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Music Picks: Hard Summer, Sunset Strip Music Festival and Bob Dylan 

Thursday, Aug 1 2013
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fri 8/2

Kitten

THE TROUBADOUR

click to enlarge PHOTO BY AARON D. SETTIPANE - The Dollyrots: See Thursday.
  • PHOTO BY AARON D. SETTIPANE
  • The Dollyrots: See Thursday.

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Kitten, local kids born in the '90s yet channeling the '80s, are an A&R exec's dream. The group is a collision of vibrant youth and timely nostalgia for a decade that seemingly has been in vogue for, well, a decade now. Above and amongst pulsing, New Order–ish synths, front gal Chloe Chaidez's detached, dreamy delivery recalls a slightly more intelligible Liz Fraser, albeit yelp-flecked like Siouxsie Sioux or Björk. Yet for all of Kitten's techie bleeps and bloops, the quintet's expression is rooted in the organic, as their frequent acoustic performances demonstrate, and onstage they are every bit the rock band, replete with insistent electric guitars and occasionally epic drumming. Personified by the effervescent Chaidez, Kitten's animated concerts wonderfully reimagine rather than faithfully re-create the group's more intimate, introverted recordings. —Paul Rogers

Blackalicious, Busdriver

ECHOPLEX

Words will be flying fast and furiously tonight at this hip-hop summit featuring the Sacramento duo Blackalicious and local rapper Busdriver. Both acts are distinguished by brainy, rapid-fire tongue twisters that provoke the mind at the same time they get you moving. In Blackalicious, it's Chief Xcel who lays down the infectious array of beats over which the aptly named Gift of Gab layers his thoughtful insights, which veer more toward the personal than the political. Considering how brilliant they are together, it's a bit surprising that Blackalicious haven't released a full-length album since 2005's The Craft, although The Gift of Gab has been busy making excellent solo albums like The Next Logical Progression. Busdriver's busy raps are more wide-ranging, commenting on racism and inequality with a poetically searing and rabidly sarcastic vision on such madcap albums as Jhelli Beam and last year's provocatively pun-laden Beaus$Eros. —Falling James

sat 8/3

HARD Summer

LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK

"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." HARD Summer is taking that sentiment to heart. On its sixth go-around, the electronic-music event stretches over Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight. Spreading its formidable stable of talent across four stages, one has no choice but to attend both days to get the full experience. Among the artists you can catch only at HARD Summer are the multifaceted Ed Banger lot, who are bringing a posse, including Justice DJing, to celebrate their tastemaker label's 10-year anniversary. Day one has the slick machinations of the youthful Disclosure, Duke Dumont's feel-good house (previewed on HARD Summer Mixtape #2), Flying Lotus' glitchy experiment-hop and fan favorite 2 Chainz. Day two has Empire of the Sun presenting their Pixar-inspired, sci-fi/fantasy live set and the fearsome Rudimental offering up their zany, happy hits. —Lily Moayeri

Bob Dylan & His Band, Wilco, My Morning Jacket

VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATER

The Americanarama Festival of Music rolls into the Southland tonight, led by a 72-year-old Pied Piper from Duluth, Minn., who should be settling down into an easy retirement but instead finds himself in the middle of a decade-long creative peak. This guy doesn't play much guitar these days, preferring to stand behind his keyboards like a pulpit preacher, and his voice is so filled with a lifetime of sediment and sentiment that it's now gruffer than Tom Waits'. He's unlikely to bother ingratiating himself to the audience with between-song pleasantries, and he tends to drawl so far behind the beat, some of his phrases don't show up until the next tune. But Bob Dylan, bluesier than ever, is still writing great songs of soulful wanderlust ("Duquesne Whistle") and plain old lust ("Thunder on the Mountain"). He challenges himself further by following the electric, elaborate guitar constructions of My Morning Jacket and, speaking of guitars, the spacey, Nels Cline–infused ramblings of Wilco. —Falling James

Linkin Park, Awolnation, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, et al.

SUNSET STRIP MUSIC FESTIVAL STREET FEST

Back for its sixth annual edition, Sunset Strip Music Festival is a three-day, multi-venue celebration of this storied stretch of rock & roll history, which lately centers around a Saturday street festival between San Vicente Boulevard and Doheny Drive. SSMF Street Fest headliners traditionally include artists who cut their performing teeth on the Sunset Strip (including Mötley Crüe in 2011 and Slash in 2010), so Agoura Hills' electro-speckled rock juggernaut Linkin Park, which debuted (as Xero) at the Whisky A Go Go in 1997, make apt poster-toppers this year. Members of fellow 2013 highlights Awolnation also did their time on Strip stages while performing in Under the Influence of Giants and Hometown Hero, while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, though originally from San Fran, also played the Whisky back when. —Paul Rogers

sun 8/4

Engelbert Humperdinck

STARLIGHT BOWL

Engelbert Humperdinck, the steamy British belter whose intense 1967 version of "Please Release Me" stopped cold The Beatles' bid for a 12th consecutive U.K. No. 1, surfs in atop a tsunami of gloriously cheesy hits ("Quando Quando Quando," "After the Lovin' ") and some legitimately brilliant performances of old-school country weepers ("Am I That Easy to Forget?" "There Goes My Everything"). It's a patented combination that always makes for a boffo pop TKO. Humperdinck, born Arnold Dorsey, actually began his musical life as an aspiring rocker, but after his chum (and Tom Jones' manager) Gordon Mills hung the hijacked-from-an-19th-century-composer moniker on him and remade him as a balladeer, the formula proved to carry universal appeal. Humperdinck's pipes are still marvelously lustrous and, taken with his set list of certifiable classics and the fact that the Starlight Bowl is a BYOB-friendly venue, one would have to be nuts not to celebrate the occasion. —Jonny Whiteside

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