MICHAEL BUBLÉ AT STAPLES CENTER
Crazy Love, the latest from this megapopular Canadian crooner, goes a little heavy on the soft-rock stylings for my taste: "Haven't Met You Yet," a Bublé original in the mold of his 2005 smash "Home," offers sweet with no sour, while an ill-advised cover of the Eagles' "Heartache Tonight" is pure waiting-room Easy Cheese. That said, Bublé remains a hugely appealing interpreter of the standards on which he made his name, bringing a youthful edge to evergreens like "Come Fly With Me" and "I've Got You Under My Skin" without sacrificing the material's grown-up charm (his over-the-top take on "Cry Me a River" is an exception, and a deliciously trashy one). Of course, overly pious defenders of the Great American Songbook may still take issue with the arena-slick spectacle of Bublé's live show. But what other young singer is bringing the Songbook to Staples right now? (Mikael Wood)
LOS TRES AT HONDA CENTER
Late last year the Mexican pop superstar Alejandro Fernández released a double album called Dos Mundos, on which he offered one set of sleekly produced pop songs and another of traditional (if also rather sleekly produced) ranchera music ("Two Worlds" — get it?). That's more or less the idea behind Los Tres Tour, which features Fernández (the son of towering icon Vicente Fernández) alongside two slightly older artists who've shown no less of an interest in fusing the local and the global: Joan Sebastian, an old-school balladeer with a prolific songwriting sideline, and Marco Antonio Solis, former front man of Mexico's immensely popular Los Bukis. Individual performances from each of the three will be on the docket, but onstage collaborations are promised as well. Also Sat. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Friday: THE MELODIANS at Saint Rocke; OPETH at the Wiltern; VERY BE CAREFUL at Escape Room at Montecristo; WARREN G., J. J. & ALEX LOVE at Air Conditioned Lounge; TERRY REID at McCabe's; KNUX, NOCANDO, 5 O'CLOCK SHADOWBOXERS, HOLLOYS at Spaceland; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Disney Hall; SPIRIT ANIMAL, GRAY KID at the Echo; CAN OF JAM at House of Blues; ANDREW W.K. at the Key Club; OWL CITY at Club Nokia; GOLDENBOY at 14 below; JACK SHELDON at Cafe 322; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo at the Coronet; EDIE SEDGWICK, FORMER GHOSTS, TEARIST, FANTASTICA BASTIDAS at the Smell; SLIM JIM PHANTOM at Weber's Place; BROTHER SAL, TRUTH & SALVAGE CO. at the Hotel Cafe; LOS STRAIGHTJACKETS at the Galaxy Theatre; NIKKA COSTA at the Roxy; EDDIE MONEY at the Canyon; UNDGROUND at the Echo.
LIARS AT EL REY THEATRE
Liars' new Sisterworld reflects the bizarro art-punk trio's move to Los Angeles following stints in Brooklyn and Berlin, and it's not necessarily a picture-perfect postcard of our complicated city: As Liz Ohanesian reported in these pages last month, front man Angus Andrew came up with much of the album's material while living above a La Brea Avenue weed dispensary whose oft-unsavory clientele led him to declare L.A. "one of the scariest places I've ever lived." On Sisterworld, Andrew and his bandmates surround their pummeling rock riffs with lots of eerie post-Eno atmosphere, but onstage Liars tend to emphasize their music's brute force; the front man does a pretty convincing Iggy Pop impression as well. With local electro-rock act Fol Chen, two members of which are currently playing as part of the Liars live band. (Mikael Wood)
SAINT MOTEL AT THE ECHOPLEX
Much like the fringes of religion and UFOlogy, pop music is fraught with "second comings" (Stone Roses albums notwithstanding). So how will you prepare for the indie-pop rapture proposed by Saint Motel? Their latest manifestation involves something called "World Contact Day" — a continuation of efforts 57 years ago this month by the International Flying Saucer Bureau to telepathically contact outer-space visitors. The contact, so they say, was unsuccessful (or was it? How else do you explain Lady Gaga — or Riskay's alien-busting anthem, "Smell Yo Dick"?). Ultimately, Saint Motel will attempt the impossible: to make the audience sit still long enough in the face of its hook-laden pop ecstasies to think about anything else in the first place. Call it an elite and you'd be right. Also: Mississippi Man, Pity Party, Voxhaul Broadcast. (David Cotner)
