10 Gigs to Book Now (21/05)
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We can all agree that Kanye West is making a lot of noise right now. And by that we mean he is back on his regularly-scheduled bullshit wagon/involved in an ambitious piece of performance art - depending on who you ask. Luckily for us, there's some great gigs on to drown out the noise: catch what is arguably Yeezy's best record played by an orchestra; booty bounce with Le1f; mosh to Wavves; or get your jazz-on with Afro-Latinx collectives Ariwo and Penya.
Joe Armon-Jones has worked tirelessly to bring the South London jazz scene to the forefront of UK music. Now, the keyboard player and producer is gearing up to release his debut album Starting Today, which is a collection of experimental songs fusing jazz, Afrobeat, soul, hard bop and more. Don't miss a chance to see this live.
Queer rap is having its moment, and deservedly so. In the past few years, we've seen the rise of Cakes Da Killa, Mykki Blanco, and now, New York sweetheart Le1f. Since he came onto our radar with his banging tune 'Wut' in 2014, he's been our go-to for party music - with hard beats, even harder bars and death drops a'plenty, this club show in Birthdays' basement is gonna be a sure-fire way to get your ass shakin' this weekend.
When Kanye released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it felt like the bar had been well and truly raised in the hip hop game. Besides featuring some of the strongest guest verses we've ever heard (umm, Nicki on 'Monster', anyone?), the way Ye combined hip hop, eclectic production, lyrical content and a strong aesthetic made his fifth studio record an instant classic. If MBDTF wasn't cinematic enough, now you can hear the whole thing reinterpreted in full by a 16-piece orchestra at XOYO. This is a must-see.
It seems particularly fitting that LA four-piece Wavves are making their long-awaited UK return in the summer - after all, they're the sunniest punks around. Led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Williams, these dudes have been releasing indie punk bops about the crushing weight of existence and everything that comes with it - y'know, love, sadness, cats, the usual. Their live shows are known to be absolute stormers, so get your best crowd-surfing get-up on and head over to The Dome.
At a gig you rarely ever get the full package - live music, belly dancing, poetry, drawing, costumes, visual projections. You know, the works. If this sounds completely out of this world to you, well, forget what you know, because this is a BaBa ZaLu gig. Known for their full-experience live show, the Turkish experimental folk collective are bringing over their tunes so that we can all celebrate the vibrancy of music and art together.
You might have never thought ancestral music could mix in perfectly with electronica, but Ariwo are here to prove to you that it can be done seamlessly. With a name that translates into "noise" in Yoruba, the experimental four-piece is a celebration of the bridge between traditional Cuban and Iranian music. At this gig, you'll be taken on a musical journey through the diaspora, challenging all the perceptions of ancestral music in today's society.
With endless praise from the master curator Gilles Peterson himself, Penya are on their way to becoming one of the most heralded experimental groups in the UK music circuit. Led by lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Lilli Elina, the group combine Afro and Latinx sounds bound together by sleek electronic productions. If you're looking for a gig that's just as danceable as it is ambient, then this is the one for you.
If you're after a wild Wednesday, then look no further, because DZ Deathrays are Oz's #1 party boys. The thrashy indie duo are known for their amped-up, raucous live shows - but beyond the crazy party personas, you've got two dudes who, at the root of it all, just make really fun tunes full of punchy guitars, brazen vocals and pounding drums. Just make sure you wear your oldest t-shirt - you're gonna be ringing it out in a Soho alleyway once these two are done with you.
As the youngest son of the legendary Fela Kuti, Seun has been leading the ring in his late father's band, Egypt 80 - here you will embark on a sonic journey in Afrobeat, African funk, jazz and soul, all led by his crew of extremely talented multi-instrumentalists. If any of his previous gigs are anything to go by, this is going to be one hell of a party, so get your dancing shoes on and get ready to shake a leg or two.
Hailing from New Jersey, Titus Andronicus are the four-piece making fuzzy art punk that's a bit more visceral than what you're used to. The band's sound is frenzied yet melodic, making for the perfect soundtrack to lead singer Patrick Stickle's reflective lyrics about mental health, eating disorders and the general anxieties of life. If you like your music cathartic, then this is where you have to be; something tells us that the gorgeous settings of St Pancras Old Church will make it that much more special.
Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, is a 19-year-old DIY artist hailing from Nashville, where she writes, produces and masters every single song she puts out. She is impressive, to say the least. And her recently-released debut record, Clean, has only proved to impress us more: it's a collection of comforting bedroom indie songs about heartache, anxiety and everything in between. Her poignant takes on life prove she's got wisdom and talent beyond her years, so do the right thing and go sing it all out with her.