NEW YORK CITY — The best way to elevate a concert experience is with an awe-inspiring light and visual show. This week, two masters in the art of melding light and music hit New York City's stage.
Brazilian artist Amon Tobin, a virtuoso sound designer and composer, brings his "ISAM" show to the Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday after acclaimed performances at the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Sonar festival in Barcelona, Spain. To create the stunning projections and set that accompany his futuristic compositions, Tobin collaborated with cutting-edge VJ Vello Virkhaus and production studio Leviathan, finessing a technique called "projection mapping" — the practice of sculpting video content to match the surface geometry it’s being projected on. See below for more information and links.
At NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, Joshua White brings what Rolling Stone described as "the most psychedelic light show of all time." His series of groundbreaking improvised music performances runs from Thursday to Sunday, starring artists as diverse as NYC rock icon Lou Reed, pioneering minimalist composer Terry Riley and indie-psychedelic poppers Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT. Imagine viewing a concert from inside a lava lamp — White's specialty is "liquid light" — and you're getting close to the experience painted by this old-school master, who created light shows to accompany psychedelic music icons such as Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors in the late 1960s.
Wednesday, September 12
With their first studio album in nine years, "La Futura," out this week, ZZ Top play the Beacon Theatre with their original lineup of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard. After forming in Houston in 1970 and breaking through with the bluesy anthem "La Grange" from their third album "Tres Hombres" in 1973, ZZ Top have produced blues-infected rock, crossing over to stadium-level pop success in the early- to mid-'80s with hits like "Legs," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Gimme All Your Lovin."
Also tonight: Brooklyn's psychedelic minstrels Yeasayer just released their third album, "Fragrant World," and are playing an all-ages SummerStage show at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield with pals Tanlines and Daedelus.
Thursday, September 13
Revered saxophone improviser Anthony Braxton makes his only NYC appearance for the year tonight at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. Braxton will perform with two different ensembles — the Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Diamond Curtain Wall Music Ensemble.
Why? produce literate, classically influenced indie-pop with hints of hip-hop. And yes, that stylistic combination certainly makes them unique, and utterly engaging. At Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Brazilian electronic music producer Amon Tobin brings his spectacular music and visuals to Hammerstein Ballroom. Touring behind his most recent album "ISAM" (Invented Sounds Applied to Music) Tobin has moved away from sampled vinyl recordings toward heavily processed field recordings, arranged in close, intricately edited patterns. Want to learn more? Tobin has released the full "ISAM" album with a track-by-track commentary on Soundcloud. For a preview of the epic live visuals applied to the music in concert, check out this on YouTube.
Also tonight: Founded in New York City in 1992 and later moving to Chicago in 1995, influential American record label Thrill Jockey is celebrating its 20th anniversary with some special live music. Tonight's "Thrill Jockey 20th Anniversary Showcase" at Death by Audio features (among others) the fuzzy psych of White Hills, percussive powerhouse Man Forever, and Brooklyn's improv psych rockers Rhyton. Label founder Bettina Richards talks about her motivations for starting the pioneering indie label here.
Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, best known as the founders of MGMT, push way beyond the boundaries of their trippy pop songs to present a unique son-et-lumière (sound and light show) composed especially for the Joshua Light Show. As resident artists at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East venue during the late 1960s, multimedia artist Joshua White and his cohorts created live, colorful, psychedelic projections behind the great bands of that era, including the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. At NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.
"Thrill Jockey 20th Anniversary Showcase'"concerts continue tonight with two of the label's most influential acts — post-rockers Tortoise and experimental electronic act Matmos (among others) at Webster Hall.
Sunday, September 16
Phil Elverum, the man behind the delicate and hypnotic Mount Eerie project, has recorded his last two albums in an old church in Anacortes, Wash. He describes the most recent release "Ocean Roar" as "the audio equivalent of the blanket of thick dark water vapor that covers the Pacific Northwest for most of the year, revealing only brief glimpses of illumination." At Le Poisson Rouge.
Monday, September 17
Tuesday, September 18
Smooth blues guitarist and five-time Grammy Award winner Robert Cray (and Band) play the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. His latest record "Nothin But Love" marks his 16th studio album and the first since 2009's "This Time." Cray's most popular album was 1986's "Strong Persuader," featuring the hit "Smoking Gun".