Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson
While Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson are often classified as "outlaws," these revered artists are, in many ways, total opposites. Rhodes scholar Kristofferson graduated from the University of Oxford the same year that Haggard was released from his three-year stint at San Quentin, and each pursued entirely different paths to achieving country music stardom (Kristofferson working as a Nashville studio janitor, Haggard knocking his brains out in the blood buckets of Bakersfield). Both men, of course, excel at the fine art of songwriting, and this common bond brings them together for what promises to be a particularly chewy honky-tonk showdown. Yep, they're gonna trade off, mano a mano, and while Hag can sing circles around Kris, expect an intense musical experience. Arrive stoned, 'cause they both definitely will. —Jonny Whiteside
Insane Clown Posse
GROVE OF ANAHEIM
One can argue that Insane Clown Posse benefited less from their recent collaboration with Jack White than did White, who now can be said to possess a sense of humor. ICP, meanwhile, have scarcely beaten back the hipster condescension with which they've long been viewed. (Plus, the White-produced "Leck Mich Im Arsch" is pretty wack.) But of course if you're headed to Anaheim tonight to see your Faygo-guzzling heroes, you probably couldn't care less how well (or not) Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope made out in the deal; ICP seem to exist solely to serve the needs of their fans. Minus the fact that they sound nothing like Don Henley, they're basically a Bob Lefsetz email come to life. —Mikael Wood
Little Dragon's Machine Dreams coolly married spacey electronicized eclectica to classic R&B, soul and dancehall — a sound somehow appropriate for our dystopian times. The Gothenburg, Sweden, band's hefty album sales and ballooning fanbase were aided immeasurably when fan David Sitek of TV on the Radio invited the band to open shows on his 2009 U.S. dates (getting the track "Twice" played on Grey's Anatomy didn't hurt, either). Little Dragon's tireless roadwork included an appearance at Coachella with Gorillaz, and their third album, Ritual Union, is recently out. Sure, you can dance to their hypno-beat cut-n-pasted with singer Yukimi Nagano's soulfire croon and mildly eccentric stabs at nu-style dubstep. But dig deep into these dark, dense textures — now that's what we call a headspace. —John Payne
Though Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (O.M.D.) aren't the first name checked by today's crop of '80s revivalists, they nonetheless cranked out hits (especially in their native United Kingdom) that — considering that this is their second U.S. tour in seven months — apparently still resonate today. The surprise of their recent "classic lineup" reunion has been both the energy and enthusiasm of these fiftysomethings on stage and the youth of many of those watching them. Evidently O.M.D.'s 10-year hiatus was effective in reviving both their interest and ours in the wistful, Casio-toned pop of the likes of "Enola Gay" and "Electricity." Maybe those endless reruns of Pretty in Pink (which features Orchestral Manoeuvres' "If You Leave") have an upside after all. —Paul Rogers
CULTURE COLLIDE FESTIVAL (through Oct. 9); ELECTRIC SIX at Key Club; NICK LOWE at Largo; VIVA VOCE, PARSON REDHEADS at Satellite; CYMBALS EAT GUITARS at Echo; FAUSTIN LINYEKULA, FLAMME KAPAYA at REDCAT; INCUBUS at Hollywood Bowl; KEVIN MAHOGANY at Doubletree Culver Club.
DIM MAK STUDIOS
This Bay Area deep-house dude just released a solid new album, Outside the Skyline, with vocal appearances by Bebel Gilberto, Meshell Ndegeocello and Freddie McGregor, among others. It's exceedingly smooth stuff that staves off background-music utility with handsome vocal hooks and squishy synth textures — think Sade as remixed by an A-list chillwave act. Tonight Migs will celebrate the record's release with a live gig slated to include a performance by disco-soul diva Evelyn "Champagne" King, who gives Skyline's "Everybody" a welcome shot of big-city sass. —Mikael Wood
Charles Altura Trio
When it comes to "hot young guitarists" in L.A. jazz and fusion circles, the name heard most frequently is that of Charles Altura. The Stanford Anthropology grad made a significant name for himself over the last two years touring with the Stanley Clarke Band, with Clarke giving Altura major props for his contributions to their 2010 Contemporary Jazz Grammy Award–winning album. Tonight, Altura offers up his own mix of originals, reworked popular tunes with an alternative/indie-rock feel, and a few jazz standards. Altura will be backed by drummer Steve Hass, along with bassist Hamilton Price. Don't be surprised if Clarke keyboardist Ruslan Sirota drops by late to join in the fun. Go, and you'll see why some refer to Altura as "(John) Scofield on Speed." —Tom Meek
BLINK-182, MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE at Hollywood Bowl; NICK LOWE at Largo; FAUSTIN LINYEKULA, FLAMME KAPAYA at REDCAT; MEGAFAUN at Satellite; KEITH URBAN at Staples Center; JOHN DAVERSA QUARTET at Vibrato.