THURSDAY, Sept. 28
Jeff Beck at the Greek Theater
Jeff Beck is the only guitarist who’s been modern for 40 years. With the Yardbirds, he was one of the first to smash his damn ax. With the late-’60s Jeff Beck Group, he was among the first to turn the thing into a noise machine. In the ’70s, he was the only rock guitarist making jazz inroads instead of vice versa. And for the last decade, he’s pioneered an instrumental panorama that backs his steely virtuosity with a shattering tech-generated percussive assault and the absolute latest in head-spinning electronic effects — dude loves that shit, and plays his stomp boxes like entirely separate instruments. It’s no sterile exercise; Beck brings equal command and total intensity to his stage performances, pulling off stunts you wouldn’t think he had a prayer of reproducing live. Prepare to be impressed. (Burkola Cosanostra)
Sonic Youth at the Wiltern
S.Y.’s new Rather Ripped album resumes the band’s ever more tuneful turn not away from the noise and splintered tonality of their earlier work, but enfolding it gracefully within ear-friendly song forms that do rock very hard while embracing more intricate emotional terrain. There’s a sweet, autumnal feeling about much of Sonic Youth’s recorded output in recent years as if they’re savoring the opportunity they’ve had to tell such a different side of the rock music story — where each tune, carefully examined, reveals an entire cosmos in which to explore alternative ways of pitting notes against other notes. S.Y.’s great contribution to the story is how they place their microtonal worlds in equal importance to whatever lyrical matters they wish to convey (still generally involving hot-rodding to personal freedom, or life and people in their beloved gnarly NYC). Live, S.Y. — with the departure of multi-instrumentalaist Jim O’Rourke — is now back to the “classic” lineup of guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist-singer Kim Gordon and tub-whacker Steve Shelley. (John Payne)
The Gossip, Mika Miko at the Troubadour
The Gossip’s brooding punk comes augmented with the deep Motown-era vocals of Beth Ditto, grabbing your attention like a dachshund with narcolepsy. They’re touring in support of their latest album, Standing in the Way of Control (Kill Rock Stars), with artful rock dynamics that reveal a doomed pride not seen since the likes of SOS Band’s “Just Be Good To Me.” Mika Miko have moved from their humble beginnings as the de facto house band at the Smell — funded by grit, moxie and honest Vegan Express wages — to grace the cover of August’s Maximum Rocknroll. Their new LP, C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. (KRS), is a baker’s dozen of songs “to get your pony thrash on.” Plus, they open for the Slits here in autumn, so saying that their career is like Spock in heat is possibly the understatement of the last half hour. (David Cotner)
M. Ward, Mike Watt at the Henry Fonda Theater
Portland-based singer-songwriter M. Ward titled his latest album Post-War, but beyond the inclusion of a handful of spacy keyboard parts, it could just have easily been called Pre-War: Ward taps a timeless vein of acoustic folk-blues more dependent upon eternal qualities such as joy and melancholy than any amount of fancy studio footwork (though his mixing-board mojo has helped win him work with high-profile indie queens Cat Power and Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis). Post-War, like all of Ward’s records, is about intimacy and closeness, so it should be interesting to see how he translates this latest batch of tunes to the stage. Opener Mike Watt is always worth checking in on; tonight he appears with his new trio, the Missingmen. (Mikael Wood)
FRIDAY, Sept. 30
Mastodon, Converge, The Bronx at the Henry Fonda Theater
After two critically gushed-over albums on indie label Relapse, it was no shocker that Mastodon swung a big-label deal now that underground metal is hip. Rather than getting lazy, the band pushed it further with Blood Mountain, a seismic lurch of galloping drums, possessed shrieks, hypnotic soloing and wigged-out vocal F/X (“Circle of Cysquatch”). Boston-based Converge have done variations on metalcore over the years, from the near-cinematic Jane Doe to the thrashy You Fail Me. (Guitarist Kurt Ballou is in great demand as a producer.) Tonight’s set should focus on the upcoming No Heroes, a work as interested in degrees of sludginess as it is in shades of mood. Unlike Mastodon, the Bronx’s shit-ugly churn has become melodic with their leap to the majors, but the change is satisfying, not a concession. (Andrew Lentz)
Tony Joe White at the Hotel Café
