DUDAMEL/MAHLER 9TH AT WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
"A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything." So said Gustav Mahler, and his valedictory ninth symphonic work (composed in 1909-10) seems to do just that. Like an enormous furry beast ruffing and cooing in its sleep, dreaming of the hunt and licking honey from its paws, the 9th Symphony is a journey of contrasting blissful highs and ponderous, sentimental depths. This elegiac song cycle — representing Mahler's love of life on earth, and the desire to live out his days in peace and harmony with nature before the Reaper comes knocking — is particularly moving in the noble way it spills out sensual elation, hinting at inevitable loss and decay. The first and last movements are nearly overwhelming in this respect, but conductor Gustavo Dudamel, an experienced and sensitive interpreter of Mahler's works — the Dude claimed his first fame after winning the Bamberg Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in 2004 — will guide us through to the not-so-tragic end. Also Sat. (John Payne)
THE MELVINS AT THE SATELLITE
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THE BUDOS BAND AT EL REY
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MAC MILLER AT THE TROUBADOUR
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SOUL SESSIONS AT THE GRAND STAR
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JIMMY WEBB, TOM RUSSELL, JESSE WINCHESTER AT LARGO
The great singer-pianist Jimmy Webb should need no introduction, but he composed a slew of airy late-'60s hits for the Fifth Dimension ("Up, Up and Away," "Paper Cup"), actor Richard Harris ("MacArthur Park") and, of course, Glen Campbell ("Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"). In more recent years, he's written film and TV scores, Broadway musicals and a book about songwriting, and he continues to release underrated solo albums. Webb has been a frequent visitor to Largo, and tonight he hosts a songwriting salon with pals Tom Russell and Jesse Winchester. Russell is a veteran country musician, visual artist and novelist who — besides penning tunes for Johnny Cash, Iris DeMent and Nanci Griffith — has collaborated with such stellar literary figures as the Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the late Charles Bukowski. Once championed by The Band's Robbie Robertson, the Virginia songwriter Winchester has written songs for Joan Baez and Elvis Costello and likely has many stories to share about his long exile in Canada after leaving the United States during the Vietnam War. (Falling James)
Also Playing Friday: TOAD THE WET SPROCKET at the Key Club; JOHN DOE at McCabe's.
LISSIE, THE PIERCES, GEORGE STANFORD AT THE MUSIC BOX
Rock Island, Ill.–born Elisabeth Maurua — aka Lissie — has had the kind of career that only makes sense in hindsight. She toured with Lenny Kravitz in 2008. A song she recorded with L.A. house DJ Morgan Page, "The Longest Road," picked up a Grammy nomination that same year when Deadmau5 remixed it. Her 2009 EP Why You Runnin' was produced by a Band of Horses member and featured a collaboration with Brit singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt. Her latest is 2010's Catching a Tiger LP, which was recorded in Nashville by Grammy-winning Kings of Leon producer Jaquire King. So what does it all mean? Frankly, that Lissie has been aiming for stardom since day one. That shouldn't be a turnoff. Her songs are beautifully written collisions of country, folk, rock and pop, which have turned the ear of both big radio DJs and music snobs alike (check the moody guitar-shredder "In Sleep"). And live, her notoriously haunting voice and wicked picking more than prove this artist's considerable merit. (Chris Martins)
DEAD MEADOW, SWEET APPLE AT THE SATELLITE
