The Empty Hearts @ The Paramount
370 New York Ave. 8 p.m. $37.25, $28.75. 631-673-7300
Armed with a name suggested by Underground Garage svengali and erstwhile Springsteen running buddy Steven Van Zandt, The Empty Hearts are a garage-rock-inspired supergroup featuring members of The Chesterfield Kings (Andy Babiuk), The Romantics (Wally Palmar), The Cars (Elliot Easton) and Blondie (Clem Burke). Riding off last year’s self-titled debut produced by Ed Stasium (Living Colour/Smithereens) and contributions from late Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, Empty Hearts are taking that blend of ‘60s and ‘70s era pop, rock and punk from the studio to the stage and getting plenty of love from music fans starved for it.. With O El Amor.
Pixies @ Kings Theatre
1027 Flatbush Ave. 8 p.m. $79.50, $69.50, $59.50. 929-210-8419
Ever since the Pixies reconvened in 2004, fans too young to see them the first time ‘round got to cross the band off their wish list with the excitement over this long-awaited reunion being further stoked by whether or not this influential quartet would record any new material (so far it’s only been the ’04 iTunes single “Bam Thwok” and a Warren Zevon cover for a tribute album). So while the band teased that the alt-rock icons might address this dearth of new songs by heading into the studio, apparently it wasn’t wishful thinking as the Pixies released EP1 in September 2013. It did come at the expense of Kim Deal, who left the band and was subsequently replaced by Kim Shattuck of The Muffs. Shattuck’s membership was short-lived as she was dismissed shortly after, almost three months later. The services of touring bassist Paz Lenchantin and the trio of Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering have subsequently released EP2 and EP3 before combining them into an LP called Indie Cindy that was put out in April 2014. With John Grant.
May 28 & 29
Ed Sheeran @ Forest Hills Stadium
1 Tennis Place. 8 p.m. $85.50, $75.50, $65.50.
Taylor Swift BFF Ed Sheeran kicks off the Forest Hills Stadium 2015 season with a pair of dates before heading over to Brooklyn to cap off the month of May. Still flogging last year’s sophomore outing x (read as “multiply” and is of course the follow-up to his 2011 debut + [read as “plus”]), Sheeran has been racking up recent hits in the shape of “Thinking Out Loud,” “Sing” and “Don’t.” Expect to see lots more of Sheeran as he’s also been tapped to open for the Rolling Stones in the Kansas City of the legendary rockers’ 2015 Zip Code Tour.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St., 9 p.m. $25. 866-858-0008
Firmly at the intersection of noise-rock, punk and blues, Jon Spencer and cohorts Judah Bauer and Russell Simins have been thrashing and bashing away for 25 years, somehow churning out Jon Spencer Blues records and still working on an array of side projects both solo and collaborative (Heavy Trash, Honeymoon Killers). The trio is in full-on JSBX mode with the threesome’s latest being Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015. With Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens.
Lynyrd Skynyrd @ NYCB Theatre @ Westbury
960 Brush Hollow Rd., 8 p.m. $60.50, $50.50. 877-598-8497
Along with the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd put southern rock on the map (and “Freebird” on many classic rock playlists.) While the 1977 plane crash essentially grounded the band until remnants of the band picked up the pieces in the late ‘80s, guitarist Gary Rossington remains the sole founding member. (Not including Rickey Medlocke who grew up with but was never an official member of Skynyrd in the early days). Still recording, the band is taking to the road in support of its most recent outing, 2012’s Last of a Dying Breed.
Marshall Crenshaw Band @ The City Winery
155 Varick St., 8 p.m. $35, $32, $28. 212-608-0555
Call him the pop equivalent of Forrest Gump. In addition to crafting a well-respected solo career that’s found a number of other artists covering his compositions, Marshall Crenshaw’s muse has found his finger in many different pies. He was a member of the road-show version of Beatlemania, played Buddy Holly in La Bamba, authored a number of rock & roll-themed books and toured as a member of DKT/MC5, a band of MC5 survivors. Since 2011, the Detroit native has been hosting a radio show called The Bottomless Pit on 90.7 WFUV where he spins music from his own enormous music collection. With Anthony D’Amato.
