Left, Julia Holter. Right, Joanna Newsom, photo by Annabel Mehran
Our guide to November's most heart-wrenching double-bookings.
NOV 4 CAT POWER (Columbia Theater) vs. BATTLES (Berghain)
Math-rock instrumentals expertly played by a nearly anonymous troupe, or a singular songstress with a tendency to derail herself onstage?
VERDICT: Still touring Sun after three years, Power might be running out of juice. Meanwhile, the minimal, propulsive tracks on September's La Di Da Di should be a perfect fit for Berghain.
NOV 5 JULIA HOLTER (Berghain) vs. JOANNA NEWSOM (Admiralspalast)
Would you like your references to classic literature sung by an avant-garde sorceress or a harpwielding woodland sprite? Holter’s indisputably the more ‘Berlin cool’ choice, but what we’ve heard of Divers (out Oct 23) hints that despite the past half-decade of Hollywood hobnobbing Newsom’s still got a few (thousand) interesting words to say.
VERDICT: Catch Newsom while you can. Holter will come back to town, and it shouldn’t take long.
NOV 15 DESTROYER (Lido) vs. BUILT TO SPILL (Bi Nuu)
These bro-beloved bands made yacht-y grooving and jammy noodling respectable, respectively. BtS has settled into comforting consistency (this year’s Untethered Moon held no surprises), while Dan Bejar’s brainy unpredictability doesn’t always translate onstage.
VERDICT: With an eight-piece band replicating Poison Season's lush arrangements, it’s time to see if Destroyer’s gotten any better live.
NOV 18 DEERHUNTER (Heimathafen) vs. THURSTON MOORE (Postbahnhof)
Two generations of lanky noisemakers square off, Bradford Cox returning to the stage with a vengeance (and a new album Fading Frontier), following his 2013 auto accident; Moore still attempting to recover his reputation after his ex-wife’s memoir.
VERDICT: The Deerhunter frontman’s ‘wild’ onstage antics may not approach Moore's in his Sonic Youth prime, but he’s a whole lot more interesting at present. Plus, he’s opening for himself as Atlas Sound, so you get two Cox for the price of one.
Originally published in issue #143, November 2015.