Also playing Saturday: PATTY GRIFFIN & BUDDY MILLER at the Wiltern; VERY BE CAREFUL at Alex's Bar; ADAM GREEN, THE DEAD TREES at the Troubadour; BAD RELIGION at the House of BLues; ADLER'S APPETITE, LOGAN'S HEROES, THE OPERA at the Key Club; SONES DE MEXICO at the Getty Villa; GRAM RABBIT at Pappy & Harriet's Place; PITY PARTY, VOXHAUL BROADCAST at Echo; 60 WATT KID, DIRT DRESS, SPECULATOR, TAN DOLLAR at Synchronicity Space; CHRISTOPH BULL playing organ to Hitchcock's The Lodger at UCLA; VOICES OF FAITH & HOPE BEYOND PRISON WALLS at the Holy Family Bookstore; SLOUGH FEG, BIBLE OF THE DEVIL, PROFESSOR, GREEN & WOOD at Spaceland; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Disney Hall; LA OPERA at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; "CURIO-KE" at the Echo Curio; BEN GIBBARD at Largo at the Coronet; FUNKY SOLE at the Echo.
I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. AT THE ECHO
There once was a mighty tribe of young people who walked the planet, determined that peace, justice and universal love were utopian ideals the human race was capable of achieving. They made up the largest mass bohemian movement in history and they were millions-strong and not going to fail. They were given handles — hippies, freaks, the underground, the counterculture, as well as some that were overtly uncomplimentary. Then one day everyone blinked and the same pricks this tribe railed against were still in charge with no credible opposition. Where did the tribe go? One place you can find 'em is in the band I See Hawks in L.A. (as well as in their audiences). The Hawks are the finest purveyors of visionary and psychedelic country music since the original Flying Burrito Brothers. Singer Rob Waller and guitarist Paul Lacques write songs like "Raised By Hippies," "Humboldt," "Byrd From West Virginia" and "California Country," and these are as good as 21st-century songs get. The Hawks have their finger on the current apocalyptic zeitgeist, but hell, the band's name tells ya they can still see beauty through the smog. Tonight's show initiates the fifth season of the Grand Ole Echo, a free, weekly, all-ages, late-afternoon Sunday series that lasts from April through September, featuring multiple bands, food, DJ Cuz'n Roy spinning George Jones, and indoor/outdoor areas. If you're out on the patio, remember to look up. You just might see a hawk. Also, Wheelhouse and Mars Arizona. (Michael Simmons)
LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE AT WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
A nicely modernist bit of programming brings us the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by Grant Gershon, in an evening of challenging contemporary works by two giants in the vocal-music sphere. One of the first and prime exponents of extended voice technique and interdisciplinary performance, Meredith Monk stews music, movement, imagery and sound to forge fresh ways of synthesizing the very experience of art. Commissioned by the St. Louis Symphony, Monk's recent Weave for 40-voice choir and chamber orchestra (in its West Coast premiere) is, as she describes it, "a continuous, woven form in which layers that seem part of the texture are gradually revealed, take on their own life, and then are modified by the next layer that appears." Spanning the spiritually soothing to the downright nightmarish, Monk's 1996 work Night and selections from her 2008 Songs of Ascension will also be performed, as will Arvo Pärt's sublime Miserere. Show starts at 7 p.m. (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday: "ANOTHER VERSION OF THE TRUTH" (NIN FILM) at the Echoplex; HELLINGS, VICIOUS LICKS, THE FLATS at the Viper Room; THE HOLLOW TREES at McCabe's; IT'S CASUAL, PROGERIA, RUSTY EYE at Dragonfly; NEIL HAMBURGER at Spaceland; GOSPEL BRUNCH at the House of Blues; THE LIVING SISTERS at Amoeba Music; PATT BRITT & THE ALL-STARS at Cat & Fiddle; THE SEQUENCE at the Roxy; MISS KIMMY'S ROCK & ROLL KARAOKE at the Rainbow Bar & Grill; SONES DE MEXICO at the Getty Villa; GRIS-GRIS at La Cita; VINNY GOLIA, KATHY CARBONE at REDCAT.