Billy Joel @ Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza. 8 p.m. $124.50, $104.50, $64.50. 212-707-3131
Billy Joel continues to keep doing things his way. While fans will continue to hope and wish for new studio material, the Long Island native has been content to get his musical jones by playing live. Since the beginning of last year, he’s been playing a residency gig at Madison Square Garden that’s found him playing once a month indefinitely. Outside of maybe seeing him around the Gold Coast or running into him taking in an elementary school concert in Glen Cove, this is your best bet to get a Piano Man fix.
May 28 & 31
Gene Ween Does Billy Joel @ Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Ave. 8 p.m. $15 adv. $18 DOS. 718-963-3369
The man born Aaron Freeman, (who was also one-half of experimental alt-rock duo Ween), went through a bit of an identity crisis after he and former creative apartner Dean Ween (aka Mickey Melchiondo) went their separate ways in 2012. And while last year saw Gene Ween release the album Freeman (which is also the name of the quintet he pulled together to record the album), he’s re-embraced his Ween alter-ego and with it, a desire to form a Billy Joel tribute band along with School of Rock founder Paul Green and former They Might Be Giants drummer Dan Hickey. With Youth Posse.
George Thorogood & Brian Setzer @ the Beacon Theatre
74th Street & Broadway. 8 p.m. $99.50, $75.50, $55.50. 866-858-0008.
As easy as it might be to take George Thorogood for granted given the fact that he’s been pounding the blues boogie beat since the early ’70s, give the man credit for never phoning in a show. Throughout a career that found him introducing Bo Diddley to a new generation via the “Bad to the Bone” video, he’s done a similar service by paying homage to greats ranging from Hank Williams, John Lee Hooker and Hound Dog Taylor to John Hiatt and Frank Zappa both in the studio and on the road. And so it goes with his last studio effort, 2011’s 2120 South Michigan Ave., which happens to be the address of the late, great, Chess Records. On this collection, Thorogood puts his touch on seminal songs originally recorded by idols Muddy Waters, Diddley, Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon. Joining him will be local boy Brian Setzer, who breaks out of his annual tradition of only coming around during the holidays. The Massapequa native has been to the recording studio much more recently than Thorogood as the former released Rockabilly Riot!: All Original last year.
The Who @ Forest Hills Stadium
1 Tennis Place. 8 p.m. $154.50, $92.50, $62.50, $49.50
Many fans feel The Who should have packed it in after wildman drummer Keith Moon died from a prescription drug overdose in 1977 and was subsequently replaced by Small Faces/Faces timekeeper Kenney Jones. After recording It’s Hard with Jones, Pete Townshend declared the band would embark on a farewell tour before becoming a studio-only entity. By the end of ’83, Townshend quit the band entirely. In that time, The Who reunited for Live Aid in 1985, staged a Kids Are Alright 25th Anniversary Tour in 1989, performed Quadrophenia for a mid-‘90s tour and most recently played halftime at Super Bowl XLIV. So here we are for the group (now founding members Townshend and frontman Roger Daltrey adeptly rounded out by bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Zak Starkey) touring behind The Who Hits 50! By all accounts, The Who are hitting on all cylinders and have promised to pack it in when the band cannot put on a quality show. Early reports are that this isn’t the case and while the swing through Nassau Coliseum stirred up an incident where Daltrey threatened to walk off stage after he caught a whiff of some concertgoers smoking weed, the set and subsequent shows have been a tightly played walk through this legendary group’s storied canon. With Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.
70’s Soul Jam @ NYCB Theatre @ Westbury
960 Brush Hollow Rd., 8 p.m. $69.50, $49.50, $39.50. 877-598-8497
Featuring The Stylistics (“Betcha By Golly, Wow,” “Stop, Look, Listen,” “Break Up To Make Up”), Heatwave (“Boogie Nights,” “Always and Forever,” “The Groove Line”), Rose Royce (“Car Wash,” “Wishing On a Star,” “I Wanna Get Next To You”), Peaches & Herb (“Reunited,” “Shake Your Groove Thing”) and The Three Degrees (“When Will I See You Again,” “TSOP [The Sound of Philadelphia]”).
Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra @ the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts
37 W. Main St. 8 p.m. $55, $50. 631-969-1101
Despite his Teutonic heritage, Ottmar Liebert is one of the world’s most renowned nouveau flamenco six-string maestros. In addition to a steady stream of releases that include last year’s three-oh-five, Liebert’s most notable accomplishment was being ordained as a Zen monk back in May of 2006.
Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals @ B.B. King Blues Club and Grill
237 West 42nd St. 8 p.m. $42.50 adv. $50 DOS. 212-997-4144
It’s no surprise that acrimony was more than abundant in the post-breakup world of The Rascals going so far as to both separate factions laying claim to the band name through much of the ’90s. But with avowed Rascals fan Little Steven Van Zandt on the scene, the Springsteen sideman got all the original members together for the biographical concert/theatrical event The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream. Following a successful Broadway run, the quartet deigned to take the show on the road. For this go-round, founding member Felix Cavaliere will be swinging through his adopted hometown with a crew of topflight sidemen. To read more about Cavaliere, click here. To find out what his favorite Rascals songs are, click here.
May 30 & 31
An Acoustic Evening with Rich Robinson @ The City Winery
155 Varick St., 8 p.m. $35, $32, $30, $28. 212-608-0555
No longer the angry young man he was while fronting The Black Crowes during the past two decades, Rich Robinson has mellowed considerably. And he’s become a family man who is currently a beaming father of four. And while his main band is once again on a hiatus of undetermined length (that sadly seems more permanent due to disputes over what else?—money), Robinson has kept busy collaborating with everyone from Patti Smith to the late Howard Zinn. He’s also gotten around to releasing The Ceaseless Sight, his third solo outing and the follow-up to his 2011 sophomore bow, Through a Crooked Sun. For these shows, he’ll be aided by Dave O’Grady and while there’s no telling whether or not he’ll be dipping into the Black Crowes canon during this tour, he’s been known to bust out quirky covers of Buffalo Springfield, Manassas and Jellyfish. As to whether he’ll trot out a version of the Fleetwood Mac nugget “Station Man” that they cut for the last album, you’ll have to go to find out.
They Might Be Giants @ the Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. Sixth St. 8 p.m. $25. 212-486-5400
Given how They Might Be Giants have been bouncing between quirky alt-pop progenitors of hooky songs like “Don’t Let’s Start” and “Birdhouse In Your Soul” and kid’s music albums like the most recent, 2009’s Here Comes Science, it’s oftentimes hard to say which version of TMBG will be showing up at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. For this particular outing, expect playfulness and childlike wonder from the band’s two Johns, Flansburgh and Linnell, along with the intelligence and sense of humor normally found in the songs they’ll be playing off the duo’s self-titled 1986 debut and the newest edition of Dial-a-Song and more, in what’s turned out to be a quasi-regular monthly residency gig in Williamsburg. Think Billy Joel at the Garden, but far smaller.
Robert Cray Band @ B.B. King Blues Club and Grill
237 West 42nd St. 8 p.m. $49.50 adv. $55 DOS. 212-997-4144
Robert Cray often gets knocked by purists for not playing with the fire of a Buddy Guy or Albert Collins despite a knack for penning numerous soul-blues gems. But given his sure-handed style of guitar playing, Cray should be commended for being a musician who has refused to become hidebound by the genre he’s used as a springboard throughout his career. To that end, his latest effort, last year’s In My Soul, finds him plumbing the depths of Memphis R&B and coming away with a rich mix of originals and covers of Otis Redding and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival.
Ride @ the Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. Sixth St. 8:30 p.m. $35. 212-486-5400
It’s turning out to be quite a week for fans of British indie rock thanks to shoegazing stalwarts Ride reforming and bringing the party over to the States. While the band’s most famous member is Andy Bell (who went on to play bass in Oasis), Ride comes out of the same scene that spawned Catherine Wheel, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Swervedriver, Slowdive and Spiritualized. No mention of future projects but early reviews report the band is doling out the psychedelic pop like they never left. With sshh. (Also appearing on June 4 at Terminal 5, 610 W. 56th St. NYC. 212-582-6600. www.terminal5nyc.com.)
