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NYC Memorial Day Weekend 2016 Events & Concerts

Joan of Arc (photo by Chris Strong)

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and with it the unofficial start of the summer with backyard BBQs, blockbuster movies (X-Men Apocalypse), and taking it easy. Some folks might be heading out of town for Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore, or Bled Fest in Michigan or this year’s Boston Calling. Or maybe you’re heading to Montauk for the weekend, where you can catch Bob Moses and The Arcs at The Surf Lodge’s opening weekend of free 2016 shows. If you’re staying in the immediate NYC area for the long weekend we have some good musical options for things to do:

‘Testimonium’ ft. Joan of Arc @ Knockdown Center (May 26, 27 & 28)
Back in 2013, Joan of Arc teamed with experimental theater ensemble Every house has a door for the performance piece Testimonium, which eventually resulted in Joan of Arc recording the music they wrote for it as Testimonium Songs. Now they’re set to give Testimonium its New York premiere at the Knockdown Center in Queens. It begins tonight (5/26) and continues through Saturday (5/28), and each performance features a live original score by Joan of Arc. [Andrew Sacher]

Phil Lesh & Friends @ The Capitol Theatre (May 27, 28 & 29)
We’re still feeling the Grateful Dead mania (and if you’re a Deadhead, you’re never not feeling the Grateful Dead mania), so it’s perfect timing to catch one, two, or all three Phil Lesh & Friends shows just outside of NYC. Phil always plays the classics, and he’s got a good lineup at these shows. Frequent Phil Lesh & Friends member Warren Haynes (Allman Bros, Gov’t Mule) is on guitar/vocals and he’s always one of Phil’s best collaborators, but most excitingly, longtime Jerry Garcia Band keyboardist Melvin Seals will be playing with Phil Lesh & Friends for the first time ever (on the Saturday and Sunday shows only). [Andrew Sacher]

The Body, Uniform, Muslin @ Saint Vitus (May 27)
Noise-metal provocateurs The Body bring their tour to NYC on Friday, where they’ll be joined by local noisemakers Uniform< and Muslin. The Body, always collaborating with someone in the metal world, have two albums out this year; their collaboration with Full of Hell and their solo “gross pop” album No One Deserves Happiness. They’re a seasoned road outfit at this point and their confrontational approach comes across in a deafening, chaotic live set that should appeal to all who like their metal served extra harsh and alienating. [Rob Sperry-Fromm]

SAVAK, Sunwolf, Puff Pieces, Super Silver Haze @ Shea Stadium (May 27)
SAVAK, which includes members of Obits, Holy Fuck and Nation of Ulysses, pull from a lot of different influences as can be heard on their terrific debut album, Best of Luck In Future Endeavors. Those influences all work their way in naturally, as you might expect on a record made by friends without eyes on the charts. Tonight’s the release party and it’s got a pretty cool undercard: Sunwolf (ft. Jerry Busher of late-period Fugazi/French Toast), Super Silver Haze (ft. Brendan Canty), and Puff Pieces (Mike Andre and Justin Moyer of Antelopes). [Bill Pearis]

Luna @ The Bell House (May 27)
Luna, who reunited last year after a decade off, haven’t dated a bit with their mellow and witty post-VU sound. Tonight’s show is officially sold-out but there are sometimes tickets available when the box office opens night of show. [BP]

Seaport Smorgasburg Concerts (May 28, 29, 30)
Smorgasburg is returning to South Street Seaport again, opening this Memorial Day Weekend and in celebration there will be free shows just outside the Fulton Market Building (Fulton St. at Front St.) during the day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. On Saturday, May 28 you can see Flower Girl and RIPS; on Sunday, May 29 it’s Montreal’s Sheer Agony and Heavy Birds; and on Memorial Day (May 29) you can see Katie Von Schleicher, and Patrick Freeman. Live performances are from 3-5 PM. [BP]

Yumi Zouma, Maria Usbeck @ National Sawdust (Saturday, May 28)
Yumi Zouma‘s debut album, Yoncalla, just came out and it’s light, R&B-tinged synthpop in the best possible way: airy without dissolving into the ether, with memorable songs and perfect understated production. The New Zealand band celebrate at this show featuring former Selebrities singer Maria Usbeck whose gorgeous new album, Amparo, was also just released. [BP]

Heron Oblivion, Chris Forsyth, Spacin @ Union Pool (May 28)
Psychedelic folk rock supergroup Heron Oblivion is fronted by Meg Baird, and also features members of Comets on Fire and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, and earlier this year they released their excellent self-titled debut on Sub Pop. Meg’s own music often feels hushed and gentle, like the cult psych-folk singers of the late ’60s and early ’70s, but here she’s howling in a way that’s more Fairport Convention than Vashti Bunyan. The band doesn’t just sound like a throwback to British folk rock though. As the Comets on Fire and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound members do in those projects, they’re bringing a serious dose of heavy psych and stoner rock to Meg’s more delicate voice. Not to mention lots and lots of wah pedal. The Union Pool show on Saturday (5/28) is their first NYC show, and it’s got good openers too (sold out). [Andrew Sacher]

Ex Cult @ Acheron (May 28) & Mercury Lounge (May 29)
Memphis punks Ex Cult clearly like coming to NYC during Memorial Day Weekend — they did the same thing two years ago. With killer new single “Stick the Knife In” out now, they’ve lined up great openers for both shows: Pop. 1280, Tournament, and Decorum at Saturday’s Acheron show, and Dion Lunadon (of A Place to Bury Strangers) at Mercury Lounge. [BP]

Wireheads @ Alphaville (May 27), Shea Stadium (May 28), Silent Barn (May 29)
Adelaide, Australia’s Wireheads make a brand of indie rock that seems particular to their country: boozy and unhinged, sometimes dissonant and shouty, sometimes twangy, with a drony violin pulling a through-line. The band are in NYC for three shows this weekend. The Alphaville show is a particularly good bill with B Boys, and Surfbort. [BP]

Cro-Mags, Sheer Terror, CIV & more @ Highline Ballroom (May 29)
This is a show with a great lineup for a great cause. It’s a benefit for Alexander Owens, a three-year old battling cancer who Cro-Mags frontman John Joseph is also running a race in Hawaii to raise money for. And it’s loaded with NYHC royalty. Cro-Mags and Sheer Terror are just about as OG as it gets, and they’re still worth seeing today. At least as exciting is CIV, Anthony Civarelli’s post-Gorilla Biscuits band whose shows are pretty rare these days. If you like punk/hc at all, this is a tough show to pass up.

Not enough options? We recommend these shows too:

A Giant Dog, The Mad Doctors, The Nude Party, Best Behavior @ Our Wicked Lady (5/27)

Jo Firestone, Aparna Nancherla, Ben Kronberg, Nick Turner, Nick Vatterott @ Union Hall (5/27)

Fred Thomas (of Saturday Looks Good To Me), Kyle Forester, Drug Pizza, DYGL @ Cake Shop (May 28)

Kayo Dot, Yautja, Geryon @ Saint Vitus (5/28)

Mass Gothic, Boytoy, Dogs of Oz, TURF DURT @ Sunnyvale (5/28)

King Missile, John S. Hall & Dogbowl @ Cake Shop (May 29)

Alejandro Escovedo, Steve Poltz @ City Winery (5/30)

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