Live Music

September’s Musical Mavericks: The Best Live Music This Month

Top concerts from five cutting-edge artists for the next 30 days!

Photo courtesy of NYU Skirball Center

Along with its cooler breezes, September ushers in exciting new shows from five bold and megatalented performers, each of whom push the limits of their respective genres with iconoclastic genius. Some of them are memorable for their wardrobe, some for their precociousness, and some for the new directions they’re focusing their career, but they are—one and all—true originals.

Treasure at the Guggenheim

Following a highly acclaimed turn as the costumer for MacArthur “genius grant” winner Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a loving New Yorker profile, and a stint as the grand marshall of the Halloween Parade, what does a 6-foot-5 fashion designer–slash–bon vivant do for an encore? Apparently, anything he wants to at the Guggenheim Museum. That’s where you’ll find the indefatigable fabulist Machine Dazzle, presenting a dozen new pieces of wearable art in the run of his first cabaret show, coconceived with guitar goddess and fellow 24-Decade alumnus, Viva DeConcini. Expect this to be one of Fashion Week’s stealthily hottest—and most musical—shows.

Photo courtesy of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum/Facebook

Treasure by Machine Dazzle
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (between East 88th and 89th Streets), Upper East Side
Thursday, September 5—Saturday, September 7
7:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $30

Koffee at Brooklyn Steel

I suppose at this point we all have to collectively agree that “Old Town Road” was 2019’s song of the (Hot Girl) summer, but the Jamaican teenage wunderkind (orthodontics and all!) Koffee, 19, certainly earned her space among the finalists with her jubilant ode to gratitude, “Toast.” The protégée of reggae superstar Chronixx caught the attention of an international audience with her 2017 acoustic guitar ode to Usain Bolt, “Legend,” but this is the year she has come into her own with the Rapture EP, five bulletproof tracks that have inspired dozens of remixes. This much-anticipated and twice-rescheduled headline set at Brooklyn Steel comes on the back of her highest of high-exposure guest appearances yet, alongside her mentor with a new take on Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s “I Don’t Care.”

Photo courtesy of Koffee/Facebook

Brooklyn Steel
319 Frost Street, Williamsburg
Wednesday, September 11
8 p.m.

Moles at NYU Skirball Center

In a dank and subterranean space inhabited by the Residents and furry fetishists, you’ll find the titular Talpidae scurrying about French director Philippe Quesne’s internationally ballyhooed production The Moles, making its U.S. premiere at New York University’s Skirball Center. Peer in on the comings and goings of the septet of costumed creatures that drive this show as they wordlessly explore their environment, create free-form art, make love under the earth, and band together to form a punk band in this musical theater oddity. Unsure if you have the fortitude for this burrowing balderdash? You are invited to stop by the NYU campus for a free, no-risk taste of the fun on Thursday, September 12, and join the Moles entourage as they explore the downtown area in a free-range “parade.”

Photo courtesy of NYU Skirball Center

Philippe Quesne: The Moles
NYU Skirball Center
566 LaGuardia Place (between West 3rd and 4th Streets), Greenwich Village
Thursday, September 12—Saturday, September 14
$30; free on September 12

Brittany Howard at the Beacon

Few bands fit the bill of the fabled “10-year overnight success” like Alabama Shakes, the four-piece roots-rock combo that went from 2004 unknowns to multiple Grammy winners and a number-one album in 2015. Following multiple years of heavy touring, the Shakes are taking some time off to leave space for the group’s defining frontwoman, the Janis Joplin–esque Howard, to explore a solo career. Howard’s opening singles from her shortly forthcoming first album, Jaime, include the bombastic “History Repeats” and the soulful “Stay High.” She’ll explore the album’s complete track list at her first Beacon gig, likely alongside the LP’s virtuosic pianist, Robert Glasper. 

Photo courtesy of Brittany Howard/Facebook

Brittany Howard
Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway (at West 75th Street), Upper West Side
Tuesday, September 24
8 p.m.
Tickets start at $51

Cécile McLorin Salvant at Lincoln Center

Two-time best vocal jazz album Grammy winner Salvant is probably the modern moment’s most versatile, most skilled and nuanced jazz singer. Following the release of her recent album, The Window, Salvant has crafted a semi-adult musical fairy-tale narrative (think: gender-flipped Beauty and the Beast) that draws from her French schooling, titled The Ogresse, with composer and bandleader Darcy James Argue. Following limited exposure of the work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, she’s staging Ogresse alongside the Mivos Quartet as one of the first shows of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2019-2020 concert season.

Photo courtesy of Cécile McLorin Salvant Music/Facebook

Cécile McLorin Salvant: The Ogresse
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater
10 Columbus Circle, 5th Floor (off West 60th Street), Upper West Side
Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28
8 p.m.
Tickets start at $40

For more fall concert recs, head to the app!