Rock Picks: Sunset Junction Street Festival, El Vez, Café Tacuba 

Also, Veruca Salt, Mike Einziger, Kings X and Junior Brown

Wednesday, Aug 20 2008


Playing Thursday:

PETER & GORDON, GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS at Santa Monica Pier, 7 p.m.; GZA at El Rey Theatre; KILLA PRIEST at Blue Cafe; BOB LOG III, SCOTT H. BIRAM at the Echo; G.B.H. at the Key Club; PREVIOUSLY ON LOST at Knitting Factory; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; IO ECHO, THE OOHLAS at Silverlake Lounge; JOHN DOE at Levitt Pavilion, Pasadena.

click to flip through (8) El Vez: Taking care of business
  • El Vez: Taking care of business

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Veruca Salt at the Viper Room

Veruca Salt are less a band than an alternative-rock creation myth. Featuring a rare kind of reconfiguration, the band are the same in name now as they were when Louise Post and Nina Gordon ruled their Chicago-bred indie-pop outfit, gamine queens who made alt hits out of endearing, screechy, palatable versions of what their peers in the Breeders and the Pixies were up to. “Seether,” “Volcano Girls” and a few other marginal successes hinged on the rebel-lite best-friends-forever stuff that defined the Post and Gordon dynamic. Gordon went one way, to AM radio workday pop, releasing a solo record with all the pink and blue of her former band. Post went another, and recast Veruca Salt as an archetype of edgy leather bar band, with slow-burn hard rock and vaguely goth influences. This version has been aggressively pursued, and the original’s influence, so familiar within the ’90s alt-rock paradigm, has been long abandoned. (Kate Carraway)

Café Tacuba, Ima Robot at the Greek Theatre

One of Mexico’s most relentlessly inventive rock bands, Café Tacuba went a little more traditional than usual on their latest, last year’s excellent Sino. The classic-rock tradition, that is: Sino contains no shortage of busy Keith Moon drum rolls, frilly Rick Wakeman keyboard licks and groovy Doobie Brothers guitar riffs. Of course, with its bold cut-and-paste aesthetic — check out the stylistic twists and turns in the eight-minute “Volver a Comenzar” — the album is still proof that these guys aren’t content simply to admire the object of their affection; taking things apart to see how they work is still Café Tacuba’s preferred method of homage. Local synth-rock openers Ima Robot never managed the mainstream breakthrough their two major-label discs seemed designed for, but they’ve kept on trucking anyway; head to their MySpace for a listen to some unreleased new material. (Mikael Wood)

Also playing Friday:

at Hollywood Bowl; The Humpers, Zeke, Lords of Altamont, Blockage at Alex’s Bar; Magnuson, Siberian Summer Camp at the Scene.


El Vez at the Key Club

The mainstream media want us to believe that there are just two legitimate candidates for president, but those fools are forgetting an important outsider with a strong chance to shake up the election. No, not Ron Paul — we’re talking about El Vez. The man born Robert Lopez would be a much better commander in chief than those other guys. Luckily, he agrees, which explains his current “El Vez for Prez” tour. For starters, he’s paid homage to Elvis Presley for more than a decade, and this country could use more of the King in the Oval Office. El Vez’s shows feature numerous costume changes, which is important in a capitalist society. He’s also a unifier, a man who can perform portions of up to 200 songs in one setting by diverse acts such as Presley, James Brown, the Who, R.E.M., the Beastie Boys, Rod Stewart and Santana. And, to top it off, he can sing in español, which will come in handy when Lou Dobbs’ biggest fear comes true. (Ryan Ritchie)

Mike Einziger at Royce Hall

When Incubus first emerged as part of the nü-metal movement in the mid-’90s, nobody would’ve had any reason to suspect that a member of the L.A.-based band would someday go on to write an original orchestral composition: That they once named an album Fungus Amongus is these dudes’ eternal cross to bear. Yet, starting with 1999’s Make Yourself (which included their breakout acoustic hit, “Drive”), Incubus have slowly transformed into one of the most thoughtful bands in modern rock; they don’t get anywhere near the respect Pearl Jam do, but Incubus’ tunefully cerebral anthems aren’t a world removed from Eddie Vedder’s. Thanks to a bout of carpal-tunnel syndrome he suffered following the tour for 2006’s Light Grenades, guitarist Mike Einziger found himself unable to play guitar for a stretch, which led him to compose End.>vacuum, his 40-minute debut as an orchestral composer. Tonight the Gravitron Modern Ensemble will perform the piece for the first time. It’s called vindication. (Mikael Wood)

Sunset Junction Street Festival in Silver Lake

The annual Sunset Junction Street Festival in Silver Lake has expanded so much in recent years that it’s grown far beyond its original roots as a neighborhood fair that booked primarily underground local bands. As the prices have risen sharply at this formerly donation-only event, the consolation prize has been that the promoters have sometimes landed big-name headliners such as the New York Dolls, the Cramps and Sleater-Kinney. This year’s lineup doesn’t boast such major surprises, and it didn’t help that one of the original headliners, soul legend Isaac Hayes, recently died. But, hold on — Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave) is coming to save the day with a tribute to the late, great Black Moses. You also get: the primal, heavily ripping Akron blues-rock duo the Black Keys; the soulful indie-punk hammering and droning, choppy riff entanglements of Long Beach’s ambitious town criers, Cold War Kids; Monterrey, Mexico’s sleek dance-rock assassins Kinky; the maxi-beat-fortified funk and horny horns of Brooklyn’s Antibalas; reunited, hazily low-key country-rock stylists Beachwood Sparks; Broken Social Scene, the sprawling Toronto collective that’s launched simpatico performers like Metric and Feist; and several SoCal bands with varying degrees of populist potential, including new-wavey Joshua Tree art-rockers Gram Rabbit, ecstatic harmonizers Bodies of Water and smart-pop rockers Oliver Future. 3700-4300 blocks of Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. Also Sun. (Falling James)

Also playing Saturday:

at Hollywood Bowl; The Germs, The Mae Shi, Spider Problem at the Echo; Sondre Lerche, Sylvie Lewis at the Troubadour; THE BLUE HAWAIIANS at the Farmers Market; COW BOP at Boulevard Music; daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra at California Plaza; CASXIO at El Cid.

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