Playing Monday: CRYSTAL CASTLES at the Echoplex; WALKING SLEEP, UNION LINE, GOLDENBOY at the Echo; STEEL PANTHER at the House of Blues; THE MILES EVANS BAND at Catalina Bar & Grill; SPIN THE BOTTLE at the Roxy; VINNY GOLIA, KATHY CARBONE at REDCAT; GOLDENBOY at 14 below; MARK BALLAS, ARIELLE DOLLINGER, JAMES KENNEY, APARTMENT 28 at the Mint; NUEXPE, THE MONOLATORS, THE SEIZURE at Pehrspace; HELEN STELLAR, THE POSTELLES, THE CONSTELLATIONS at Spaceland.
PiL AT CLUB NOKIA
While it's true that the Sex Pistols killed rock & roll — or, perhaps more accurately, slaughtered the bloated sacred cow known as '70s classic rock — they were ultimately a very traditional band. Despite all of "the filth and the fury" surrounding Johnny Rotten's caustic lyrics about abortion and anarchy, he was usually backed by relatively conventional (albeit thrillingly elemental and juiced-up) music that drew directly from such inspirations as the New York Dolls, the Stooges, Chuck Berry and the Small Faces. When Rotten formed Public Image Ltd. and reinvented himself as John Lydon following the Pistols' breakup in 1978, he finally had a group that could make anti-rock music that was as radical as his lyrics. Although PIL were reportedly influenced by Can and Captain Beefheart, their debut album, 1978's First Issue, didn't really sound like anybody else. As Lydon ranted about the media and organized religion, Jah Wobble's massive dub-reggae bass lines collided with former Clash member Keith Levene's unique clarionlike guitar parts (later lifted by U2's the Edge), creating an impenetrably dark, noisy and terrifying brand of "Death Disco." For this tour, Lydon is reuniting one of PIL's mid-1980s lineups, with ex–Damned guitarist Lu Edmonds (who also plays with the Mekons), drummer Bruce Smith (the Slits, the Pop Group) and bassist Scott Firth. It sounds like a paradox — an aggressively antinostalgic, forward-thinking new-music group deigning to play the old anti-hits again — but perhaps Lydon and his crew will turn this warm-up gig for their upcoming set at Coachella into something more subversive than just a sentimental jaunt down memory lane. (Falling James)
BILL FRISELL AT LARGO AT THE CORONET
Trying to cram Bill Frisell into a musical category can be a difficult job, but an intriguing one. Though generally aligned with the progressive jazz camp, the chameleonic guitarist-composer maneuvers his way around easy genre stamps with a repertory of far-reaching sounds that draw from the fertile ground between avant- and beboppy jazz, the more angular strains of arty rock and the shadowy strands of melody and harmony deriving from American rural music. The often dreamlike effect of Frisell's stuff is a by-product of a subtly radical rethinking, a process best experienced live, where he further ups the ante with innovative use of digital delays and other effects. He also will, if pushed, throw down some simply wicked ax chops. Frisell's intricately textured dynamics are aided tonight by two similarly nuanced players, pianist Jason Moran and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Two sets, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday: ELVIS COSTELLO at the Arlington Theatre (Santa Barbara); DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN at the Glass House; RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR at Spaceland; "MAS EXITOS" at Verdugo Bar; THE BLESSINGS, ALL SEEING EYES at La Cita; BRIGITTE HANDLEY & THE DARK SHADOWS, CHAMPAGNE VELVET, NEON KROSS at the Redwood Bar & Grill, LEE ROY REAMS at the Magic Castle, SERENA RYDER, RYAN STAR at the Troubadour; ANDRIESSEN'S "LA COMMEDIA" at Disney Hall.
