The Dan Band Work Wedding Singer Magic on Old Covers and New Material

Photo by Sean Zanni
The Dan Band at Joe's Pub
On an otherwise normal Friday night at the start of spring, Joe's Pub is a raunchy cabaret. A bro-y, middle-finger-flipping, expletive-shouting cabaret. Onstage that night is the Dan Band, the real-world iteration of the gross, sexually charged wedding band from 2003's Old School and 2009's The Hangover (and 2004's Starsky and Hutch bat mitzvah, too): Recall the scenes featuring the Dan Band, with singer (and ultimate driving force) Dan Finnerty striking dirty little dance moves and sprinkling in obscenities whenever possible.

"Yeah, fuckin' every now and then I fall apart," he belts in Old School, Frank (Will Ferrell) and Marissa (Perrey Reeves) trying hard to have their first real dance as husband and wife. "I fuckin' need you more than ever..."

The band, of course, is real even outside of film, with cross-country live gigs, original music, and merchandise. Their act is colorful and bursting with energy, but with so many things going on (and getting shouted), it's hard to know exactly what to look at.

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Brooklyn's Ava Luna Touch Transcendence on Infinite House

Photo by Renaud Monfounry
Ava Luna will celebrate the release of Infinite House at Baby's All Right and Silent Barn this weekend.
There's a mischievous air of cool around Ava Luna. With Infinite House, their third LP, they're laughing at inside jokes in between fractured funk stomps and screeds of Beat poetry. Find them recalling Janelle MonaƩ at her most adventurous on lead single "Coat of Shellac" or the Black Keys before they went major on the fiery "Billz." Draw lines between Infinite House and the Inherent Vice soundtrack as the hypnotic "Tenderize" echoes the neurotic snap of Can's "Vitamin C" and "Steve Polyester" finds Becca Kauffman giving a surreal monologue in the same way Joanna Newsom reads Pynchon prose. Ava Luna are quirky and confident, mysterious and compelling. Their compositions are gleefully loose rock interpretations, postmodern soul tunes perched on the line between brilliance and the abyss.

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'Can You Please Reverse off My Skateboard?' The Baby's All Right Taco Recaps His Ride

Baby's All Right's famous skateboarding taco man
Baby's All Right is well-known as a venue that hosts rising acts and serves house-special sugary drinks, but it's now scored some internet fame for its $1 taco happy hour deal. Over the weekend, a short video of a skateboarding taco crashing into a moving vehicle while brandishing a sign promoting Baby's deal went viral when it was released on the club's Instagram account. The star/victim of a fairly ingenious marketing strategy that plays on a few of the internet's favorite topics (tacos and people getting hurt), the man inside the taco, Jon Newport, finds the reaction to his (thankfully not too traumatizing) crash amusing.

"I just think it's hilarious," he says. "My buddies are trippin' and everyone is hitting me up asking if I was OK. Tony Hawk fucking Instagrammed it! And Yelawolf!"

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We've 'Waited for So Long' for the Return of the Juan MacLean

Photo by Tonje Thilesen
Juan MacLean and Nancy Whang
When Juan MacLean approached Nancy Whang about writing and recording In a Dream, the duo's third record and its first after a five-year hiatus, there was a catch. "She said yes, but," MacLean remembers. " 'There's one caveat. I'm never going on tour or playing live again.' " Though the Juan MacLean, as a musical project, bears his name alone, Whang's participation was essential. "LCD Soundsystem had just broken up, and I knew I needed to make a new record....But at this point it was like, if she says no, I'm just not going to do it," he explains. "I said, 'Well, that's fine, we'll make a studio record. That's great.' But now here we are, so..."

"Here" describes the DFA stalwarts on a rainy spring afternoon at Williamsburg's Marlow & Sons. The pair have just finished a rehearsal session for an upcoming mini-tour in support of In a Dream, which kicks off with six New York "residency" dates — three at Cameo Gallery and three at Union Pool. It's the first time MacLean and Whang have played with a full band since 2009, when their longtime drummer, Jerry Fuchs, died tragically after falling down an elevator shaft. More than anything, these shows, as well as the songs on In a Dream, are symbolic of the rebirth that the Juan MacLean was founded upon.

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Reba McEntire's Got a Hungry Heart on Love Somebody

Photo by Jeremy Cowart
Reba McEntire may be a country queen, but she's no diva. She has a heart as big as her larger-than-life career. Her new album, Love Somebody, out April 14, is one of the best of her nearly four-decades-long career — certainly her strongest from the past two — and a triumphant return to form after a five-year gap since her last record.

