* Bad Brains + GZA @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 7p/SOLD OUT. Duh, of course this is sold out, dudes. Bad Brains' frontman HR might be pulling that blissed-out routine but don't doubt for a second these DC original punks squander any full-throttle ferocity on his smoked dub. Plus, steely Wu-Tang lyricist GZA performs "Liquid Swords", one of the pillars of East Coast hip-hop. That's right.
* Unsound Opening Night: Jenny Hval + Julia Holter + Julia Kent @ ISSUE Project Room / 110 Livingston St, Boerum Hill (45 to Borough Hall, 23 to Hoyt St, AC/F to Jay St/Metrotech), 9p/$15. The third annual Unsound Festival kicks off in a big way, in this gathering of the "J's": Norwegian avant-garde soundscaper Hval, NYC-based cellist/vocalist Kent, and LA singer-songwriter Holter.
* "Four Sticks" feat. unkie + about tess @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 6p/2500 yen. Totally apt name for this night of fast and furious instrumental rock. The math-y six-piece about tees contribute two of those "sticks", and a third goes to unkie's thrash-happy drumming. w/ Aureole
* Nina Yuen "The School" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. Huge Yuen fan here, ever since her 2010 debut at the gallery enchanted me to no end. The NJ-based artist debuts a series of five recent videos as "The School", revolving around memory, childhood, and related rites of passage, incl. "Mr. President" and "Heather Who".
* Alan Michael "Back to the Docks" @ Marc Jancou Contemporary / 524 W 24th St. The Scottish artist's first NY exhibition, feat. a new series of paintings and works on paper appropriating abstract ideas.
* "Suspiria" (dir. Dario Argento, 1977) screening @ MAD Museum / 2 Columbus Circle (CE/123 to 59th St/Columbus Circle), 7p. THE Dario Argento film (and more broadly, THE giallo film) finds the mad Italian master at his bloodiest Technicolor best. Beginning w/ a breath-catching opening gore-fest and sweeping into a tornado of Goblin-induced psychedelia w/ girls dying off one by one as their dance academy manifests a portal to a witches' coven!
* Melvins (Washington) + Unsane (NYC) @ Mohawk / 912 Red River, 7p/$20. Original drone-rock lords Melvins coat the 'Hawk in several layers of rumbling sludge. That's after NY's anti-fun Unsane wallop you upside the head with the most cathartic noise rock, ever. Think you're hardcore? w/ Same Sack
* SUNDAYS @ Shinjuku Marble / 2-45-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, Kabukicho Exit), 6p/2500. SUNDAYS frontwoman Fuyumi Kobayashi is like a much cuter, female version of Iggy Pop, sashaying about the stage while shouting her vocals and flinging sweat into the mouths of adoring fans. Who's harder-core than SUNDAYS? A: in Tokyo? Nobody. w/ The Homesicks
* Martha Rosler "Cuba, January 1981" @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. The first exhibition of Rosler's vintage b&w photography series, taken during a cultural tour of Cuba organized by artist Ana Mendieta and writer/curator Lucy Lippard, presenting a crucial period in modern history. Rosler was just honored at the Brooklyn Museum's annual gala.
* "Goodbye First Love" (dir. Mia Hansen-Løve, 2011) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Youth romance never looked so stunning, starring cutiepie Lola Créton ("Bluebeard") and shot by the amazing young director Hansen-Løve. Part of the 2011 NYFF.
* "Inferno" (dir. Dario Argento, 1980) screening @ MAD Museum / 2 Columbus Circle (CE/123 to 59th St/Columbus Circle), 7p. What "Suspiria" started, this underappreciated supernatural "sequel" of sorts sends straight to hell, a hell full of torrential downpours, mysterious music-school students (cue the beguiling Ania Pieroni, wind and sun in her hair), possessed cats and lots of killin'!
* Unsound Fest 2012: Pole + Sun Araw Band @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), 6p/$15. Dude, this is MAYJAH: Stefan "Pole" Betke, the Cologne genius behind glitch-electronic trilogy "1, 2, 3" performs LIVE during Unsound Fest. Apparently he's become pretty funky now, but I'm game for whatever. Plus avant-afrobeat champs Sun Araw Band.
