Red Bull Music Academy Festival kicked off Thursday with Bounce Ballroom, a bass-heavy slate of hyper-localized dance music at Brooklyn Night Bazaar, and continued with a pair of William Onyeabor tribute shows featuring the David Byrne-led group Atomic Bomb at Brooklyn Academy of Music Friday and Saturday. Festivities continue all month long across New York City. Check out the full lineup here and read on for five can’t-miss shows. A couple are sold out, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Don’t sleep on the remaining options.
May 10, 8:00pm, Brooklyn Masonic Temple, $15 TICKETS
Aside from Robert Henke’s integral role in the development of Ableton, that ubiquitous electronic production and performance software, he has also dabbled in his own music. Under the Monolake moniker, he has created intricate and textured electronic productions that indicate an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the software and rhythmic technique. Whereas many performers are content to use existing visuals for their performance, Henke specifically structured laser projections and other stimuli to coincide with carefully orchestrated compositions. The synchronized audio visual affair calls to mind Amon Tobin’s ISAM which made its NYC debut at the same venue a few years ago. Joining Henke will be the eerie experimental noise of The Haxan Cloak, also making its U.S. debut.
A Night of Improvised Round Robin Duets
May 14, 7:30pm, Town Hall, $30 TICKETS
Presented in conjunction with Undead Music Festival, the round robin is designed to produce a continuous flow of amorphous music. One musician starts a solo, another joins in and then the first cedes the stage to another in an ongoing rotation throughout the evening. The format yields unexpected and often delightful results. It takes a unique musical mind to participate in such a venture, and the night will feature many such creative forces representing a variety of genre. New Orleans R&B piano legend Allen Toussaint, fusion trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, and Detroit sax man James Carter will hold it down on the jazzier end of the spectrum. On the electronic side, eclectic Monome master Daedelus and Ghostly International downtempo beatsmith Shigeto are the highlights. Marco Benevento, Marc Ribot and Nels Cline are probably most comfortable with the improv format, with each of them having played in countless configurations of various musicians over their collective careers, often in the collaboration-friendly jamband scene. Then there’s wild cards like beatbox vocal looper James Lidell, electronic tabla enthusiast Karsh Kale, and virtuoso six stringer Kaki King, and many more. The pairings will be chosen at random, so all music will be created purely on the fly. The night will surely produce some spectacular musical alchemy.
Hardcore Activity In Progress
May 16, 8pm, Knockdown Center, $10 TICKETS
This evening is perhaps the most eclectic of the entire festival, which says quite a bit for such a varied offering. The rugged Ridgewood, Queens warehouse space presents an extensive selection of decidedly experimental music from a range of genres, including but not limited to noise, classical, techno and hip hop, for a primer in all music that refuses to color inside the lines. Highlights include Ukranian neo-classical pianist and composer Lubomyr Melnyk, Scandinavian free jazz collective The Thing, Brooklyn post-industrial noisemakers Wolf Eyes, British grindcore legends Napalm Death, Birmingham dark techno specialist Regis and Montreal ambient drone artist Tim Hecker, along with many others.
Panda Bear With Dâm-Funk & Torn Hawk
May 18, 8pm, Warsaw, SOLD OUT
Panda Bear is most prolific with the ambitious archtypical modern psychedelic band Animal Collective, but his solo output veers closer to the dreamy harmonies of the Beach Boys than the quixotic clutter of his main group, while still retaining a distinct sense of the unknown. His distinctive vocals have anchored infectious tunes from Daft Punk, Zomby and Ducktails. This night will feature him in the intimate confines of the Warsaw, joined by funk revivalist and Snoop Dogg collaborator Dâm-Funk, and glitchy cut-and-paste beat maker Torn Hawk.
Mister Saturday Night’s House Party
For the better part of a decade Mr. Saturday Night, the DJ duo Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin have been bringing top notch electronic music talent to lofts and groves across New York City. Recently the duo started a record label to spread the gospel of their particular brand of dance floor ready funk, house and techno. This special evening, in the cozy confines of a 1900s downtown Manhattan house, will feature an early dinner accompanied Malang Jobarteh on kora, a West African 12-string bridge-harp. Following dinner, Brooklyn jazztronic trio will perform a set in the living room on cello, trumpet, turntable and Ableton. The rest of the night will feature fireplace records selected by the duo themselves. Or perhaps you might retreat to the den for a game of billiards. Gunnar Haslam of off-kilter techno specialist label Long Island Electrical Systems, and Mr. Saturday Night’s latest affiliate General Ludd who just dropped a stellar mix for Vice’s Thump, will close out the intimate affair. Tickets sold out almost instantly, but keep your ears to the street for a possible re-release. Carter and Harkin are known for accommodating their fans.