By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Also playing Monday:
TUESDAY, JULY 7
Vieux Farka Touré at the Troubadour
Malian guitarist-singer Vieux Farka Touré is the son of the late guitar great Ali Farka Touré, the man who drew the world’s ears toward West Africa’s deep connections with the blues of the Mississippi Delta. The younger Vieux takes his explorations further afield, drawing from the American and British heavy-rock and drum-’n’-bass scenes and especially the easy flow of Jamaican dub and reggae-related styles. His new album, Fondo (Six Degrees), finds Touré displaying his considerable and bracingly cliché-free electric-guitar chops in reverbed realms ornamented with traditional textures from talking drum, chanted choruses and the harplike kora, the latter provided by Touré’s mentor Toumani Diabate. When they’re not simply burning with polyrhythmic intensity, Touré’s self-written tunes on Fondo are graced with a meditative, intimate vibe whose soothingly aerified feel owes much to their often miraculously spare instrumental settings. But look out, because he’s liable to sneak up and karate-chop you with that fiery guitar. Africa rocks, should you have wondered, and here’s the proof. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE HOLD STEADY, THE BRONX at El Rey Theatre; YES, ASIA at the Gibson Amphitheatre; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE, UKULELE LOKI, KLAUS KNOMI, PETROJVIC BLASTING CO. at the Bordello; FRITZ HELDER & THE PHANTOMS at Cinespace.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8
Watts Ensemble at the Bootleg Theater
Drummer Brian Watson supposedly launched the Watts Ensemble on a dare, waging whether he could not only write cohesive music for 10 or so players, but also recruit and retain them. In a city as diverse as L.A., Watson knew they were out there, but the real challenge was where to find them. Months of Craig’s List ads (seeking those mutually interested in Stravinsky, Devo and the Coltranes), friend-to-friend references and music-store leads steadily built an amalgamated mutt of an outfit, but a smart and sassy one too, and tight as a drum — even though, at times, the Charles Mingus influence is overshadowing. Mostly it’s a blast to see and hear a live, knowledgeable ensemble like this onstage. At times the sounds are low — meandering flutes and winds, soothing-to-nonexistent strings, and just one waning refrain the only connection to the larger piece of work. Then, just like that, the bottom and bass rattle back in, motivated by Mingus’ Pithecanthropus Erectus stumble and inspired by the cinematic hues of Taxi Driver’s nighttime drives. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Wednesday:
DIONNE WARWICK at the Grammy Museum; THE OLD 97’S, RHETT MILLER, MURRAY HAMMOND at the Henry Fonda Theater; LMFAO, HYPER CRUSH, DJ CLASS, FAR EAST MOVEMENT, SKEET SKEET, CHRIS YOUNG at the Canyon; MIKA MIKO, TY SEGALL at the Smell; LITTLE GHOST, MORPHINE & CUPCAKES at Taix.
THURSDAY, JULY 9
Joan Baez, Tift Merritt at Santa Monica Pier
There’s something kind of wonderful about the thought of hearing folk icon Joan Baez’s pure and mighty voice completely unbridled, with only the ceiling of the sky above to contain it. Of course, that powerful weapon is sometimes her biggest downfall, as well as her greatest strength. With pipes that strong, she has a tendency to oversing, giving a needlessly operatic oomph to folk songs that usually require a starker simplicity. Luckily, Steve Earle kept that in mind when he produced Baez’s recent CD, Day After Tomorrow, toning down the volume in favor of subtler, more intuitive interpretations of haunting songs by Patty Griffin and Tom Waits. North Carolina singer Tift Merritt rocks it up a little harder than Baez, with the occasional digression into artful balladry. While Merritt is considered a country stylist, she also has a good feel for Dusty Springfield–style pop and Stax-y R&B workouts. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
ABC, BERLIN, WANG CHUNG, HEAVEN 17, CUTTING CREW at the Gibson Amphitheatre; EVEREST, RED CORTEZ at the Hammer Museum; STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE THREE, THE URINALS at the Echo; DUSTY RHODES & THE RIVER BAND, THESE UNITED STATES, OLIN & THE MOON at the Echoplex; YOU ME & IOWA, THE DAMSELLES, OAK & GORSKI, RACHEL GOODRICH, SARA ROBERT at the Hotel Café.