Dead Meadow are often lumped in with the stoner-rock scene, and their psychedelic rambles exude a heaviness that's impressively powerful, but the Washington, D.C., trio's music also has a subtler, more experimental side that can be quite mesmerizing. The group recently released a new album, Three Kings, and reunited with original drummer Mark Laughlin for an Australian tour. Tonight, Dead Meadow headline over Sweet Apple, a fascinating new project that pairs Dinosaur Jr. guitarist J. Mascis with contrarian wordsmith John Petkovic, a Cleveland Plain-Dealer columnist who's played guitar with Guided by Voices and fronted Cobra Verde and the early-'80s indie-rock paragons Death of Samantha. The collaboration occurred when Petkovic, in despair over the death of his mom, found himself driving randomly across the country, from Ohio to Massachusetts, where he was taken in by Mascis and bassist Dave Sweetapple. They soon were joined by Cobra Verde guitarist Tim Parnin and formed Sweet Apple, whose aptly titled debut album, Love & Desperation, blends Petkovic's terminally sarcastic lyrics ("I wasn't born/I was detached/It made my mother cry") and Mascis' fuzzed-out guitar and drums with all of the pain and misery frosted with deceptively ebullient power-pop hooks and tangled hard-rock "Godzilla" riffs. (Falling James)
BAD BOOKS AT THE TROUBADOUR
Bad Books is New York indie-folk guy Kevin Devine in collaboration with members of Manchester Orchestra, the Atlanta-based band of Built to Spill acolytes who've racked up plaudits over the last few years from people who love to worry aloud about the importance of preserving loud guitar rock. On the outfit's self-titled debut, which came out late last year following an earlier split EP, both halves of the operation inch a little closer toward the other's domain, with Devine roughing up his thoughtful ruminations on urban living and the Manchesters adding some introspective delicacy to their basement-show blare. It's uniformly good stuff. This headlining date is one of two Bad Books have scheduled before the Georgians return to their principal concern in advance of their upcoming studio disc, due out this spring. (Mikael Wood)
ADLER'S APPETITE AT WHISKY-A-GO-GO
Built around former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler, Adler's Appetite has seen more cock rockers (including ex-members of Faster Pussycat, Love/Hate and Ratt) come and go than the Rainbow's restroom, and the public bitching among them sometimes reads like a teenage Twitter feud. The current lineup includes übertalented ex–Enuff Z'Nuff bassist Chip Z'Nuff, Quiet Riot axman Alex Grossi, former Tuff guy Michael Thomas and appropriately Axl Rose–ish Canadian crooner Rick Stitch. Expect this lively fivesome to deliver a complete, convincing rendition of GNR's genre-changing 1987 Appetite for Destruction plus solid, sleazy originals from AA's debut album, due later this year. To many, Adler's Appetite sounds more like Guns N' Roses than the bastardized band of that name currently treading the boards and getting paychecks from Ol' Red Cornrows. With the Whisky being glam ground zero, don't be surprised if some heavyweight hair-metal heroes drop in to complete this time-warp treat. (Paul Rogers)
AURELIO AT THE GETTY CENTER
Sub Pop Records often is recognized for releasing early discs by such grunge bands as Mudhoney and Nirvana and more recent indie rockers like the Postal Service and the Shins, but in recent years the Seattle label has expanded its focus to encompass the more adventurous world-music sounds by Bassekou Kouyate. The Honduran performer Aurelio Martinez's new Sub Pop album, Laru Beya, continues the label's tradition of experimentation as the singer-guitarist explores his Garifuna roots, which combine African, Indian and Latin influences into a melancholic yet festive form of yearning soul. Much of the album is shadowed by the death of Andy Palacio, the musician who was most responsible for spreading Garifuna culture to a worldwide audience. For all of the music's celebratory rhythms and sunny vocals, there is also an undercurrent of loss and alienation in immigrant laments like "Tio Sam." The African connection is strengthened with guest appearances by the Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour. Also Sun. (Falling James)
INDIA ADAMS AT CATALINA BAR & GRILL
When the late Cyd Charisse kicked up her heels in the classic musical The Band Wagon, she could be heard singing tunes like "Dancing in the Dark" and "New Sun in the Sky" with a sultry, honeyed voice that only added to the glamorous actor-dancer's charismatic appeal. The problem was, the voice wasn't really hers. Instead, the singing was dubbed by India Adams, who did much the same thing for Joan Crawford in Torch Song. The jazz-pop chanteuse even made light of her behind-the-curtain performances a few years ago when she teamed with fellow dubbers Annette Warren and Betty Wand for a revue cheekily titled "Hollywood's Secret Singing Stars." Tonight the cat's out of the bag, as the veteran stylist purrs such standards as "Easy Street" and "Go to Sleep" with nimbly playful phrasing and a warm, sensuous tone. At this two-night stand, directed by Patricia Herd and helmed by musical director Paul Horner, Adams might even reprise selections from her 1959 debut album, Comfort Me With Apples. Also Sun. (Falling James)
