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 Tuesday: THE FRAMES at Avalon; GRINDERMAN, ARMEN RA at the Music Box; KITTEN, A HOUSE FOR LIONS at the Echo; THE CALIFORNIAN, LE SWITCH, TIGERBITCH at LaBrie's.
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks
Region: Out of Town
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BROTHER ALI AT EL REY
Brother Ali may not really be a brother, but the white rapper isn't exactly a Vanilla Ice–style poseur, having worked with such luminaries as Public Enemy's Chuck D. What really sets the Minnesota performer apart — and renders questions of racial identity irrelevant — is the superior way he crafts words together, with an artistry and a restlessly literate curiosity that are unrivaled. Ali can break it down on a personal level, whether he's articulately expressing his frustrations with past romantic partners or exploring his heartfelt spiritual connection to Islam, but he's even more of a master when it comes to challenging the status quo. He's unafraid of dissing corporate sponsors and loves to neatly eviscerate the U.S. government's lust for war and oppression of the poor: "Welcome to the united snakes/Land of the thief, home of the slave ... Try and separate a man from his soul/You'll only strengthen him and lose your own." On his most recent album, Us, Ali avoids coming off as preachy by blending his insights within grooves that are both artful and coolly funky. Salvation and moral elevation never felt so good. (Falling James)
LAZER SWORD, AGES, HOPPA & MINE+US AT THE AIRLINER
In the just-released video for Lazer Sword's crystalline synthesizer and sequence-driven track, "Beast's Reprise," a young man shakes his head back and forth and up and down violently, except it's shown in slow motion. This actually goes a long way to describing the Lazer Sword experience. The L.A.- and Berlin-based duo of Lando Kal and Low Limit specialize in a form of electronic music that's as big on face-oscillating bass tones and head-nod factor as it is on thick, gluey textures and morphing tempos. Though they've been dropping sizzling singles and mondo mixtapes for a few years now, the dudes only just released their debut album via up-and-coming Angeleno indie label Innovative Leisure. On Lazer Sword, the pair continue to, ahem, innovate, wrangling guest vocalists to do their thing over what works quite well as instrumental music. No word on whether L.A. art-rap archetype Myka 9 or Bay Area hyphy freak Turf Talk will make an appearance for their songs live, but it's worth showing up to find out. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday: JOHN McLAUGHLIN at Royce Hall, UCLA; ABYSSINIANS at Dub Club at the Echoplex; EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN at Music Box; MIRACLE PARADE, PIERRE DE REEDER (RILO KILEY), JERRY BORGE at Silverlake Lounge; ODD FUTURE at the Echo.
HOSANNAS AT SPACELAND
The Portland, Ore., band Hosannas really live up to the title of their song "Opposite People." They may seem at first like just another indie-rock group, but there are some unexpected delights lurking around the twists and turns of their songs. Funereal keyboards and splinters of spacey guitars align themselves with a lonely majesty on tracks like "When We Were Young," from their new release, Together. Conversely, "Happiness" is, well, happy, with a toy box of colorful guitar rays beaming over Brandon and Richard Laws' breathy, dreamy vocals. "Don't be afraid/Put out your heart/Happiness is all right," they chime with a refreshing lack of irony, as perky keyboards and jangling guitars spiral together upward into the ether. And then there's the older song "Opposite People," where they sound almost shell-shocked and disembodied, while a quivering hum wells up behind them. There's some strange magic going on here. (Falling James)
OS MUTANTES, ARIEL PINK AT THE MUSIC BOX
Brazilian Tropicalia pioneers Os Mutantes were formed in 1966 in São Paulo by brothers Arnaldo (bass/keyboards) and Sergio Baptista (guitar) and vocalist Rita Lee. Along with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, these Tropicalistas formed a movement that mishmashed trad folk music, sambas, psychedelia, avant-garde theatrics and politics. Mutantes' music was perhaps the strangest and most musically savory, a very weird blend of Brazilian rock and prog and psychedelia whose peculiar beauty hasn't dimmed these long years and even sounds a bit more relevant, as witnessed by their return to action after a 15-year break, with the album Haih or Amortecedor (Anti-). They're worshipped by all your pointy-head musos, including Beck, Devendra Banhart, David Byrne, Of Montréal, the Flaming Lips and, yes, Kurt Cobain. It's an inspired double bill, with the complementary Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti bringing their own improbability theories to play in the form of tunes from their strangely slick Before Today album (4 AD) — Pink's sort of ode/mash-up to Beatles-ish glam rock and West Coast funk. (John Payne)
STONES THROW VS. DIM MAK VS. SMOG VS. DUB CLUB AT EXCHANGE L.A.
Here's one supercolossal beatdown battle royale between the apples and the oranges and the pears and the grapes: Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash makes its U.S. debut with an all-out war or kinda contest, where four "collectives" of the L.A. persuasion throw down their best onstage and the "winner" is decided by the crowd. Modeled on the classic Jamaican sound clashes, tonight's big smackdown features some real serious-cred types purveying electro, roots reggae, dubstep and vintage funk/soul/hip-hop: Dim Mak's bringing Them Jeans, Thee Mike B, DJ Fashen, DJ Funk; Dub Club's got Echodelic Soundsystem with Tom Chasteen, Boss Harmony, Dungeonmaster, Roy Corduroy and Jah Faith, plus the renowned Brigadier Jerry; dubstep specialist Smog offers 12th Planet, Craze, Juakali + Kemst; Stones Throw boasts Peanut Butter Wolf, Mayer Hawthorne, J Rocc and Dâm Funk. You gotta be 21 to get into the venue, at 618 S. Spring St., downtown. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday: EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN at the Echoplex; EPMD at the Key Club; Miss Derringer at the Troubadour; LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO, THE STEELWELLS, PITHY SWEET at Silverlake Lounge; EVEREST, HE'S MY BROTHER SHE'S MY SISTER at the Echo.