L.A. COUNTY HOLIDAY CELEBRATION AT THE DOROTHY CHANDLER PAVILION
The county's afternoon holiday party is more like a three-ring circus, featuring two dozen choirs, bands and dance troupes from around the globe. The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and the Colburn Children's Choir and Young Men's Chorus will raise the Chandler's roof with seasonal musical greetings, and the Elliot Deutsch Big Band swings with jazzed-up Christmas standards. Antics Performance puts a hip-hop twist on "Sleigh Ride," while Mr. Vallenato steps lively with Colombian rhythms, and Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez evokes a Christmas in Chiapas. Amid all of that eclectic merriment, don't miss local duo Loch & Key, whose latest, Jupiter's Guide for Submariners, is an oft-enchanting blend of intimate balladry, bossa nova pop and glittery rock workouts. Backed by former American Music Club guitarist Sean Hoffman, singer Leyla Akdogan coos languid tunes like "In the Town of the Queen of the Angels" with an inviting purr. "Baby (I'm Thinking About You, Me & Somewhere)" is a cottony travelogue wrapped up in the cocoon of Hoffman's golden guitar shimmers and Akdogan's dreamy wanderlust. As pleasingly mellow as they can be, Loch & Key rock it up considerably on the breezily trippy idyll "A Rather Large, Television-Shaped Head" and a cleverly fuzzed-out and funky remake of Bill Withers' "Use Me." (Falling James)
TERMINAL TWILIGHT, THE PRESENT MOMENT AT SPACELAND
These are in fact cold and bleak times, scary times, wind-howlingly chilling times, which is why the gothy electronic Witch House wave seems so appropriate. Houston's Disaro Records is all about Witch House and its attendant harsh 'n' grim subgenre sickness, such as the minimal-synth malevolence perfected by the label's founder, Robert Disaro, who'll death-DJ tonight. Disaro's ace is the Present Moment, multi-instrumentalist Scott Milton's industrially tinged electro-goth grab bag lashed with new-wavey depresso-pop. His heavy-duty The High Road album is Throbbing Gristle–humps–Adam and the Ants. Reminiscent of Italy's late (and obscurely great) Chrisma, L.A.'s Terminal Twilight duo have designed a detached, disciplined disco beat/vintage-synth-sequences/dubbed-out mindfork, all rain-slicked back alleys, flickering bulbs and a sultry danger lurking. Check too their cruelly cool remix of the Polyamorous Affair's "The Avenues." Also DJ sets courtesy Black Rainbow and Zane. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday: BILLY VERA at Vitello's.
L.A. BEATDOWN: 6BLOCC & BUSDRIVER, DJ SWAMP, KLEPTOMADDOX, SCARUB AT THE MUSIC BOX
It's kinda comforting to know that dubstep does not break for Christmas. Probably the most pummeling electronic-music movement of the last two decades, the dank and moody, bass-addled stuff is exactly what you'd want to hear if, say, you've got no one to carve a goose with on the year's biggest Christian(ish) holiday. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to attend L.A. Beatdown. Like 6Blocc, for instance, one of the first and loudest local practitioners of the U.K. beat style. In fact, the guy's been an Anglophile long enough to be a bona fide ambassador, having founded the city's first jungle-music weekly back in 1994 in the then-abandoned Belmont Tunnel. As an added enticement, multitalented art-rap maven Busdriver will be spitting over 6Blocc's wonky, warbling sounds. The legendary DJ Swamp also will be performing — he was Beck's scratch man during the Odelay years and went on to collaborate with everyone from Devo to Katy Perry. Plus Living Legends MC Scarub, Corona duo Kleptomaddox and a handful of others. (Chris Martins)
INFECTED MUSHROOM AT AVALON
It takes a special sort of group to collaborate with both Perry Farrell and Korn's Jonathan Davis on the same album, in 2009 no less. But Infected Mushroom really is a rare thing — an Israeli trance duo heavily influenced by electronic strains of Indian psychedelic music, and otherwise obsessed with the kind of nü-metal rap and hard-rock hybrids perfected stateside in the mid-1990s. This is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, main aural architects Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani are very good at what they do — which involves combining high levels of studied musicality (on a mix of digital and acoustic instruments) with eerie throbbing textures and high-energy, major-chord guitar thrash. In person, it makes for one helluva rave but from what actually sounds like a live band. Last year's album is called The Legend of the Black Shawarma and it's one of Infected Mushroom's heaviest yet. Rally your flagging teen angst and greet the meat. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday: XMAS AT THE KITTY at the Liquid Kitty.
RIOT GRRL XMAS CARNIVAL AT THE SMELL
The annual Riot Grrl Xmas Carnival is for a good cause, benefiting the Downtown Women's Center, which provides housing for homeless women. But it's also an anomaly amid all of this seasonal holiday cheer, with defiant femme-punk bands railing about social inequity and personal politics instead of harmonizing sweetly about sleigh bells and partridges in pear trees. Bay Area quartet the Splinters have a coolly poppy Fuzzbox-style melodic drive underneath their primal garage-rock guitars, and the combination is oddly mesmerizing. Locals Las Sangronas y El Cabron have a more blisteringly raw hardcore-punk stridency in songs like "No Limit," while the Outskirts' Charlie DeKay howls with a gutturally scabrous and barely intelligible voice on such furious thrashers as "My Friends Were Right." Anus Kings, meanwhile, have a stripped-down folk sound with acoustic blues guitar and contrarian, sarcastic anthems like "Man of My House" and "Predictable Teenage Rebels." (Falling James)