Tony Joe White, the slow-simmering, blues-informed Louisiana provocateur whose 1969 swamp-rock classic, “Polk Salad Annie,” established him as a one-of-a-kind stylist, has led an extraordinary life in music. From his roughneck start in early-’60s Texas beer joints, where he aligned himself with idiosyncratic blues avatar Lightnin’ Hopkins, to his role as ’70s Elvis Presley rejuvenator (the King cut a memorable slew of White’s songs) to taking a significant hand as writer and musician in Tina Turner’s 1989 comeback smash, Foreign Affair, White’s distinctive, soulful slow-mo growl and sinuously fuzzy guitar funk have proved consistently irresistible. He provided hits for Dusty Springfield and Brook Benton (with the much-covered instant standard “Rainy Night in Georgia”), and notable recordings by everyone from George Jones to Ray Charles. But no one can interpret them with the depth and magnetism that White himself exudes; check his new CD, Uncovered, a magnificently shadowy, humid, horny collection of way-down in the sweet, thick bayou murk, illuminated by flashes of wah-wah funk and hard-blues prophesy, that is positively addictive. White’s exceptionally languid, seductive approach is so profoundly satisfying that, by comparison, anything else sounds like an overmodulated, foolishly accelerated exercise in futility, and this all-too-rare opportunity to luxuriate in it should not be squandered. (Jonny Whiteside)
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 4
The Dears at the Troubadour
The finest band in Montreal’s bustling indie scene, the Dears play proudly dramatic, elaborately constructed guitar pop that blows up a teenage loner’s alienated melancholy into world-historical tragedy — though not in a bratty, look-at-me way, thanks to front man Murray Lightburn’s ability to tap a universal sense of outrage currently coursing through people living in (or near) America. The new Gang of Losers isn’t quite as triumphant as 2004’s terrific No Cities Left, the first Dears record to receive wide distribution in the States; for starters, Cities is prettier than Gang, which deepens the pathos in Lightburn’s writing. But it’s still an audacious little marvel, and its tougher-sounding guitar textures are currently inspiring the band to rip shit up onstage. (Mikael Wood)
THURSDAY, Oct. 5
Gov’t Mule at the Wiltern LG
When Warren Haynes branched off from the Allman Brothers to found Gov’t Mule in 1994, he clearly intended to kick ass with his brooding soul vocals, his preachifying song constructions, and that debbil guitar, whose controlled power and shading always has fellow musicians abrading their patellas. Lawd, did he ever succeed, and the Mule’s new High & Mighty may be the best evidence yet. With keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Andy Hess having fully merged spirits with Haynes and original drummer Matt Abts, the riffs are at their hairiest and the sound at its biggest. This record rocks deep, weeps with hard experience, and skanks the way only men with lungs full of pure Jamaica can do. And live, that’s just the beginning. (Greg Burk)
Roger Waters at the Hollywood Bowl
Pink Floyd bassist Waters follows bandmate Dave Gilmour’s footsteps at the Bowl for this performance of Dark Side of Moon. Following the rousing success of the Floyd reunion at Live 8 last year, Waters returns to the passions that have ably fueled his career: war, envy, the past, and various levels of poignancy and betrayal. Now, however, another fixation lights up the stage behind him: Syd Barrett. Never mind the fact that Syd’s house is now up for sale — images of the madcap laugher will saturate this revival of Dark Side, to be performed in its entirety, with lyrics by Waters that lived and breathed on the U.S. charts for more than 740 weeks. On drums in the Bowl engagement: Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Also Fri. & Sun., Oct. 6 & 8. (David Cotner)
FRI., 9/29: GUSTER, NADA SURF, TRISTAN PRETTYMAN, the Wiltern; DJ TIGA, Monmartre Lounge; MOJAVE 3, BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT, Roxy; THE MUFFS, Safari Sam’s; ELENI MANDELL, LAVENDER DIAMOND, the Getty Center.
SAT., 9/30: LISTING SHIP, ATOMIC SHERPAS et al., Echo Park Music Festival; LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES, Cal State Northridge; SILVERSUN PICKUPS, VIVA VOCE, THE KINGDOM, the Echo; STEVE LUKATHER, JOE SATRIANI, STEVE VAI, DWEEZIL ZAPPA, HoB; ROB ZOMBIE, GODSMACK, Verizon Wireless; GOOD CHARLOTTE, Avalon; PETER FRAMPTON, the Wiltern; JUDITH OWEN, Room 5 Lounge.
SUN., 10/1: MEZKLAH, VERY BE CAREFUL, DOWNBEATS, FUTURE PIGEON et al., Echo Park Music Festival; CALIBAN, the Whisky; DONNA SUMMER, L.A. County Fair; ROSIE FLORES, the Echo.
MON., 10/2: BAND OF HORSES, CHAD VANGAALEN, SIMON DAWES, Avalon; THE STILLS, the Fonda; LAMBCHOP, the Troubadour; CARY BROTHERS, JOSHUA RADIN, HoB; PINK MOUNTAINTOPS, the Echo.
TUES., 10/3: GYM CLASS HEROES, COBRA STARSHIP, the Knitting Factory; BUJU BANTON, the Century Club.
WED., 10/4: BILLY BRAGG, Henry Fonda Theater; SOTHIS, Safari Sam’s; FREE MORAL AGENTS, the Smell; STRATOVARIUS, HoB; PAUL SIMON, the Greek Theatre.
THURS., 10/5: JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, DEATH VESSEL, the Vista Theater; EPIC, Paladino’s; RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS, the Key Club; JET, BLOODCAT LOVE, Henry Fonda Theater; MAN MAN, Spaceland.