Music Picks: Katy Perry, Phish, Deerhunter, Sia, Warped Tour
Naked Aggression, All or Nothing H.C., Union 13
Hardcore punk rock has a reputation for inspiring mayhem and wanton destruction, but the bands on tonight's bill are motivated by loftier concerns, such as saving the world. Of course, the social activism and politically charged lyrics espoused by these groups are delivered with relentless brutality and superfast tempos, but the overall message is one of unity, not violence. On the Rag editrix and All or Nothing H.C. frontwoman Renae Bryant comes at punk rock from a fiercely feminist, vegan and pacifist perspective, and she passionately decries anti-immigrant tea partiers ("Line in the Sand"), gives a shout-out to her hero Jack Kevorkian ("Death With Dignity") and offers hope for suicidal cutters ("Control the Inside Out") on Bring Me the Head of ..., the Norco band's new split CD with Naked Aggression. Led by singer Kirsten Ellis, the similarly intense Naked Aggression rail about corporate oppression and the widening class divide, while Boyle Heights' Union 13 confront racism and youthful alienation with astonishing speed and power. —Falling James
Katy Perry, Robyn
@Cal State Dominguez Hills* (1000 E Victoria St. Carson, CA) *11am-9pm
We like our pop-star personas complex, from Britney's schoolgirl-becomes–psychotic mom transformation to anything Gaga will ever do. So, while few could have predicted the wild success of Katy Perry — a Warped Tour veteran who first got us titillated by proclaiming her affection for female tongue-swapping, and who also openly discusses her nose picking and farts — it's hardly a surprise. Yes, her chest gets more love than her chops, but by contrasting artsy ("E.T.") with adolescent ("California Gurls"), the 26-year-old has cleverly positioned herself as equal parts avant garde and garishly girly. Now, with help from her latest single, "T.G.I.F.," Perry will become the first female with five chart-toppers off a single album (2010's Teenage Dream). She's joined by Robyn, the recently rejuvenated Swedish cyborg dance queen who tore up Coachella. Also Sat. and Sun. —Dan Hyman
KIM LENZ at Webers; SUMMER DARLING at the Satellite; DEATH HYMN NUMBER 9, THE SHRINE at Vlad the Retailer; SWEATER GIRLS, SUMMER TWINS at the Smell; ANCESTORS, YOB at Echoplex; SEARCHING FOR ELLIOTT SMITH screening at Bootleg Theater; QUARTETTO FANTASTICO, CHEZ QUARTETTE at Grand Performances; BEN WENDEL, JOHN ESCREET, DAVE ROBAIRE, MARK FERBER at Blue Whale; DAVID BROMBERG at McCabe's; JIMMY EAT WORLD at U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach Pier.
HARD Summer Music Festival
@L.A. STATE HISTORIC PARK
[See Page Two.]
These days, Cypress Hill are most often associated with a cloud of marijuana smoke — not that there's anything wrong with that — but the influential Latino collective are far more than just hip-hop's equivalent to Cheech & Chong. The South Gate group might be looking back with tonight's show, where they'll celebrate their 20th anniversary with a full-length performance of their 1991 self-titled debut album, but they still remain vital. On last year's Rise Up, B-Real cleverly insinuated his distinctively pinched vocals alongside contributions from guest stars Mike Shinoda, Pitbull, Tom Morello and Evidence & the Alchemist, and word on the street is that DJ Muggs is back onboard after sitting out last year's tour. Given the hometown nature of tonight's show, expect more guest stars and the pungent aroma of sacramental, herbal celebration. —Falling James
High Places, Sun Araw
L.A.-via-Brooklyn electronic duo High Places are multi-instrumentalist Rob Barber and vocalist Mary Pearson, two city dwellers who love nature and weave the sounds of the natural world into bass-heavy beats, syncopated rhythms and fragile vocals. Before forming High Places, Pearson was a bassoonist with a deep classical repertoire and Barber was an art instructor at the Pratt Institute, where he taught lithography and etching — highly technical and process-based art forms that have heavily impacted how the band makes music. Together, they make lo-fi, minimal tracks that provide brief escapes from urban claustrophobia. High Places will release their highly anticipated third full-length, Original Colors, in October on Thrill Jockey. —Lainna Fader
Ohio Players, Dazz Band, Mary Jane Girls, Morris Day & the Time
Ain't no party like an old-skool party cuz an old-skool party don't stop — really. With baby-faced rappers doubling back to dip into the canon of '80s rap songs that sampled funky-soled classics, the hits of tonight's groups keep finding new fans. The bill is heavily weighted toward the Midwest, with two of Ohio's finest funk bands, Ohio Players and Dazz Band, and Prince associates the Time, led by wacky wild card Morris Day. As if the night weren't sexy enough (we'll take funk's simmering innuendo over "S&M" any day), L.A.'s own Mary Jane Girls are in the house. Barely legals, go watch your mom and dad show you how to dance all night long. —Rebecca Haithcoat
RADARS TO THE SKY at the Satellite; NEW LOS ANGELES FOLK FESTIVAL at the Smell; YEMEN BLUES, WATCHA CLAN at Grand Performances; DISASTER RADIO, CAPTAIN AHAB at the Smell; TIM LEFEBVRE QUARTET at Blue Whale; SUSAN JAMES at the Mint; ARNOLD MCCULLER at Baked Potato.
