Fela! on Tour
Afrobeat fans unwilling to spend $95 on an orchestra seat for Fela! at the Ahmanson should scare up the $18 required to enter the Troubadour tonight, as cast members and the band from that Tony-winning musical (about the life and work of Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti) will perform some of the show's source material in its original small-room setting. Given that the Fela! players include folks from Brooklyn's Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, there's a chance they'll venture beyond the official score during this one-off club gig; Antibalas' most recent studio disc, 2007's Security, contains some killer grooves well worth reviving. Either way, expect an evening of nonstop movement. —Mikael Wood
Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble
Armenian-born pianist Vardan Ovsepian channels a modern-day Schubert, writing copious amounts of music during the day and hanging out in the clubs at night. Plus, he's a true musical savant and a friend to all good musicians. With four solo recordings for Fresh Sound New Talent and another with legendary drummer Peter Erskine, Ovsepian's talent is duly noted. His VOCE project unites musicians of varied backgrounds, including cello virtuoso Artyom Manukyan; Marcel Carmargo, a Brazilian guitarist who tours with Michael Buble; Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, a violist and string arranger for singers including John Legend and Erykah Badu; Adrian Terrazas, a reed player and member of the Mars Volta; and a choir of some of L.A.'s finest young vocalists. Ghosts of 18th-century German geniuses rejoice — chamber music has been reclaimed by the revelers. Also Sat. —Gary Fukushima
LIONS! TIGERS! BEARS! at Cobalt Café; GRAFITTI at the Baked Potato; PENGUIN PRISON at the Echo; RICK ROSS, BUSTA RHYMES at Nokia Theatre; ALBERT LEE at McCabe's.
The Middle Class
Santa Ana's Middle Class were so hip, they were playing hardcore punk two years before everyone else, literally inventing the genre with their influential 1978 single, "Out of Vogue." By the time hardcore became the major means of expression for a generation of angry suburban jocks, the Middle Class had coolly moved on to darker and more adventurous post-punk and art-funk explorations, before disbanding far ahead of the curve, in 1982. Although brothers Jeff (vocals) and Mike Atta (guitar) also played with Alice Bag in the goth-punk Cambridge Apostles, and drummer Matt Simon later fronted Stones-style alt-rockers the Pontiac Brothers, the whole band didn't get back together until 2010, when it reunited at the Frontier Records anniversary at the Echoplex. Driven by bassist Mike Patton's spiny bass lines, the old Class-ic blasts still sound convulsive and urgently foreboding. —Falling James
With a career dating back to the dawn of rave, Laurent Garnier has played the hottest clubs and festivals on the planet. He's withstood every electronic music trend since the late 1980s. He's crafted some of the biggest club hits of the dance-music era, including '90s techno jam "Crispy Bacon" and the jazz-inflected number "The Man With the Red Face." He also doesn't play L.A. nearly as often as we would like, which makes his return to Saturday night mega-party Avaland a can't-miss event. This time around, Garnier will hit Avaland's stage as part of L.B.S., a rousing three-piece outfit that merges deejaying with live performance. Joining Garnier are L.B.S. members Benjamin Rippert and Stephane Dri (aka ScanX). They are scheduled for a four-hour set at the club. Yes, they will need all that time: A live version of "Gnanmankoudji," from Garnier's album Tales of a Kleptomaniac, popped up online edited down to 21 and a half minutes. Prepare to stay out late. —Liz Ohanesian
HOUSE OF BLUES
The West Coast drunk-punk veterans recently turned up at an impromptu acoustic gig in support of Occupy L.A., but this week they're back in regular business with a three-night stand at House of Blues. The shows come near the end of a monthlong tour referred to on NOFX's website as Brogasm 2012, thanks to the unusually large number of support acts they've recruited for the trek. Warm-up duties fall tonight to fellow old-timers Lagwagon and local cow-punk crew Old Man Markley, the latter of whom are scheduled to play Tuesday and Wednesday nights as well. Wednesday you'll also get No Use for a Name, who sound more like Foo Fighters these days than they did when FF axman Chris Shiflett was actually in the band. —Mikael Wood
AUTOPSY at the Echoplex; THE GEARS at Ghettogloss; MIKE KENEALLY at the Baked Potato.
Slits Tribute Night
Even amid the wild profusion of charismatic punk and post-punk musicians in the late 1970s and early '80s, few groups were as striking and unusual as the Slits. The London coven was among the earliest punk bands, blossoming in 1976 amid the ruins of that crucial Britpunk nexus the Flowers of Romance, and then branching out into ever-freakier directions until its 1982 breakup. Just a few years ago, founding members Tessa Pollitt and singer Ari Up brought a revamped version of the Slits to this venue and dazzled with a set of new punk and dub-laced tunes from their provocative and ebulliently spacey comeback album, Trapped Animal. It seemed that even better things were in store, until Ari Up — a playfully subversive dreadlocked warrior and larger-than-life punk Pied Piper — died suddenly in 2010. At tonight's Part Time Punks show, members of the eerie fuzz-reverb tribe Vivian Girls, Rainbow Arabia, Tamaryn and Telepathe, Raw Geronimo and White Magic invoke her spirit. —Falling James