Kele Okereke of Bloc Party
Old Crow Medicine Show at Central Park Summerstage, August 6, $35
Named after the delightfully inexpensive whiskey, Old Crow Medicine show were one of the greater surprises of mid-2000s country music. A old-time string band who sang about drinking and wagons and stuff (their biggest hit "Wagon Wheel" was actually co-written by Bob Dylan), they rose to prominence despite their pre-rock stylings. It's for good reason though -- "Wagon Wheel" as a single is unassailable in 1944 or 2004, and live, they approach their material with the energy of a punk band. String bands are sort of dead, but Old Crow Medicine Show will never die.
Bloc Party, The Drums, Them Jeans at Terminal 5, August 7-August 9, $35
It may be hard to remember it now, but when Bloc Party arrived via the stiffly slashing riffs of "Banquet," they already seemed a bit late to the early-Aught post-punk party. Indie rock had fallen back in love with the rigid grooves of Joy Division, Chic and Gang Of Four a few years prior, with The Rapture and James Murphy grabbing early acclaim for reigniting the dance floor and Franz Ferdinand scoring an actual radio hit before Kele And Co. arrived in 2005. But the group made a name for themselves, and remain relevant even after a recently ended four-year break, by pushing themselves harder than they had to. Kele Okereke was a socially conscious, emotionally vulnerable lyricist in a time when that wasn't cool at all, and Matt Tong was a more inventive drummer than was strictly required, and the band was never worried about following their vision in to heady, experimental realms. Of course, all that "bravely pushing yourself" can wear a body out, but after a few years of rest and side projects, Bloc Party are back with a new album (Four) and a three-night stand at Terminal 5. Expect these serial overachievers to make sure everyone remembers why they missed them. -Michael Tedder