The Weekend Shortlist May 8 to 10
Bjork playing a bookstore rather than a venue in front of thousands of fans? You read right. Performing a piece composed by Dave Longstreth of The Dirty Projectors along with the band, she opts for this more intimate venue for a great cause, The Housing Works bookstore, which provides services to the homeless living with AIDS and HIV. For fans of macrobiotics, tofu, seitan and even fish, Souen is great for healthy food that won’t have you feeling like you shouldn’t have ordered that. Try the Broiled Tofu Okabe, which sees thick slices of tofu, broiled and topped with a sesame and sake paste ($11). One of the oldest bars in the city, Ear Inn offers cheap pints in a timeless environment. Walk through the doors and it’s like you’re in the early 1900s, though the occasional ringing cell phone will bring you back to reality. Possibly one of the best sandwich shops in the city, Alidoro has 40 kinds of amazing Italian sandwiches, all named.
Friday May 8
Reminiscent of the minimalist New York rock that the Velvet Underground made famous, that is one endearing quality that the Crystal Stilts offer up. Their album Alight is the Night is a lo-fi gem. Joining them are Blank Dogs, Religious Knives, and Dinowalrus. While Mexican restaurants may be everywhere, not all are created equal. One that stands out, in that hood, is Los Pollitos II. Having gone several times, what makes me come back for more are the Chilaquiles for brunch and the gorditas for dinner. The guacamole is damn good too. Did you say you like beer? I like beer! Hooray for puppies! At Pacific Standard, the front bar has 16 beers on tap and the back room looks like a high school library. I think this is my new favorite bar. Don’t forget to ask about the frequent drinker card program! I’m totally serious. If you like your coffee black, Gorilla Coffee specializes in deep roasted flavors and provides it through fair-trade.
Friday May 8
When the blues rock group Arc Angels began in the early 1990s, they included Charlie Sexton, Doyle Bramhall II, and members of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band Double Trouble, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon, who formed the band after the tragic death of Vaughn. Now after a decade, the remaining members minus Shannon have gotten back together and are playing and have a live CD/DVD coming out later this year. There’s some fine musicians in this group with Bramhall playing in recent years for Eric Clapton and touring with Roger Waters. One of the best Japanese restaurants in the city, Yama, serves up some of the hugest and freshest portions of sushi, while not being as expensive as you think. Close to Irving Plaza, 119 Bar is one dive where you can get cheap drinks, play pool, and hang with friends while not standing out or being bothered when you’re a sweaty mess from dancing after seeing Shadow and Chemist perform, and I mean that in a good way! If you’re bored and early for the show, head over to the four floor Barnes & Noble to look through magazines and get a cup of coffee.
Saturday May 9
Electronica act The Crystal Method return to the scene with a new album Divided By Night, which features a whole bunch of guest singers including Matisyahu. Live, expect plenty of hits and some great new material off their soon-to-be-released album. If you’ve never been to Minca for dinner, go right now! This small noodle bar makes some amazing ramen noodles from scratch. Try the Minca Ramen, a mild broth with pork, chicken & dried seafood ($8.50). One of the newer bars in the East Village, Common Ground has a dark wood interior, a relaxed atmosphere, and excellent cocktails like the Blueberry Pie. If you like pastries filled with cream, check out Beard Papa Sweets Café. They offer cream fillings like earl grey, green tea, coffee, and the standard vanilla, chocolate, strawberry among others.
Saturday May 9
Everyone’s favorite sex-metal band, The Giraffes return to their original stomping grounds, Mercury Lounge with a new album The Giraffes Ruled. Joining them are Fresh Kills and Hot Seconds. Expect some sort of pit! For dinner, The Stanton Social has earned a reputation for being a beautifully designed restaurant/lounge while serving up some delicious multi-ethnic cuisine. For drinks, a favorite of mine is The Magician, this bar’s chill atmosphere just may be the cure for a well-earned night of rocking. A great way to end the night? Stop by the Pink Pony. This boho café has been serving French food and coffee since the 80s and has a relaxing vibe. It’s as punk as that neighborhood gets nowadays.
Sunday May 10
Though you may currently know Nels Cline as the lead guitarist of Wilco, he’s also one of the best improvisational players around. He’s worked with Sonic Youth, Mike Watt, Willie Nelson, covered Coltrane extensively and performed on over 150 albums. So what he plays tonight is as good as anyone’s guess. Let’s face it, San Loco does not serve the greatest Mexican food ever. But it certainly isn’t bad. The prices are inexpensive, you can get a heaping amount of nachos for as little as $3.75, and telling by the heavy traffic, the place is doing just fine. What I like about Max Fish is that it’s a local bar for local artists. It’s walls play host monthly for art exhibitions, there’s a pool table in the back, and drinks aren’t pricey, like many new bars springing up in this neighborhood. For one of the best cupcakes in the city, Sugar Sweet Sunshine has 10 varieties, on top of cakes. Try the Sexy Red Velvet or the Bob, a yellow cupcake with chocolate almond buttercream.