* Heliotropes @ The Grand Victory / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$8. I think my second or third time seeing Brooklyn all-grrrl stoner rockers Heliotropes was at Bruar Falls, now called The Grand Victory. I mean, the joint could be called "Terminal 5" and I'd still haul my ass out to see Heliotropes rock the roof off with their sludgy riffs. w/ Vagina Panther
* "Oldboy" (dir. Park Chan-wook, 2003) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 11p. One of the greatest openers in contemporary cinema and THE film that put Korean auteur Park on the Western film map. Feat. a batshit side-scrolling-style action sequence involving a rangy Choi Min-sik and his trusty hammer vs. like 30 bad guys! Also feat. so many devastating plot twists, it's better I don't tell you any more. The less you know, the heavier this ultimate revenge drama hits. ALSO SAT
* Brice Marden "New Paintings" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 526 W 22nd St. Considering his measured and deliberate (OK: slow) work style, this new two-part exhibition of Marden's paintings unveils a ton of new material, all created after his traveling retrospective that commenced at MoMA in 2007. At the gallery's 502 space, Marden shows "Ru Ware Project", nine small rainwater-blue panels echoing the rarest of ancient Chinese pottery. Twelve oil-on-marble works from Hydra fill the 526 space, plus the large oil on linen work "Polke Letter", in homage to Marden's contemporary Sigmar Polke.
* "La terza madre/Mother of Tears" (dir. Dario Argento, 2007) screening @ MAD Museum / 2 Columbus Circle (CE/123 to 59th St/Columbus Circle), 7p. Twenty-seven years after "Inferno", Argento concludes his "Three Mothers" trilogy w/ this gruesome contemporary masterpiece, unloading his dear daughter Asia as the witch's target and only threat.
* Memoryhouse (Ontario) @ Public Assembly / 70 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$14. Nascent hypnopop par excellent! C'est Memoryhouse. w/ Matteah Balm
* The Suzan @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8:30p/$10. I count Japanese all-girl tropic-pop band The Suzan as among the coolest, most creative acts on the local scene. Japan, let's keep 'em awhile longer, please? w/ Terry Malts
* "This Is It With It As It Is" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. The exhibition title is echoed in Eve Fowler's text painting, riffing off Gertrude Stein's "How to Write" and forming a conceptual framework of language and reference explored by Fowler and her LA-based artistic kindred. Math Bass, Dashiell Manley, and Barry Macgregor Johnston add respective ingredients to the equation, plus each contribute a performance, in conjunction with Fusebox's eponymous 2012 Festival (check back in early May for that info).
* Garbage @ La Zona Rosa / 612 W 4th St, 8p/SOLD OUT! The epic, glorious crunch of "Blood for Poppies", lead single off upcoming LP "Not Your Kind of People"—Garbage's first in six years and signaling their first live performances since 2007—caused many a darkling to swoon…or just totally get down. Because the wildly influential alt-rockers, anchored by überproducer Butch Vig and fronted by celestial contralto Shirley Manson, are totally back again.
* Curren$y @ Mohawk / 912 Red River, 8p/$25. In my experience, Austin tends to have better weed than NYC—or better immediate connections unless we're talking Canada. That's a good thing when smoked-out lyricist Curren$y rolls up on his "Jet Life Tour", w/ The Jets (Smoke DZA, Fiend 4 Da Money, Corner Boy P, Trademark and Young Roddy).
* Yuichiro Natori @ Kido Press, Inc / 6F 1-3-2 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Toei Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station). Gorgeous, painted cut-paper animation in a charming, new video from the Tokyo artist, plus static works and sketches.
* Nana Funo @ Tomio Koyama Gallery / 7F 1-3-2 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station). The young artist from Shizuoka includes drawing notebooks in her second solo exhibition at the gallery, plus kaleidoscopically detailed mixed media paintings of engrossing fantasy worlds.
+ Mika Ninagawa "Plant a Tree". The photographer and director (her feature film debut "Sakuran" I dug like totally) amps up the seasonal saturation.
* 「裏切りサーカス」/"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (dir. Thomas Alfredson, 2011) @ TOHO Cinemas Charter / 1-2-2- Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku (Yurakucho Line to Yurakucho Station, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi/Hibiya/Ginza Lines to Ginza Station). Japanese title for the labyrinthine adaptation of John le Carré's modern espionage novel translates as "Traitor Circus", which sounds both kind of funnily to-the-point and also reveals the circa '73 codeword for British Intelligence, i.e. "the Circus". Anyway, Gary Oldman and team are awesome, no matter how dense the plot.
* 「センチメンタルヤスコ」 @ Eurospace / 1-13 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit). Living in the darkness of solitude in this modern age, "Sentimental Yasuko" tries to overcome loneliness via blips of love from the dudes around her. Then some bad shit goes down. Starring Azusa Okamoto, the teen idol from detective story J-drama "Strawberry Night".