DEKE'S 8th ANNUAL GUITAR GEEK FESTIVAL (F. DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS) AT THE ANAHEIM PLAZA HOTEL
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THE LIFT at Location TBA
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Also playing Saturday: ANDREW BIRD at Largo; OZOKIDS (OZOMATLI DAYTIME KIDS SHOW) at the Echoplex; GOBOTRON at the Troubadour; COLIN L. ORCHESTRA, CSC FUNK BAND, RESIDUAL ECHOES at the Smell; DUDAMEL/MAHLER at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
GRAF ORLOCK, GHOSTLIMB, TOUCHÉ AMORÉ AT THE SMELL
Graf Orlock has a brand-new record out — the Doombox EP. They're four guys from Los Angeles who play really loud grunty, shouty grindcore with samples from blockbuster action movies thrown in. It's sort of like how industrial music used to sample Blade Runner and THX 1138 back in the '90s — it's just another instrument, really, that kind of referentialism, and it works because everyone's seen the same crappy movies by now. Vitriol Records, their record label, also boasts Buena Park crust trio Ghostlimb, merchants of a more personally politicized kind of hardcore, fraught with biblical and medieval references, yet melodic enough to catch the ear of the most jaded bicycling missionary. L.A. post-hardcore quintet Touché Amoré will probably play songs from their brilliantly titled recent full-length, ... To the Beat of a Dead Horse. They have a lot of fun with the genre, in which they find themselves working currently as artists, and lead ranter Jeremy Bolm just looks incredibly happy onstage — a lightness of heart you don't generally see at hardcore shows. (David Cotner)
Also playing Sunday: AURELIO at the Getty Center; INDIA ADAMS at Catalina Bar & Grill.
SCREAMING FEMALES AT THE ECHOPLEX
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Also playing Monday: GREAT NORTHERN, THE PIECES at Bardot; THE FLING, BELL BRIGADE, FRANCISCO THE MAN, OBI BEST at the Satellite.
TOBACCO, ROYAL BANGS, NADASTROM AT THE ECHOPLEX
Tobacco had a terrific 2010. The former Black Moth Super Rainbow mastermind solidified his solo artist status with an album that took his old swampy psychedelic sounds and strapped them to a solid beat. Fuzzy live bass lines, analog synthesizers and ancient drum machines make up the seedy, seething underbelly of the beast that is his second record, Maniac Meat. What's more, the dude discovered his singing voice — a creepy Vocoder-ed coo that whispers about licking witches and burning shit. Plus, Beck made a glorious double-headed return to form by rapping on Tobacco's "Fresh Hex" and crooning on "Grape Aerosmith," and then Tobacco closed the year with the EP LA UTI, which wrangled a bunch of rappers to spit over his tracks. But it wasn't the guest verses from Anti-Pop Consortium, Doseone, Serengeti or Rob Sonic that positioned Tobacco for a heap of "Best of 2010" nods. It was the acid-fried auteur's own cracked vision and creepy aesthetic that did the trick. Catch him on this victory lap. (Chris Martins)
HAROULA ROSE AT HOTEL CAFÉ
Chicago-bred, L.A.-based singer-songwriter Haroula Rose's self-released These Open Roads is a deceptively easy-on-the-ears debut that launches Rose as a triple threat: a deft and resourceful melodicist, a subtly superb acoustic guitar crafter and a distinctly winsome vocal presence. Hers are timeless tales of loneliness and bad breakups — goodbye to the past and what does the future hold? — and while this particular palette of fear, cheers and sneers of course could be a shopworn recipe for maudlin moping in lesser hands, in hers it's used as an opportunity to revel in the fascination of creation. The album's comforting though intriguingly troubling originals (and a bewitching version of Mason Jennings' "Duluth") are painted in evocative tones by a sterling cast of steel guitar players, harmonizing singers and multi-instrumentalist/producer Andy Lemaster. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday: TAPE DECK MOUNTAIN, EVAN VOYTAS, HANDS at Silverlake Lounge.
