of the Buzzcocks and about a hundred times that of the French Kicks. Worth braving this horrid venue – a place where many bands refuse to play – for this show. Why? It’s crawling with trendoids and tourists, drinks aren’t cheap and the music they play over the PA between bands is so bad and so loud you’ll want to take up smoking just so you can step outside. If the Continental was too quiet for you, you’ll love the Annex.
Also Sat May 26 at Barbes starting at 8 PM it’s the Spinal Tap of lounge bands, Cocktail Angst, one of the most hilarious live acts you will ever see. If you remember Richard Cheese’s album of lounge covers of 90s grunge songs, you’ll love these guys. Frontwoman Toby Williams is a bonafide, stylistically diverse jazz singer with great range, and the band knows the genre expertly so their parodies are spot-on. As a bonus, Delta Dreambox – which is Moonlighters frontwoman Bliss Blood’s acoustic blues band – plays at 10.
Also Sat May 26 Flugente plays Midway, 9:30 PM. That’s Jerry Adler from the Blam, solo acoustic. Unpretentious, conversational singer; great lyrics; barely restrained rage. This is the guy who snarled, “Death to all hipsters!” at Capone’s and the trendoids looked around in disbelief. See our reviews page for a take on his superb solo debut cd.
Also Sat May 26 fiery two-guitar highway rockers the Sloe Guns celebrate veteran drummer Bill Gerstel’s birthday at Arlene’s, 10 PM. They finally found a drummer, a real good one, and suddenly they’re back in the fast lane. If Steve Earle or the Jayhawks rock your world so will the Sloe Guns. The venue: it’s Arlene’s. Pretend it’s a midtown Irish bar and you won’t be far off the mark. Fairly comfortable, generally good sound, but not cheap either.
Late Sat May 26 Brainfinger play Hank’s in Brooklyn off the Atlantic Ave. stop at midnight. It’s the former keyboardist and drummer from the Coffin Daggers playing pretty much the same thing: ostensibly it’s surf music but there’s a macabre Doors influence, especially with the keyboard guy’s Balkan funereal tones. The venue: this place rocks. $2 shit beers, old-man bar vibe, shockingly good sound, completely unpretentious local crowd.
Tues May 29, 9 PM Devi – which is monster guitarist Deb DeSalvo’s power trio – play Trash Bar. Open bar with wells and PBRs with club admission 8-9 PM. DeSalvo found a way to work with her rhythm section’s metal tendencies, meaning that she’s stretching out and taking some wild, riveting, completely psychedelic solos. A lot of her songs are very dark, and this allows her inner rock animal – which is very, very funny – to jump out of its skin and surprise you with chops and sly humor. The venue: they get pretty much everything right. The sound quality runs hot and cold but drinks are free if you get there for power hour and they serve free tater tots every hour on the hour. The crowd depends on the act onstage: Devi’s fans are an unpretentiously polyglot crew with a smattering of metalheads.