* Japan Shoegazer Fest 2012 @ Koenji High / 4-30-1 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (Chuo Line to Koenji Station), 12p/3500 yen. Yep, I absolutely definitely wish I were in Tokyo now for this awesome slice of regional, glorious noise. Feat. Lemon's Chair (Osaka), PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET (Morioka-shi), Sugardrop (Tokyo), Shojo Skip (Tokyo) +tons more.
* Who the Bitch @ Shelter / B1 2-6-10 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku (Keio Inokashira Line to Shimokitazawa Station, South Exit), 7p/SOLD OUT! What do you expect with a night billing itself as "Who the Fuck vol. 13: WILD Bitch Party!!", with suggestions for enjoying Who the Bitch vs. FUZZY CONTROL as 1) go bonkers (at least 3x more than usual), 2) pound back drinks, and 3) get naked (body and mind).
* Miila and the Geeks @ Shibuya HOME / B1F 1-10-7 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Miyamasuzaka Exit), 11p/2000 yen. After like a solid year of touring in support of slightly sinister, garage-rock debut "New Age", the lovable indie-pop trio Miila and the Geeks are baaaack! Singer/songwriter Moe Wadaka's group (she's Miila, saxophonist Komori and drummer Ajima the geeks), are a triumph for the indie scene, plus Moe's behind the band's fractured lovely music videos. w/ Moscow Club
* DODDODO @ Basement Bar / B1F 5-18-1 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu/Keio Inokashira Line to Shimo-kitazawa Station, South Exit), 6:30p/2500 yen. What's iller than Kansai noise-sprite Namin Haku, aka DODDODO? A: almost nothing, but the addition of consummate spaz-rockers Zoobombs comes close!
* "Towards a Warm Math" @ On Stellar Rays / 133 Orchard St. The title riffs off exhibiting artist Lucas Blalock's book and hints at what's in store: works that mingle mathematics and science with ooey-gooey humanism and personal effects. Feat. Brody Condon, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Ionel Talpazan, Guy de Cointet, Barbara Kasten, the mighty Yayoi Kusama, and more.
* Shabazz Palaces (Seattle) + !!! (Cali) @ Mohawk / 912 Red River, 6:30p/$14. Bicoastal funk-bop ensemble !!!—Chk Chk Chk to you newbies—lead the Hill Country's sweatiest dance-off, w/ short-shorts-clad Nic Offer and (hopefully!) Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess directing the action. Seattle hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces headline, led by Ishmael Butler (aka "Butterfly", one esteemed third of next-level rappers Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire. w/ 10yr
* "Makoto Aida's World" @ Mori Art Museum / Roppongi Hills Mori Tower (53F), 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station), 3p/FREE. In expectation for Nov's surely bonkers career retrospective of Japanese contemporary art's most subversive—think the anti-pop Murakami—the museum stages a three-part seminar on Aida-san, feat. a talk by Mori curator Mami Kataoka; Tetsuya Ozaki (editor-in-chief of "REALTOKYO") leads a wild discussion on Aida's work w/ Mariko Asabuki (author of "KITOTOWA" and winner of the 144th Akutagawa Prize), Eiichiro Kokubo (Division of Theoretical Astronomy at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), and Nameko Shinsan (media activist, columnist, and manga artist); finally an overview of the "Makoto Aida: Heisei-kanjin Project".
* FEVER 3rd Anniversary, feat. TADZIO, Shinji Masuko etc @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 7p/3000 yen. The two PYTs who play as TADZIO unleash some of Tokyo's most ferocious noise-rock. Don't underestimate 'em. Plus the charismatic Shinji Masuko (of Boredoms!) and the Floating Guitar Orchestra. w/ Live Loves
* Lotte Van den Audenaeren "Potentialis" @ Moore St Market / 110 Moore St, Bushwick (L to Montrose, JM to Flushing), 5:30p. The engaging Belgian multimedia artist, completing her ISCP residency this May, unveils her most recent site-specific urban intervention. She leads a walkthrough at 5:30p, followed by a roundtable discussion.
* "Sound of my Voice" (dir. Zal Batmanglij, 2011) @ reRun Theatre / 147 Front St, DUMBO (F to York St, AC to High St), 7p/FREE (arrive early!). Pretty neat: straight off Sundance and SXSW comes this contemporary cultish infiltration by lovably nerdy couple Peter & Lorna…only once inside, the otherworldliness of the group—and particularly charismatic young leader Maggie (Brit Marling)—could prove to be their undoing. Marling, who cowrote the film, attends this preview screening w/ dir. Batmanglij for a Q&A.