BETONTANC, UMKA.LV WITH SILENCE AT REDCAT
Slovenia's theater-dance ensemble Betontanc ("Concrete Dance") gathers musicians, dancers, actors and costume and stage designers together in darkly humorous (and psychologically searing) conceptual works that forgo the tedious verbal spew of trad performance art to focus on the sheer physicality of the human body. Betontanc's creations are charming, strange, scary and itchily amusing. Tonight's performance of the inspiringly low-tech Show Your Face! features dancers collaborating with the Latvian "object-theater" (puppeteering) crew UMKA.LV and Slovenian electronic/other soundscapists Silence. The aggregated artists enact the odyssey of Little Branko, an empty snowsuit — a "faceless Everyman" — who comes to life and confronts the craggy, tangled, bleak and hopeless past and future of the 20th century. Synergistic power accrues in this work, a large part of whose touching effect owes to the piano/toy-synth/vibes/voice score by Silence, written in collaboration with Latvian musician Ugis Vitins. Runs Jan. 19-23. (John Payne)
DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL, CHRIS CONLEY, LADY DANVILLE, JOHN LEFTER AT THE TROUBADOUR
"Don't knock it until you've tried it!" holds surprisingly true for a Dashboard Confessional gig. There's a reason the Boca Raton, Fla., emo kings are doing three nights in a row, and that reason is predominantly the intense magnetism of singer Chris Carrabba. He's handsomely coiffed and can hold one helluva note, and when he opens his mouth, he sings with a chorus of eternally angsty lovelorn youth backing him (that last bit isn't meant metaphorically). Every single song at a Dashboard show is an opportunity for a sing-along, and everyone in the audience knows every word. Creepily cultish? Yes, but Carrabba and his bandmates reciprocate with pitch-perfect playing, intimate moments and odd keepsakes (e.g., an egg shaker engraved with a download code for the set). The fact that this tour is in honor of the 10th anniversary of Swiss Army Romance, Dashboard's beloved breakthrough, makes it the one to see. Just be sure to bring your own Kool-Aid. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday: FOSTER THE PEOPLE at the Echo.
ABE VIGODA, LORD HURON WITH THE CALDER QUARTET, GAMBLE HOUSE AT THE AUTRY
If No Age is the superstar act of the Smell scene and Mika Miko represents the greatness that almost was, then Abe Vigoda is the hardworking band of bootstrap-pullers, ever grinding in the background to ensure their own longevity. Their 2010 album, Crush, is their fourth, and it finds the four-piece pushing its previously pigeonholed sound ("tropical punk," which they were damn good at) into new domains — namely the cold-wave spheres that singer Michael Vidal dipped into whenever he let his voice quaver and drop an octave. Expect things to be tightly wound but also sprawling. Local up-and-comer Lord Huron also will be spreading out, though more physically, as it's expanding its membership to include esteemed string players the Calder Quartet. The band's beachy loping Western-tinged pop should sound excellent emanating from the Autry's courtyard. Opener Gamble House will be a treat, too — the young L.A. outfit sounds a lot like Grizzly Bear, which is never a bad thing. (Chris Martins)
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NIGHT HORSE AT THE ECHO
Night Horse escape L.A.'s soulless strip malls, cheeseball clubs and douchebag materialism with musical trips to a musty mid-1970s roadhouse where brawls are taken out back and early Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Allman Brothers own the jukebox. This is quality electric boogie blues that at its best ("Good Bye Gone") evokes the desperate desert rawk of Deliverance-era Corrosion of Conformity, and even at its worst ("Rollin' On") at least serves plenty of meat with its potatoes. Night Horse's conversing guitars and deceptively slinky grooves would be little more than a vehicle for vintage gear without the wonderfully grained, patchouli-stained vocals of ex-Bluebird frontman Sam James Velde (his swagger, though, makes up for his sometimes clichéd lyrics and histrionics). (Paul Rogers)
NIKKA COSTA AT THE ROXY
Nikka Costa ruffled more than a few feathers with the single off her upcoming album, PRO*WHOA!, "Ching Ching Ching." Sounding more like a Paris Hilton cut (complete with a "hot-hot-hot-hot-hot" refrain), the song's a major departure from the slinky brand of soul Costa became known for back with 2001's Everybody Got Their Something and hits "Like a Feather" and the title track. But having been in the business since she was old enough to walk (her father, producer Don Costa, is the legendary arranger for Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra), Nikka is a smart cookie: On a closer listen, the chorus repeats, "We're gonna make history/revolutionary mediocrity." PRO*WHOA! does migrate into poppier territory, but her voice, breathy on the Prince-inspired "Head First" and throaty on the electro-rock "Nylons in a Rip," is expressive enough to rise above radio bubble gum and reassure her fan base. (Rebecca Haithcoat)