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    Kelis Returns with New Songs at NYC Show

    After four tumultuous years away from music, Kelis returned to the stage Wednesday night in New York City with a simple mission: dance, dance, dance! Which is understandable considering what she's been through. She's been absent since the release of her last record, 2006's Kelis Was Here, and you'd be forgiven if you thought the only place she's been since then is her lawyer's office. The pop star went through a nasty divorce with rapper Nas last year, and only recently got out of a long alimony battle. (Nas eventually agreed to pay her nearly $44,000 a month.) More so, she also went to culinary school-at the famous Le Cordon Bleu, no less-and pursued dreams of becoming a sommelier and starting her own line of sauces.

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    Green Day's 'American Idiot' Debuts on Broadway

    The idea of a punk rock musical may strike some folks as patently absurd. How can you take one art form -- gritty, rebellious, brutally minimalist -- and marry it to another -- polished, family-friendly, harmonically complex -- without crippling them both? Some fans, in other words, are simply never going to warm to the idea of a Green Day musical, no matter how good it is. But they're missing out. American Idiot, which opened Tuesday night at Broadway's St. James Theatre after a run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, is about as rock'n'roll as musicals get. It honors the 2004 Green Day record of the same name -- that brilliant piece of agitprop that won the trio a Grammy and a second crack at stardom -- without losing its angsty charm. Of course, it helps to have a Tony Award-winning director on board who knows how to bring rock to Broadway.

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    Phoenix Perform at Surprise SPIN Rooftop Party

    Phoenix may be in the middle of a massive world tour, and just a couple days away from playing Coachella, but when SPIN has a birthday to celebrate, it's time for the band to head to New York. Thursday night, the French quartet stopped by SPIN's Lower Manhattan headquarters to play a rooftop set in celebration of the magazine's 25th anniversary issue -- an event sponsored by Fujifilm, AriZona, and Corona. Watch the video >> In front of some 150 fan-contest winners and friends of the magazine, the band ran through an acoustic set from last year's Grammy-winning album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix -- which landed at No. 3 on SPIN's 40 Best Albums of 2009 list. As Phoenix took the stage -- which was four barstools step up in a corner of the tarpaper roof -- a light rain started.

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    The xx Play Intimate Vans Soundcheck Gig at SPIN

    The xx are an anomaly. In an age when most young buzz bands go for the biggest, the brightest, and the quirkiest, this London trio opts for calculated restraint over technicolor bombast. They dress head-to-toe in black, and barely move on stage. While their music, as evidenced by last year's much praised self-titled debut, is a minimalist's wet dream. Filtering the angular post-punk of the Cure and Joy Division through the sultry, beat-heavy atmospherics of contemporary R&B, songs like "Shelter" and "Heart Skipped a Beat" attain an eerie, mesmerizing calm -- the perfect soundtrack to a seduction or a betrayal.

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    Nneka -- SPIN Artist for 2010 -- Wows in NYC Gig

    You've probably never heard of Nneka, but if things go they way they've gone for her in Europe these last couple years, you will soon. Already a continental sensation -- garnering high praise for her unique blend of Nas-inspired hip-hop, Simone-inspired soul, and Marley-inspired social consciousness -- the Nigerian-born singer was just named one of SPIN's 10 artists to watch in 2010. And now with her U.S. debut, the career-spanning compilation Concrete Jungle, hitting stores this week, Nneka seems destined to slay American audiences just as easily. Funny then that the 28-year-old showed up last night to her sold-out record release party at Lower Manhattan nightclub SOB's -- only her second NYC gig ever -- in ponytails and a hoodie. Not exactly the costume of a world-conquering pop star, but hey, that's how Nneka rolls. She's got no time for indulgence or spectacle.

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    Tori Amos Celebrates the Season at SPIN

    It was a sight to behold. Just a couple months ago, Tori Amos could be found playing packed houses at Radio City Music Hall, and wowing audiences in London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Rome. And yet here she was in front of a piano at SPIN's offices in Lower Manhattan playing to no more than 100 people, her legs, as always, straddling the piano bench -- a cowgirl in high heels.Fresh off her multi-continent, five-month Sinful Attraction Tour (Amos, like Madonna, is one of just a few artists who's allowed to name her own tours), her gig last night at SPIN's Newcastle-sponsored SPINhouse Live series was, to say the least, a change of pace. But then again so is Tori's latest record.Released last month, Midwinter Graces is being described is Tori's first "seasonal" album, which, in Amos' agile hands, means part Christmas homily, part pagan ritual.

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    The National and Breeders Perform Together

    Thursday night, six indie-rock luminaries-including two sets of twins-debuted their unique collaboration with renowned visual artist Matthew Ritchie at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The Long Count, a 70-minute multi-media piece, featured the guitar work of Bryce and Aaron Dessner (both from The National), and the vocal talents of Kim and Kelley Deal, of Pixies and Breeders fame, My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, and Matt Berninger, also of The National -- along with a 12-piece orchestra. The Long Count is inspired by Popol Vuh, the Mayan creation myth featuring "hero twins," and, improbably, the Cincinnati Reds-specifically the team, known as "The Big Red Machine," that won back-to-back World Series in '75 and '76.

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    Hockey Play SPIN Rooftop CMJ Party

    In the latest edition of our SPINhouse Live series Thursday night, presented by Newcastle Brown Ale and VTech, up-and-coming Portland, Oregon, dance-rock band Hockey entertained an intimate crowd of 200 on the rooftop of SPIN's downtown Manhattan office as part of this week's CMJ Music Festival. Click here to watch the videos >> "I want to write a truthful song over an '80's groove," singer Benjamin Grubin declared launching "Song Away."And the band's joyfully funkified set pretty much hit that goal. Hockey's six-song show -- all pulled from the group's recently released debut, Mind Chaos -- combined retro dance-punk (a la DFA Records) with synth-heavy New Wave to contagious effect. "Work" had bassist Jeremy "Jerm" Reynolds showing off his prodigious 4-string skills amid countless flashing iPhones, while "Put the Game Down" alternated between a club-ready dance groove, courtesy

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    Springsteen's 'Born in the U.S.A.' Closes Giants Stadium

    "Giants Stadium: The House That Bruce Built," read one proud fan's sign. Friday night Bruce Springsteen returned one final time to the 70,000-seat New Jersey venue to tear it all down. Bruce's 3-hour blowout -- his fifth show there in two weeks (each one devoted to a classic record) and his 24th since 1985 -- will be the last musical performance at fabled Giants Stadium before it is demolished next year. So nostalgia was very much in the air. There were fireworks. There were 50-year-olds in tour jackets that read "Bruce Springsteen Cleveland 1974." There were 30-year-olds in football jerseys and Giants helmets. This was Bruce nostalgia -- big, rollicking, take-no-prisoners nostalgia. An era may be coming to an end, but the Boss was, as ever, defiant. "C'mon take your best shot. Let me see what got.

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    Salman Rushdie, Dredg Meld Words, Music at NYC Benefit

    Not all rock stars spend their spare time consuming narcotics and canoodling with groupies. Boring as it sounds, some actually read -- a lot. And some of what they learn even makes into their music. Thursday night, SPIN's Liner Notes series, an offshoot of the SPIN.com Book Club, brought together the San Francisco quartet Dredg and their literary muse, Salman Rushdie, for an intimate evening of music, literature, and atheism at Housing Works' Bookstore Café in Lower Manhattan.

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