* Nite Jewel @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 7:30p/$15. I've been digging the gauzy pop refrains of Nite Jewel (né Ramona Gonzalez) since her 2010 EP "Am I Real?"—and her spanking new LP "One Second of Love" totally affirms that. w/ Mac deMarco
* "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (dir. Robert Fuest, 1971) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 10p. The late, great Vincent Price plays a severely disfigured genius enacting revenge on the doctors he believes killed his hot wife—via the "Ten Plagues of Egypt" method! Like: a mechanical frog mask, ice machine, and a "Hostel"-worthy death by locusts. So I ask you: "Are you…ready…for Dr. Phibes?"
* Leif Low-beer @ Okay Mountain / 1619 E Cesar Chavez. I was pretty stoked to hear that Brooklynite Low-beer—who I'd met at Astoria, Queen's Socrates Sculpture Park last May (his array of brightly colored objects and forms was a highlight of that group exhibition and turned notions of "public sculpture" on its ear)—was inaugurating Okay Mountain's new space. I was doubly stoked when I arrived and found one of Low-beer's beguiling arrays (I think titled "Olive pit pedestal") crowning off an exhibition including sculptural/mixed-media hybrids and works on paper. Agglomerations including painted bead-like stacks, geometric interventions and what resembles Haim Steinbach's signature "dog chew-toys" rearrange themselves depending on POV, retaining the artist's presence and hand much as his collaged drawings and spatially distorting photography.
* "Memento Mori" @ Grayduck Gallery / 608 W Monroe Dr. I've been working off a mortality tip in these Austin-area galleries. First Tiny Park, now Grayduck. This group exhibition, w/ Suzanne Koett (photography), John Mulvany (painting), and Cherie Weaver (mixed media), features local talent adept at locking humanity in a historical context. Mulvany, Irish-born and Texas-based, achieves this by painting figures from the Irish Civil War as beatific spirits looming over the sun-bleached Hill Country landscape. Retaining the figures' sepia-toned palette against the vistas' blues, greens, and earth-tones—plus the ornate retablo/devotional halos crowning them—Mulvany comments on the cyclical presence of his subjects. As in: the recurrences of war and religious movements. Weaver utilizes a ton of vintage cabinet cards in her ageless works, but they tend to be linking points or jump-offs to larger or multi-part dialogues, like the almost titular "Momentum Mori" and its pools of sumi-e echoed in the photograph's checkerboard floor, or her composites on translucent unstretched linen. I first began digging Koett's photography at this Austin-area artist group show at Gallery Black Lagoon last year, thanks to her bracing "Sabbat" series. She includes works from "The Study of Aloneness" here, ghostly composites of same-looking girls levitating in a forest's fog ("Power For Power") or in a Brutalist garage ("Rejoice, We Made the Right Choice"). It's like her "twins" are the guides for this exhibition's ideas and imagery, ushering us between consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death, to contemplate our respective existences.
* Holly Wilson "It's a Thin Line" @ Wally Workman Gallery / 1202 W Sixth St. My favorite part of this Oklahoma-based artist's solo exhibition was her molding of shiny encaustic on painted birch panels, blending the cast-bronze long-limbed sprites that recur elsewhere in the show w/ 2D space in a really stunning sculpture-painting hybrid. Elsewhere, the bird-masked girls (or sometimes boys) perched on carved poplar and red oak are handsome in their inherent vulnerabilities.
* Sarah Milbrath "Territory" @ Forus Gallery / 608 W 51st St. Pair domestic animals with their respective understandings of personal boundaries and invisible borders, and you have a very conscious, very cute photography show by the Austin-based artist. Milbrath's own connection with her subjects adds a whole 'nother layer to this series, as her nearness could elicit a dog's mournful gaze or a cat's wary stare—then she clicks the shutter.
* Conrad Bakker "Untitled Project: RECORD SHOP [45s] @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. I visited Tokyo indie gallery eitoeiko during New City Art Fair in NYC and noted they were showing artist Masaru Aikawa, whose signature style includes hand-painting CD-sized squares of canvas to expertly replicate CD artwork, only in obviously painterly style. Bakker is also re-presenting music as art, in this case rough-hewn wooden "45's" painted to mimic album jackets, but his execution feels uniquely Bakker-ish. Meaning: he doesn't go as far as Aikawa in the trompe-l'oeil effect, so his artwork, while clearly resembling LPs (Depeche Mode and Phil Collins here, Bob Marley and Joni Mitchell there), more accurately look like little paintings, down to their respective quirky, handmade essences.
