The Month in Weird: June’s Best Avant-Garde Concerts

It’s a packed few weeks for even the most complex of tastes

Michael Coltun of Les Rhinocéros will be at The Stone Tuesday June 13th to Sunday June 18th. Facebook/Les Rhinocéros

The month of June officially ushers in the festival season and there’s plenty to chew on. There’s the massive Brooklyn-wide Northside Festival, the 10th Annual Red Hook Jazz Festival (on Sunday, June 11th and Sunday, June 18th), Infrequent Seams Festival at Willow Place Auditorium (on Monday, June 19th through Thursday, June 22nd), and Nothing / Everything Changes: Petr Kotik @ 75 with Philip Glass, George Lewis and Alex Mince with S.E.M. Ensemble, Jacqueline Leclair, Oboe, & Momenta Quartet at Le Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, June 21st.

If that doesn’t quench your thirst for the weird, the Grand Ole Opera Concert Series at Red Hook’s Pioneer Works kicks off Sunday, June 11th (Angel Deradoorian at Second Sunday) and continues on Friday, June 23rd (Lightning Bolt with Kill Alters and Twig Harper) and Saturday, June 24th (Black Pus with Burning Star Core and Eartheater).

Yet another highlight in this packed month happens at Littlefield on June 23rd when original members of Magnolia Electric Co. pay tribute to their singer/songwriter leader Jason Molina (a/k/a Songs: Ohia) who passed away in 2013. The tour is also doubling up as a concert/book reading as it coincides with the release of ‘Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost,’ the authorized biography and dissection of Molina’s life and work by author Erin Osmon.

The weird awaits.

Ramp Local Records and Wharf Cat Records official Northside Festival showcase featuring The Sediment Club, Buck Gooter, Snakehole, Pat Keen, Macula Dog and Old Maybe at Union Pool on Saturday, June 10th

The Northside Festival does its annual takeover of Brooklyn for its four-day swing from the 7th through the 11th with no shortage of incredible shows to pick from. One such high-ranking label showcase that is an absolute must-see is the monolithic lineup Ramp Local and Wharf Cat Records is carting out. The nascent one-two punch of both staunchly DIY, independent imprints has nodded to the artist-driven no wave movement (check out Ramp Local’s No New York-like Eclectic Sessions compilation series) and tonight is its coming out party. For weirdo music-seekers everywhere, tonight will offer up a treasure trove of some of the underground’s best art-punks: the spazz-core, no wave mayhem of The Sediment Club; Macula Dog’s childlike Devo-ish electro-dance video game-trashing throbs; the furious, fuzz-drenched noise-rock of Snakehole; the lo-fi, catchy garage-rock muck of Buck Gooter; and the acoustic-based tunesmithery of Pat Keen, who’s celebrating his just-released gem, Albatross.

Kate Gentile Mannequins CD Release Show at Korzo on Tuesday, June 13th  at 10:30 P.M. 

Saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed’s avant-jazz imprint Skirl Records has amassed a roster of some of the scene’s most forward thinking musicians. With recent records from Anna Webber, Matt Mayhall and Sebastien Ammann, the label has ascended towards the top of the creative music scene’s ranks. Skirl’s cred is further solidified by its latest release: Mannequins, the outstanding debut from Brooklyn-based drummer/composer Kate Gentile. Cut from a similar cloth as her bandmate, pianist Matt Mitchell, (do yourself a favor and seek out this year’s FØRAGE), Gentile’s compositions on Mannequins puts forth her virtuosic knack for the epically complex. From the set’s piano-stabbing get-go, Gentile plays the loose-limbed pilot, guiding her all-star band (Mitchell, Battle Trance tenor saxist/clarinetist Jeremy Viner and bassist Adam Hopkins) through a sonic maelstrom of mind-bending polyrhythmic acrobatics, knotty electronics-fueled spurts and darting and melodic sax and clarinet lines that recall the densely layered intricacies of Tim Berne. Like trumpeter Jaime Branch’s Fly Or Die, Gentile’s Mannequins is one exciting debut.

Michael Coltun (KOLTUN, Les Rhinocéros) Residency at The Stone, Tuesday June 13th to Sunday, June 18th

Klezmer-punk bassist Michael Koltun once described the spazzy fusion of art-punk, electronics knob-twiddling mashup and traditional Jewish music he makes in Les Rhinocéros as “world music without a country.” That otherworldly brew caught the ear of downtown avant-garde jazz ambassador John Zorn, who went on to release a batch of Les Rhino’s records via his Tzadik label. Zorn has now tapped Coltun for a week-long residency at his Avenue C performance space The Stone. The program promises to be a world music, free-improvisational shred-fest. Coltun will join forces with Brooklyn-via-Israel guitarist Yonatan Gat and Deerhoof drummer Gregory Saunier in their reimagining of Dvorak’s ‘American Quartet,’ a duo set with Yeah Yeah Yeahs percussionist Brian Chase plus a semi-rare Les Rhino appearance, just to name a few.