Drunk on Crutches
Jen Whittenburg is a down-to-earth singer with an appealing voice and intelligent pop-country tunes on Drunk on Crutches' recent album, People Places Things. "I've been busy striking matches," she declares. "Lord, I wish that I was stoned." She strikes sparks with seemingly simple songs that neatly sum up the complexities of relationships. The Georgia native also is ambivalent about her new hometown in tracks like "California, You'll Have to Wait" and "Using Me Up," where Hollywood's bright lights and sirens keep her up all night. A cover of Neil Young's "L.A." fits seamlessly with the album's themes of dislocation and restlessness. Drunk on Crutches play a free, early-evening set at the Grand Ole Echo's country-roots roundup. —Falling James
JOSE MALDONADO at Echoplex; TORCHE, BIG BUSINESS, THRONES at Troubadour; EXHUMED, CEPHALIC CARNAGE at Key Club; ALL THE APPARATUS at the Mint; HUEY LEWIS at Pacific Amphitheatre.
Though they practically bleed frequent-flier miles, jam-lifers Phish surprisingly haven't touched down in Tinseltown since 2003. (If you don't count their three-day Halloween blowout two years ago in Indio.) Stranger yet, Monday also marks the foursome's first gig at the Bowl. For their grand return, expect the classics. There's no album to promote (Phish makes studio albums?!), but the Vermont noodlers are aiming for new material by year's end. New cuts, for better or worse, are probable. Refilling the "migraine" medicine early this week is advised; local dispensaries are facing an (un)expected shortage on supply. —Dan Hyman
THE SEIZURE, MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY at Pehrspace; ROBERT FRANCIS, PAPA, CAVE COUNTRY at Bootleg Theater.
Upon first listen, Deerhunter's latest effort, Halcyon Digest, sounds like its title: a mellow, slow burn that's better suited for a carefree drive, and a notable departure from the tumultuous shoegaze of their previous three works. But listen closer, and you'll discover a study in empty nostalgia and complicated memories. The band's idyllic '60s-pop beats ring just a little too happy to be honest. On "Basement Scene," frontman Bradford Cox, who struggles with life-threatening complications from Marfan syndrome, sings, "It could be the death of me/Knowing that my friends will not remember me/I wanna get old." Live, their music only gets more haunting and cathartic — heavy doses of reverb, extended outros and Cox's enchanting vocals. Bring tissues. —Andrea Domanick
Armed with his 1713 Stradivarius violin, Bowl Hall of Famer Joshua Bell leads the L.A. Philharmonic in a piece ideally suited for a fresh re-listening under the stars. Vivaldi's The Four Seasons opens the evening with its highly visual depictions of the moods and colors of time's passage and the vagaries of Nature. Bell's virtuosic hands will no doubt give the concertos — ubiquitous staple items in elevators from here to Timbuktu — an intelligently exploratory performance. In his Bowl debut, former Dudamel Conducting Fellow Perry So conducts Tchaikovsky's lushly tenderhearted Serenade for Strings, another popular piece seemingly custom-crafted for enjoyment in wide-open spaces. Also Thurs. —John Payne
The Wallburds, Loch & Key, Black Kettle
The annual International Pop Overthrow festival continues here and at other venues around the Southland, and tonight's lineup is loaded with a diverse variety of musicians working within the loose confines of the power-pop genre. Local trio the Wallburds alternate between smart, not-necessarily-retro pop-rock anthems like "Moments Before Midnight" and such intimate ballads as "Kindergarten Crush." The L.A. duo Loch & Key aren't strictly poppy, although Sean Hoffman used to play bass with the respected Bay Area alt-rockers American Music Club. Leyla Akdogan is an engaging chanteuse on the pair's generally mellow songs, which glide from bossa nova idylls to dreamy balladry. Openers Black Kettle purvey sunny pop songs that are distinguished by cheery, ultrafemme harmonies. With Cannoneers and Ansel. —Falling James
ALLAH LAS, FARMER DAVE, THE TYDE at the Echo.