* Fred Sandback "Decades" @ David Zwirner / 519 W 19th St. A really fine survey of Sandback's long career of spatial interventions spanning three decades of work. His "Untitled (Sculptural Study, Four-part Mikado Construction)" features four aqua acrylic yarns zigzagging across half the front gallery, while the Kerf-cut Plexiglas "Untitled" emulates his linear sculptures while remaining fully 2D. The even crazier "16 Variations of 2 Diagonal Lines" explores front and back galleries with opposing pinkie-thick bands of yellow yarn, boring through walls and careening through diagonal space. An artist's book and selection of drawings fill out the show.
* Douglas Huebler "Crocodile Tears" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. I went into this sorta Existentialist show from the Estate of Huebler knowing little about the man except that he paired text and images with panache. I left with a solid appreciation of his "Variable Piece"—a project to "photographically document the existence of everyone alive"—that slid between conceptual reconfigurations of Magritte, Cézanne, Gauguin and Mondrian with photography and Huebler's own text.
* Paul Graham "The Present" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. Pace debuts the NY-based British photographer's latest body of work, his first exhibition in the States since 2009. "The Present" includes diptych and triptych photographic works, highlighting serendipitous moments of a city constantly in motion. A new monograph, published by MACK, accompanies the exhibition.
* Liz Magic Laser @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. Were you cool enough to catch Laser's Performa-commissioned video "I Feel Your Pain", performed, filmed and edited live in the midst of a theatre audience during last year's Performa 11? The end result is featured here, alongside the live performance "The Digital Face", which became a two-channel slide projection in the gallery.
* Hitomi Motoki "The fantasy bedroom-Girl and Foretaste-" @ Gallery MOMO / 2F 6-2-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). Motoki conjures a dreamworld of absurdity and nostalgia in her figurative carved-wood sculpture and installation. (ENDS SAT)
* The Generational: "The Ungovernables" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Spring St). Eungie Joo curated a superb iteration of the New Museum's Generational triennial. Stoked as I was for the 2009 inaugural, cheekily coined "Younger Than Jesus", it was so in-your-face that it left little deep meanings after I left the exhibition. Not so with "The Ungovernables", a panoply of 34 artists, groups and temporary collectives who are all about as young as Jesus and most have never exhibited "here" before. Here meaning in the U.S., so this is an awesome gaze into the greater art-making world, with its complicated cultural surroundings—take the artist-led initiative Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Project for one, Tel Aviv-based performative research group Public Movement as another. Lebanese artist Hassan Khan's booming, swaying video installation "Jewel", of a dance-off b/w two Middle Eastern men; Mounira Al Solh's wall of figurative drawings executed in the guise of a male; and Jose Antonio Vega Macotela's temporal "Time Exchanges" with inmates each comment on identity and relation, as does Pilvi Takala's impassive takedown of a Helsinki office-space—and all this is on just the 2nd fl. Julia Dault's delicate rolled Plexi and Slavs & Tatars' "Prayway" rug with rice-burner fluorescents are some of the 3rd Fl's most eye-catching. And on the 4th fl, even the artists who have shown "here" bring a multifaceted experience of moving through contemporary society, like Danh Vo's "WE THE PEOPLE", a deconstructed part of the Statue of Liberty, fabricated with pounded copper sheets in China and installed like parts of a massive candy wrapper; or Londoner Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's haunting portraiture paintings of figures existing not in reality, though their enlivening gaze won't leave us alone. And there's Adrian Villar Rojas' much-buzzed modular behemoth "A person loved me", rendered on-site in fragile clay as artifact and beautiful artwork formed by minimal resources and expert teamwork. You'll want to excavate further, to really know these artists, their backgrounds and current concerns and approaches. (ENDS SUN)
* E.V. Day & Kembra Pfahler "GIVERNY" @ The Hole / 312 Bowery. So beyond the gorgeous photographs by Day (taken at an artist residency at Giverny) feat. Pfahler in her Karen Black getup posing amid waterlilies and Japanese foot-bridges is the artworks' surrounding installation: a recreation of Monet's Giverny garden, replete w/ aforementioned waterlilies and Japanese foot-bridge. Damn awesome. (ENDS TUE)