TV on the Radio
(with LCD Soundsystem) 7 p.m., Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 27-29, at the Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Rd., Berkeley. $60; thegreekberkeley.com
The early-2000s indie-rock explosion that Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes spearheaded in New York inspired a new generation of rockers and reinvigorated life into what was, at the time, a stale genre. When it seemed like candidates for “the next big band” were popping up left and right, TV on the Radio always strayed apart from the collective consciousness, and the band’s sound proved it. With influences coming from a wide selection of artists like Brian Eno, Pixies, and Prince, TV on the Radio rarely reproduces a similar-sounding song, but its knack for experimentation led its members into becoming one of the most dynamic American bands of the new millennium, and their stellar five studio albums are a testament to that. Return to Cookie Mountain, their 2006 sophomore release, elevated TV on the Radio from the underground to legitimate indie-rock superstars, propelled by the success of their noisy, punk-tinged, and Letterman-approved anthem “Wolf Like Me,” which remains the group’s seminal song. 2014’s Seeds, the group’s most recent release, shows them unafraid to channel their pop-songwriting skills with catchy tracks like “Careful You,” with frontman Tunde Adebimpe audibly grieved over the loss of band member and friend Gerard Smith. Yet much like TV on the Radio’s powerful live performances, there is an overwhelming sense of positive energy found on the album, proving the only thing greater than the group’s creativity is its perseverance.
7 p.m., Saturday, April 28, at Slim’s, 33 11th St. $25; slimspresents.com
When Toronto electro-punks Crystal Castles released their debut album in 2008, the online music world lost its collective mind. Crystal Castles were vicious and harsh-sounding — but most of all, they were exciting, and the mysterious duo made up of singer Alice Glass and producer Ethan Kath inspired later experimental synth-pop artists like Purity Ring and Grimes. Citing professional and personal reasons, Glass departed from the group in 2014, but hinted at a future solo career. Any worries that Glass would lose her ferocity were immediately quelled in 2015 with the release of her debut single “Stillbirth.” On it, her vocals sound clearer than ever before, backed by distorted, industrial synths and machine-gun drums. Glass proceeded to donate all profits from “Stillbirth” to aid victims of sexual abuse, and she returned to the scene last summer with her self-titled, solo debut EP, with former HEALTH member Jupiter Keyes handling the bulk of production duties. Although Glass’ trademark screeches and screams can be heard mixed in the background, Glass showcases her clear vocal talent with dark, poppy tracks like “White Lies” and “Forgiveness,” the latter of which was co-written by Nine Inch Nails-affiliate Atticus Ross. The EP represents a painful, but necessary, evolution for Glass both artistically and personally, as she moves on from her troubled past.
8 p.m., Tuesday, May 1, at The Chapel, 777 Valencia St. $15; thechapelsf.com
Born into a family of musicians, NIIA, born Niia Bertino, has flawless musical talent running in her blood. Classically trained from a young age at Berklee College of Music and The New School, Bertino understands composition like the back of her hand, along with expert level skills in jazz vocals and piano. Her big break came in 2007 when she met Wyclef Jean while still a jazz student in New York, as the duo released their Lil Wayne & Akon-anchored hit single “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” which peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Bertino lay relatively quiet until her 2014 debut EP, Generation Blue, which hears Bertino’s exquisite vocals shining through moody electronic soundscapes and delicate layers of guitars and pianos. Its soulful, R&B-influenced sound laid the blueprint for Bertino’s debut album, I, released last May. That album is a deft blend of jazz, R&B, and funk, complete with an amicable mix of organic instrumentation and electronic production that results in a lush yet dreamy atmosphere guided by Bertino’s angelic vocals. I could be viewed as a culmination of NIIA’s already impressive career, yet the album sounds more like an optimistic new beginning.