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Music Picks: FIDLAR, Muse and Lady Gaga 

Thursday, Jan 17 2013
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fri 1/18

Femi Kuti

EL REY THEATRE

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In 2009, the Nigerian government forcefully shut down the Shrine, the home base of Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti. By now, however, not only is the Shrine back but it's also a government-endorsed museum — a sign, Femi Kuti told one reporter, that the revolutionary genre his father started is stronger than ever. And Femi's own take on this particularly hypnotic, propulsive and fearless music is going strong, too, as presented on his recent (and fiery) Africa for Africa album. It's a relentless and heavy record from a man who works hard to keep his art pure and powerful, presenting the political and the personal without compromise. If a musician is a hypocrite, I asked him once, does that ruin his music? His answer was simple: "Yes." —Chris Ziegler

The Dollyrots

REDWOOD BAR & GRILL

You can tell that The Dollyrots are getting more popular when you hear Kelly Ogden sing about her increasingly hectic life on the road. "Wake up with my makeup on/Clothes still from the night before/Saw the sun come up again/Chicago may be Baltimore," the singer-bassist declares in a rapid-fire litany on the local pop-punk trio's self-titled fourth album. With their songs showing up in everything from The Vampire Diaries and Ugly Betty to The Price Is Right (!), The Dollyrots clearly are on the move nationally. Yet they haven't had to change their sound to find greater success. Ogden's cheerful, exuberant hooks are still buttressed by Luis Cabezas' surging waves of distorted guitar, finding that sweet spot between punky noise and winsome melody. —Falling James

sat 1/19

Steve Weingart & Renee Jones

BAKED POTATO

Keyboardist Steve Weingart and bassist-singer Renee Jones just might be contemporary music's odd couple. The bearded Weingart is likely the biggest NASCAR fan in jazz (he's even taken high-speed oval driving courses), while effervescent wife Renee grew up playing classical music. These days they are far from their shared Ohio roots, touring the world with guitarist Steve Lukather. Tonight Weingart and Jones team with sax/flute master Katisse Buckingham, along with drummer Simon Phillips, formerly with Jeff Beck/The Who and currently with Toto, for the release of their CD Observatory. Buckingham described the release concert for last year's outstanding Dialogue as being "like standing in front of a jet engine." The four can only hope for similar magic this time around. —Tom Meek

Jason Harnell

BLUE WHALE

If your dad wrote the exit theme for the television version of The Incredible Hulk, you'd have a lot to live up to, musically speaking. But as the prodigious son of a keyboard prodigy, Jason Harnell has acquitted himself well, both as a studio drummer for film and television and as an uber-creative jazz musician. One of the most interesting drummers in town, he conjures myriad intricate and subtle polyrhythmic ideas, with a simmering ferocity that could ignite at the smallest spark of inspiration, or agitation. Please don't make him angry — although you might like him when he's angry. Harnell co-leads his band, Just Fudge (formerly Sigmund Fudge) with organist Joe Bagg and guitarist Jamie Rosenn. They're sure to make a delicious, gooey mess. —Gary Fukushima

Cameo, The Ohio Players, S.O.S. Band, Dazz Band, L.T.D., Klymaxx

GIBSON AMPHITHEATrE

For all the rapturous veneration of hip-hop's artistic achievements and the explosive effect it's had on the culture over the past 30-something years, the genre's fine, fractious big brother — funk — still casts a long shadow. Time was, you couldn't prowl through any ghetto without soaking up a ceaseless, seductive barrage of gloriously bumping funk hits from every cocktail lounge, front-stoop boom box, passing vehicle and open apartment window. Tonight you'll hear plenty of 'em — "Shake Your Pants," "Take Your Time," "You Dropped a Bomb on Me." You'll also get plenty of additional syncopated heft from '70s spearheads Ohio Players and hyper-bad, all-female, '80s funk sirens Klymaxx. It's never too late, children. —Jonny Whiteside

sun 1/20

Lady Gaga

STAPLES CENTER

Lady Gaga might be even more calculating and fatally self-absorbed than her idol Madonna, but there's nonetheless a goofy, underlying charm to frothy tunes like the early hit "Paparazzi" that sometimes is obscured by the glittery smoke and mirrors of her onstage spectacles. It's not easy to be a mainstream dance-pop singer who aspires to be a transgressive LGBT rebel, and the onetime Stefani Germanotta usually ends up closer to the electronic middle of the road than to the deep underground. Turning Judas Iscariot into a sympathetic, seductive character might have seemed like a provocative idea, but ultimately Lady Gaga's allegorical 2011 single "Judas" was more sensual than profane. The big problem remains Germanotta's hardly transgressive tendency to lift music and fashion styles, whether she's paying homage to such well-known predecessors as Madge and Dale Bozzio or, like a reverse Robin Hood, figuratively taking that notorious plastic bubble dress off the back of the relatively obscure Kristeen Young. Even with her considerable charisma, it's not always clear who Lady Gaga really is. Also Mon. —Falling James

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