MAD PROFESSOR AT THE ECHOPLEX
When Latter-day Dub Savior Mad Professor (aka Guyana-born, London-bred mixologist Neil Fraser) takes the controls at the Dub Club, it'll be a situation ripe with limitless aural possibilities. The good professor's blend of peerless instinct, sheer creativity and innovative cunning enabled him, via his insanely groove-exploiting dozen-album Dub Me Crazy series, to gloriously extend the dub tradition of the '70s. He skillfully collaborated with some of Jamaica's key reggae spearheads (notably U-Roy, Lee "Scratch" Perry and Horace Andy) and managed to cross over from reggae to electro-pop, remixing Massive Attack's second album in its entirety and memorably working over releases by everyone from Sade to the Beastie Boys to Rancid. There's a graceful volatility about Mad Professor's dub, a need for adventure that always leads him through an unusually creative spectrum. That territory — fraught with luxurious atmosphere, exotic coloration and spontaneous blasts of jolting effects — is Mad Professor's exclusive domain. An opportunity to visit there is not to be squandered. (Jonny Whiteside)
LIZ PAPPADEMAS & THE LEVEL AT THE ECHO CURIO
"One of these days I'm going to rewrite your cue cards," Liz Pappademas sings slyly on her upcoming album, Television City. "One of these days I'm going to write for the big leagues." The local singer-pianist and former member of the Austin band Hurts to Purr should be in the big leagues already. Despite its plain title, her 2007 debut album, 11 Songs, was a mesmerizing assortment of passionate ballads that deftly combined Neil Young's gentle introspection with Fiona Apple's forceful piano pop. Even more impressive, Pappademas proved to be a masterful lyricist, playfully invoking Robert Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock and Harry Houdini as she spun dreamily poetic fantasies about soldiers' wives and earthquakes in Loma Prieta. "You'll look like Sean Connery/and I'll get to be all the Bond girls," she promised a lover during "Vacation Romance." After performing solo or with minimal backing for the past few years, Pappademas appears tonight with her new band, the Level, debuting songs from Television City, which she describes as a concept album about a mythical game show called Who's Your Neighbor? (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday: THEM CROOKED VULTURES at Club Nokia; HOLLY GOLIGHTLY & THE BROKEOFFS at Spaceland; NORTEC COLLECTIVE at Bootleg Theater; RUBY SUNS, TORO Y MOI at the Echo; JOHN JASPERSE CO., ICE ENSEMBLE at REDCAT; DELTA NOVE at Alex's Bar; DEATH ANGEL, ARSIS at Roxy; RUN THROUGH THE DESERT, KINGSIZE, ADRENALIN TRAFFIC at the Troubadour; BRAIN DEAD BUREAUCRACY, GAX, ROCKET CHIRCA, BLACK VELVET DELUXE at Good Hurt; CHAMBER MUSIC AT UCLA at Schoenberg Hall; SAINT LOUIS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Disney Hall; MOVING PICTURE SHOW, IMAGINE DRAGONS at Viper Room; "NO CULTURE" at the Echo.
BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
Coming out of the same Toronto coffeehouse scene as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young in the early '60s, Buffy Sainte-Marie was an impressive songwriter from the start, composing several notable tunes — such as the harrowing but beautifully chilling ballad "Codeine" — that were covered by Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Bobby Darin, Gram Parsons and Cher. But she also had a distinctive voice with a mesmerizing vibrato, as she sang fiery, contrarian anthems about Native American identity. Given her musical importance and considering how rarely Sainte-Marie tours, it would be a big event any time the Hawaiian-based singer comes to town. But the fact that she's still creatively thriving makes this more than a nostalgia fest. Her latest album, Running for the Drum (Appleseed Recordings), a transcontinental collaboration with the French musician-producer Chris Birkett, is a fascinating collision of genres and eras, juxtaposing unabashed love songs with politically defiant protest. "Blue Sunday" is a fast-stepping original that authentically evokes early rockabilly, while "No No Keshagesh" sounds like trip-hopping space disco. "Working for the Government" weaves together Sainte-Marie's banshee wails, psychedelic dub bass and traditional tribal chanting into a punk-funk frenzy. The acoustic folk ramble "Little Wheel Spin and Spin" is less elaborately arranged, but it's even more spellbinding. Also at Topanga Community House, Sat., April 17. (Falling James)
DAVID ALLAN COE AT BRIXTON SOUTH BAY
Equal parts rampaging wild man, sensitive/introspective poet and taboo-flouting rebel, country star David Allan Coe is a perpetually fascinating cluster of contradictions. The veteran singer-songwriter — always decked out like an interstellar 25th-century pimp and brandishing his stars-and-bars Flying V like a kill-crazy Hutaree — is as famed for his outrageous bluster (claiming he murdered a fellow inmate during his decade of incarceration, or that a Mormon conversion resulted in nine Mrs. Coes) as he is for his undeniable talent as a writer. Coe is the composer of "Take This Job (and Shove It)," "Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone)" and scores of first-class numbers like "Now I Lay Me Down to Cheat," "Jack Daniel's, if You Please" — not to mention several stunningly vulgar albums of XXX-rated material — and his flexibility, depth and deft employ of metaphor rank him alongside country music's greatest lyricists. A mad-dog, longhaired redneck, sure, but Coe (who can also deliver an intense, showstopping version of Prince's "Purple Rain") is one of the most riveting performers you'll ever encounter. (Jonny Whiteside)
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TAYLOR SWIFT AT STAPLES CENTER
It's kind of a shame that Taylor Swift and John Mayer already recorded a duet ("Half of My Heart," from his recent Battle Studies), because the past few months have provided plenty for the two stars to bond over. Each has been trying to live down a public-relations snafu (her off-key Grammy performance, his off-color Playboy interview) via a dramatic reduction in new-media face time, regarded by many industry pundits as the only way to maintain one's fan base these days. Should be interesting to see if the radio silence extends to Swift's onstage banter. Onstage banter, though, is ditzy American Idol alum Kellie Pickler's specialty; she's way more entertaining between songs than during them. Openers Gloriana are Lady Antebellum minus all the moody bits. Also Fri., April 16. (Mikael Wood)
CAETANO VELOSO AT: See Gustavo Turner's The Beat column.
THE SPECIALS AT CLUB NOKIA: See Music feature.
Also playing Thursday: WE ARE THE WORLD at the Echo; NEBULA, WILLOWZ at Spaceland; WILLY NELSON at the Grove of Anaheim; LADY ANTEBELLUM at the Wiltern; BLACK CHURCH, GHOST TO FALCO, EZRA BUCHLA at Echo Curio; ANDY CLOCKWISE, THE DIRTY DIAMOND, ROCCO DE LUCA, ARCHEOLOGY, PEASANT at the Hotel Cafe; THE WILLOWZ at Spaceland; THE VICTORIANS, THE SECRET 6, THE STEELWELLS at Alex's Bar; THIS CHARMING BAND and "HEROES DEL SILENCIO NIGHT" at EL Cid; BUSHWALLA at Harvelle's; THE DAYLIGHTS, BROTHERS AT SEA, RED LETTER AGENT at the Troubadour; RED CIRCLE UNDERGROUND, THE DEADLIES at the Viper Room; NATURAL VIBRATION, FORTUNATE YOUTH, SEEDLESS at the Roxy.