Coltun’s Stone stay is also highlighted by the debut of his new group, KOLTUN. Via email, Coltun explains the band’s name as “meaning someone with weird hair or one that doesn’t fit into society in old Polish/Russian/Yiddish.” With bandmates from Turkey and Lebanon, KOLTUN’s aesthetic runs deep on the global music he’s explored in Les Rhinocéros but sans the freak-outs. Instead, KOLTUN dips into trance-rock’y ambient soundscapes that naturally lean towards the rhythmic and melodious Jewish and Middle Eastern-flavored joyous rollick he’s proved master craftsman of. Click here for full calendar.

Bangladeafy with Three Trapped Tigers (U.K.) and Yoink at The Gateway on Thursday, June 15th

Not since Lightning Bolt wreaked havoc across DIY underground spaces in its heyday has there been a bass/drums duo as bat-shit complex as bionic-fingered, speedball beats-spraying NYC all-instrumental powerhouse, Bangladeafy. Last year’s Narcopaloma was fifteen glorious minutes of time-signature-chaotic bliss as bassist Jon Ehlers and drummer Atif Haq hit breakneck speed, piling on wads of punch-drunk riffs and a polyrhythmic onslaught that threw metal, prog and jazz fragments into its sonic salad. Witness this duo’s utter mayhem for yourself.

Tera Melos at Webster Hall on Saturday, June 17th

California sun-kissed psych-prog shapeshifters Tera Melos have been M.I.A. since 2013’s majestically snarled yet tuneful sprawl, X’ed Out, for good reason: Trippy guitarist/vocalist Nick Reinhart has kept busy with projects galore. On Imaginary Friends, Reinhart took a free-improv drums record bashed out by Brian Chippendale (Lightning bolt) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and, in a DIY bedroom-recorded experiment, invited himself in to the percussive maelstrom by layering an insane mishmash of guitarscapes, noise and drone into the mix and self-releasing the results. More recently, Reinhart shreds and wails on the self-titled debut of Big Walnuts Yonder, the avant-punk supergroup he shares with Minutemen/Stooges bassist Mike Watt, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Saunier. Now Reinhart is taking Tera Melos’ euphoric soup of top-down summer breeze riffs, warped and loop-heavy psychedelia and whiplashing intricacies on the road for a summertime jaunt with hopefully a new album in the works.

Cheer-Accident + Skryptor at the Trans-Pecos annex (a.k.a. Metal Kingdom Records; 890 Wyckoff Ave.) on Friday, June 23rd

Like fellow Chicago institutions The Flying Luttenbachers and U.S. Maple, Cheer-Accident rank way up there as classification-defying purveyors of musical mind-fuckery. The sheer brilliance and unpredictability this Chicago avant-everything crew has aced over its thirty-odd year, eighteen-album career arc has been one of constant reinventions, usually in the span of a single album. Whether experimenting with elegant pop, serrated art-rock and raging noise on seminal records like Introducing Lemon, their genre-smashing eclecticism has never ceased to confound the senses. That trickery continues on their first new set in six years, the dazzling Putting Off Death, an early contender to cop honors as best experimental record of the year. The opening twelve-minute tour de force “Language Is” is worth the price of admission alone, hurdling from lavish piano-tickling pop, notes-dizzy progressive rock, rumbling drone, majestic horn-fueled jazz to static garbling. A Cheer-Accident sighting is a rare occurrence in this parts so don’t miss your chance to witness its wizardry. Prog-metal supergroup Skryptor, featuring members of STATS, craw and Dazzling Killmen, open.

Honorable Mentions:

Peter Brötzmann and Heather Leigh at Issue Project Room on Wednesday, June 7th

Iconoclastic elder statesman Brötzmann joins forces with his oft-collaborator, electric pedal steel guitarist, Leigh.

Hannibal Montana // Barrows // Zevious at Gold Sounds on Wednesday, June 7th

Fretboard-hopping guitar slayer Lukas Brode leads Hannibal Montana through a special free-improv set with special guest drummer Kevin Shea of Talibam!

Brandon Seabrook Die Trommel Fatale Album Release Show at Joe’s Pub on Thursday, June 8th

Guitarist Brandon Seabrook presents his metal-prog opus, Die Trommel Fatale.

Summer Thunder Featuring Sun Ra Arkestra at Union Pool on Saturday, June 10th (2:00 pm)

Union Pool’s excellent Summer Thunder series once again features the uber-legendary, 93 years-young godsend Marshall Allen and the venerable Sun Ra Arkestra in what’s sure to be an uplifting, joyous celebration.

Man Forever (Record Release) at Brooklyn Music School on Wednesday, June 14th

Man Forever mastermind and Oneida drummer Kid Millions celebrates the release of the sublimely melodic, Play What You Want.

Multa Nox at C’mon Everybody with Wren Kitz, GOLD DIME & Guerilla Toss (DJ set) on Friday, June 16th

Electronics maven Sally Decker a/k/a Multa Nox creates droney, cathartic dreamscapes on the just-released Living Pearl out June 2nd via NNA Tapes.

Pharoah Sanders / Brooklyn Raga Massive: Coltrane Tribute at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival on Friday, June 23rd (Free)

Do not miss this chance to see avant-garde jazz sax icon Pharoah Sanders in all his glory and wisdom.

White Suns Psychic Drift Record Release Show at Secret Project Robot on Friday, June 30th

White Suns, a local noise-rock trio-turned-electronics duo, ring in the release of unsettling ear-bleeder, Psychic Drift.

The Month in Weird: June’s Best Avant-Garde Concerts