It’s a happy accident that this week’s show recommendations begin with a mellow evening at one of my favorite more intimate venues and grow in literal and auditory dimensions, culminating with three big, stadium-sized, stiletto-heeled kicks in the pants (if you can swing Beyoncé’s steep ticket prices), with boisterous pop rock, legendary soul swagger and dance-ready arrangements along the way.
BEST 1990s THROWBACK
Wednesday, July 31
The Bell House (149 7th St.)
Folk music mingles with electronica in the hands of English singer-songwriter and 1990s mainstay Beth Orton. The often moody electronic elements combined with Orton’s haunting, signature vocal lilt made her tunes ideal for early aughts film and television soundtracks like Vanilla Sky and Roswell. Orton’s recent releases rest more heavily on her folk inclinations, which we hear with rich and poignant precision on her latest album, 2012′s Sugaring Season. Her voice still bears the influences of Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, but with a maturity and plainspoken honesty earned after almost 20 years in the biz.
BEST SMALL VENUE SHOW
The Love Language, Eternal Summers and Nightdogs
Thursday, August 1
Tickets $10 in advance/$12 at the door
Glasslands (289 Kent Ave.)
The years passed slowly following the 2010 release of Love Language‘s perennially listenable Libraries, a record I still play with almost methodical frequency, and as time ticked by I worried that this Raleigh, N.C. band wouldn’t make it past their sophomore release. My fears were ill-founded. The band released their third effort, Ruby Red, on July 23, a record that finds songwriter and frontman Stuart McLamb maintaining some of his lo-fi sensibilities, but with a brighter polish. This record needs a few listens to fully breathe, but when I saw them at the Rock Shop a few years ago they nearly blew the top off the tiny venue. Expect some drama, killer drums and a whole lotta sweat.
BEST OUTDOOR SHOW
D’Angelo, Questlove and Thundercat
Thursday, August 1
Williamsburg Park (North 12 St. and Kent Ave.)
At outdoor shows, I usually advocate sitting just outside the park’s boundaries and listening free of charge rather than springing for a pricy ticket, but this is one of those “see it to believe it” shows. Reclusive singer D’Angelo hasn’t released a proper album since his 2000 definitive neo-soul record Voodoo, but recently he’s debuted new tracks at some of his tireless live performances (you can catch a clip of Sugar Daddy below). His keyboard skills may be storied, but his punctuality isn’t: New Yorker music writer Sasha Frere-Jones tweeted yesterday that D’Angelo’s publicist suggests concertgoers stow some snacks for Thursday’s show.
BEST FREE AND FUNKY SHOW
Jamie Lidell, Dan Deacon and The Stepkids at Celebrate Brooklyn! Prospect Park Bandshell
Friday, August 2
6:30pm doors/7:30pm show
FREE ($3 suggested)
Prospect Park Bandshell
Another week, another free show at the Prospect Park bandshell. This Friday, expect some sorta soul-electro-pop dance party hybrid to go down at the bandshell, thanks to co-headliners Jamie Lidell and Dan Deacon. The former is known for live vocal looping, beat boxing, track layering and black, thick-framed glasses, while Deacon is famous for floor-level setups, large-scale audience participation, “Drinking Out of Cups” and thin-framed red glasses. Psychedelic soul act The Stepkids favors kaleidoscopic light projections during live shows. Ah, I can just see those glow sticks now.
OMG IT’S MRS. CARTER!
Beyoncé’s The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour
Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4
Beyoncé’s “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” lands in Mr. Carter’s hometown, kicking off a three-day stint at the Barclay’s Center. I’m expecting multiple costume changes, fatigue-defying dance numbers and plenty of reminders of who runs the world (girls).