This Philly-reared R&B songstress is riding high enough right now that she probably could headline the Gibson on her own: June release The Light of the Sun, Scott's first album since 2007, debuted at No. 1, a career best for the singer who's spent much of the past few years pursuing a successful acting career. (She was terrific in HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.) As it happens, Scott hits town with a Budweiser-sponsored package called Jill Scott's Summer Block Party, which includes Anthony Hamilton, the great Southern soul singer with a guest spot on Light of the Sun; Mint Condition, the long-running Minnesota soul-funk group; and DJ Jazzy Jeff, Scott's fellow Philadelphian from back in the day. Doug E. Fresh hosts (and presumably will do the Dougie). —Mikael Wood
Sultry Australian lounge-pop fixture Sia started out singing for Zero 7 and got famous as a solo artist (remember 2006 hit "Breathe Me"?) after multiple appearances on Grey's Anatomy and Six Feet Under soundtracks. She's penned tracks for artists as diverse as Christina Aguilera and Jamiroquai, and her 2008 album, Some People Have Real Problems, peaked in the Top 30 on the Billboard 200. Sia's 2010 international tour in support of her fifth studio album, We Are Born, was called off due to ill health — she later revealed she'd been diagnosed with Graves' disease — but now she's back, hitting the Wiltern on a tour with stops across Australia, the United States and Canada. —Lainna Fader
@CAL STATE DOMINGUEZ HILLS
First the bad news: Although they're playing Warped Tour's San Diego stop on Aug. 9, Paramore — America's best pop-punk band — are not slated to show their pretty little faces here, which is obviously some bullshit. (Hold out hope for the surprise appearance, something of a Warped tradition.) Among the blow-softeners confirmed to play: Black Veil Brides, over-the-top glam-metal dudes from Hollywood; electro-grind goofballs I Set My Friends on Fire; ska-core lifers Less Than Jake; and, perhaps most exciting, Against Me!, more fiery than ever after having been ditched by the major label that (almost) turned them into rock stars. You'll also get Yelawolf, the buzzy Alabama rapper recently signed to Eminem's Shady Records, and Gym Class Heroes, who looked awfully conflicted about appearing on The Voice a while back. 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. —Mikael Wood
Big Audio Dynamite
If you're still bitter about missing Big Audio Dynamite's April reunion gigs at the Roxy and Coachella (ahem), scowl no more — Mick Jones' genre-bending post-Clash project returns to the Southland in top form after months of touring. While the band has known several names and incarnations (Big Audio Dynamite II ... Big Audio ... we see what you did there, Mr. Jones), the reunited B.A.D. features the "classic" lineup that recorded from 1984 to 1990. But don't call it a comeback: The band revealed new songs while on tour in June, and Jones has even spoken of digging up unreleased material co-written with the late Joe Strummer. B.A.D.-ass. —Andrea Domanick
Andy Cabic and crew bring a laid-back soft-rock sound soaked deeply in wise shades of classic folk and '60s rock, softly dappled with the orange glow of the '60s West Coast and, mostly, a whole lotta Poco/Burrito Bros.–style country & roll. As heard on their new Sub Pop album, The Errant Charm, Vetiver are capable of very fine rocking straight-up — indeed, refried boogie, too — but Cabic's heart isn't in blowing us away. He'd rather daydream down by the river. Each Errant tune is a minor variation on another, which gives the album a wholeness that reveals sagely drawn streaks of hazy psychedelia and captivatingly harmonized pop. Glorious melodies to be filed under "Deceptively Pleasant." —John Payne
AN EVENING WITH ROB ZABRECKY at Steve Allen Theater; MAVIS STAPLES at Hollywood Bowl; JOYCE KWON GROUP at Blue Whale.
Producer Brook D'Leau and singer-songwriter Miss Jack Davey are L.A.'s most funkdified fusionists. They create music to make futuristic love to: Bass lines throb with Prince-worthy pulsations while Davey pants lyrics that would not be out of place in one of the Purple One's orgasmathons. But anticipate nothing, and expect anything — just as easily, D'Leau might dissolve a thick new-wave synth into a hand-clapping drum machine as Davey sings a sweet ode primed for a Molly Ringwald dance. Their loyal legion of fans, the J*DaVeY NaVeY, will turn out to see what unpredictable tricks the duo pull out of their very fashionable sleeves, but the jam-packed bill is worthy as well. Smokey-voiced singer Nikko Gray toys with torch songs, while the trio Pollyn shoot an Afro-poppy beat right into space. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux pumps out her beat-heavy songs today at a free concert in the park. Much like her homeland, the singer has undergone many changes over the years. She was raised in France while her parents were exiled from Chile during the years that Augusto Pinochet was in power. When she relocated to Chile, she got wrapped up in Santiago's growing hip-hop scene and ended up fronting the popular, late-1990s group Makiza and collaborating with Mexican alt-pop diva Julieta Venegas. After leaving Makiza, Tijoux eventually went solo, releasing the album 1977 last year and crafting a form of rap that was personal and humanistic instead of vain and boastful. Although she used to rap in French, these days she primarily chants her lyrics in Spanish. —Falling James
CHRISTINA PERRI, HONEYHONEY, SARAH AULT at Troubadour; LA FONT, TERRAPLANE SUN at the Echo; NOAH LIT, MEGAFAUNA, MARCUS VERY ORDINARY at Pershing Square; PAJAMA CLUB (NEIL FINN) at the Roxy; DEX ROMWEBER DUO at the Whisky; NURIYA at Skirball; STARFUCKER at El Rey Theatre; NICK MANCINI GROUP at Blue Whale; THE BEAT IS LAW (PULP DOCUMENTARY) screening at Cinefamily.
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