June 2 & 3
Mumford & Sons @ MCU Park @ Coney Island
1904 Surf Ave. 7 p.m. $69. 800-745-3000
Part of the same London-based alt-folk scene that counts critical faves Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale amongst its peers, Mumford & Sons has built up nominal buzz in recent years starting with its 2009 debut Sigh No More that owes plenty to UK forebearers Fairport Convention and The Waterboys. Fast forward six years and the band has just released Wilder Mind, its third album where the band plugs in a bit more while working with producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Haim) and The National’s Aaron Dessner. With The Maccabees and blues guitar soul-shouter Son Little.
Chaka Khan @ Celebrate Brooklyn @ the Prospect Park Bandshell
Prospect Park W. @ Ninth St., 7 p.m. Free. 800-745-3000
Kicking off the Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell Summer 2015 season is fire-haired diva Chaka Khan. While her last album was 2007’s Funk This, an overlooked collection of genre-blurring gems, she’s kept busy. Not only did she appear in the 2008 Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple, but Khan was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is currently working on a pair of albums, one a jazz project and the other a tribute to Joni Mitchell. Best of all is this free show comes on the heels of a ticketed show the Chicago native was coheadlining with Stephanie Mills at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center on May 31 and still get to hear classic songs like “Tell Me Something Good,” “I”m Every Woman,” “Sweet Thing” and “I Feel For You.”
Matt Grabowski @ The Oak Room Tavern
242 Sea Cliff Ave. 8 p.m. Free. 516-277-2350
Since playing his first show right out of high school, Matt Grabowski has been making the rounds along the North Shore of Long Island as well as New York City. With repertoire ranging from Paul Simon to Harry Chapin along with his own Alternative Rock originals, armed with only an acoustic guitar and a bass drum, his voice stands out as distinct and sincere. Matt Grabowski is a name that, when you see it on the calendar, you do not want to pass up.
Ash @ Rough Trade NYC
64 N. 9th St., 8:30 p.m. $20. 718-388-4111
Fun fact about this Irish rock trio that got swept up in the ‘90s Britpop scene (along with former member Charlotte Hatherley), founding members Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton were in an Iron Maiden cover band called Vietnam. And while the band is into its 23rd year of existence, Ash has found far more success overseas to the tune of one silver, two gold and a pair of platinum (and chart-topping) albums in the UK along with 18 Top 40 hits. In other words, a band Anglophiles will be drooling over within the cozy confines of Rough Trade NYC as the trio bashes out material off Kablammo!, the band’s new project and sixth studio album. With BOYTOY and Zerobridge.
Wire @ the Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. Sixth St. 9 p.m. $25. 212-486-5400
Ever since releasing its seminal 1977 debut Pink Flag, Wire has been the standard-bearer for post-punk while cultivating quite the famous fan base that includes R.E.M., Minor Threat, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, The Feelies and The Cure. (Some would say ‘90s Brit-pop outfit Elastica took the influence too far when they wound up settling out of court with Wire due to similarities between the former’s “Connection” and the latter’s “Three Girl Rhumba.”) Wire hasn’t missed a beat and are out in support of its new self-titled release that also happens to be the group’s 14th studio outing. With Julian Lynch. (Also appearing on June 4 at Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. NYC. 866-858-0008 www.boweryballroom.com.)
June 3 & 4
Ian Hunter & Rant Band @ The City Winery
155 Varick St., 8 p.m. $65, $55, $50, $45. 212-608-0555
Still trucking along at the age of 75(!), the former Mott the Hoople frontman continues to cast a large shadow in influencing artists as diverse as Def Leppard, Butch Walker, The Soft Boys, Jim Allen, The Mekons and Cheap Trick while still releasing solid material. While 2012’s When I’m President was Hunter’s last studio outing, he’s still killing it with his live performances (although for some reason, any Mott the Hoople reunions have unfortunately been strictly reserved for his homeland). Joining him for this intimate, semi-acoustic show will be a band that includes former Bongos founder James Mastro. A keen observer of human foibles with a nose for commenting on political and social malfeasance, Hunter doesn’t disappoint in a live setting, so know that there’ll be plenty to sup on. With the Spirit of ‘76 (Steve Wynn) on Wednesday and (Jeff Caldwell) on Thursday. (Also appearing on June 5 at The Bell House, 149 7th St. Brooklyn. 718-643-6510. www.thebellhouseny.com.)