"The overall theme is about love," the singer said of the new album to a small lunch group at Soho House on Monday. "Falling in, falling out, getting cheated on, cheated...I find songs that touch my heart because when I sing them, hopefully they'll touch your heart the way they've touched mine, if I did my job right."

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Brooklyn's Liturgy Continue to Think Outside the 'Black Metal' Box

Photo by Erez Avissar
When Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the frontman of Brooklyn metal band Liturgy, penned a lengthy essay back in 2009 titled "Transcendental Black Metal" to explain new, more upbeat possibilities for the genre, the reception could be read as skeptical at best. Simply put, there are some metalheads who deem Hunt-Hendrix and Liturgy misrepresentative, posers, and fertile territory for Internet Tough Guy-ness over their status as a metal band. But "transcendental black metal" doesn't represent just another metal subgenre to Hunt-Hendrix. It is, rather, a much more vast creative starting point.

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Bodega Bamz Finds Strength in Ties to Tanboys and A$AP Yams on Sidewalk Exec

via SOB's
Bodega Bamz
"[A$AP Yams] knew where we wanted to take it, he knew the vision we had — we shared the same vision. Before I met Yams, I had work ethic, I had the talent, I had the vision, but I had no plan. Yams gave me a plan. Yams told me, 'Yo Bamz, this is how you gonna do it, this is what you gonna drop, this is what you gonna say, this how you gonna move, this is who you gonna meet.' Yams gave me a whole plan, and to this day we still use that plan."

Bodega Bamz looks ahead at the blank movie theater screen. The lights are dim, but I can still see his eyes glisten as he speaks about the late A$AP Yams, the A$AP Mob co-founder and his mentor. Now 30 years old, Bodega Bamz, born Nathaniel De La Rosa, is full of pride and loyalty. He's banked his career on those characteristics.

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The Milk Carton Kids Master the Open Road With Monterey

Photo by Ryan Mastro
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan of the Milk Carton Kids
A place of worship doesn't give its keys and the code to its security system to just anyone, but the Milk Carton Kids were on a mission (though not a "mission from God"). While touring behind 2013's The Ash & Clay, the folk duo — Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan — made the most of their travels and spent every waking moment, both on- and offstage, on their music. Instead of metaphorically unplugging from the tunes they were playing before an audience across the country and the songs they were writing on the side on their days off, they opted to spend more time than required on the stages they crossed one state at a time. They recorded Monterey, their forthcoming album, out May 19 on Anti Records, in these venues in the hours before and after their performances on 55 of their national tour dates, and this approach, plus a week spent burning the midnight oil at Nashville's Presbyterian Church, led to a not-quite-live and certainly atypical folk record.

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J. Cole Receives Diploma at St. John's Concert: 'I'm Gonna Send It to My Mom'

Nicole Fara Silver for the Village Voice
J. Cole takes the stage at St. John's in Queens.
It's good to come home when you're J. Cole.

The rapper returned to his New York City roots with a special homecoming performance at his alma mater, St. John's University in Queens, on April 9. Billed "The Real Is Back," the sold-out show was presented by Haraya, the Pan-African Students' Coalition — Cole was, incidentally, the president of the org back in 2007 — for current students and alumni. "It's crazy. A full-circle moment," Cole explained to the Village Voice from inside Carnesecca Arena.

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BBQ Films and Rough Trade NYC Toast Twenty Years of Empire Records

via Monarchy Enterprises
Johnny Whitworth and Liv Tyler in a promotional still from Empire Records
Empire Records, the 1995 film about the teen employees of a record store struggling to stay afloat, holds a measly 24 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Created to cash in on the mid-Nineties alt-rock zeitgeist, it flopped at the box office after critics panned it as predictable and fluffy despite a terrific soundtrack and endearing performances from young soon-to-be stars. It was released on the brink of the music industry's collapse. Being doomed to late-night TV rotation seemed a fitting fate.

Gabriel Rhoads muses upon these less-than-auspicious beginnings as he sits upstairs at Rough Trade, the massive Williamsburg indie record store that opened last year. The founder and CEO of immersive film screening company BBQ Films is in the middle of planning the latest chapter in Empire's saga of underdog success: a twentieth-anniversary event celebrating its enduring status as an unlikely cult hit, rescued from obscurity by obsessive music fans who discovered and cherished it over the last two decades. Rhoads and his mostly volunteer crew of movie lovers are transforming Rough Trade into the film's titular location for three nights starting on April 8, the same date on which the movie's story unfolds.

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