Music Picks: Ooh La La Fest, Pavement, Beach House
Rx BANDITS AT THE TROUBADOUR
Those who've experienced them in person know that Seal Beach's Rx Bandits are one of the most rip-roaring, fantastically furious live bands on the planet. Chalk it up to their early days as horn-blazing ska-punk revivalists, a phase they've grown through quite gracefully. Though they were once part of the Drive-Thru Records stable, RxB always displayed an ear for the avant-garde, and time has proven them to be as prog(ressive) as the Mars Volta, though well grounded in deep dub riddims and punk-pop emotiveness (the latter needed to effectively deliver singer Matt Embree's political treatises). The band's last three albums — The Resignation (2003), And the Battle Begun (2006) and Mandala (2009) — show a veteran live act finally realizing its on-record potential, even as its membership dropped from six to a hornless four. Now, over the course of three evenings, the band completes the circle by performing each album in its entirety (on respective nights). Three-night passes sold out almost immediately — a testament to what's in store for those yet to be baptized by the Bandits. (Chris Martins)
CROM, EARTHLESS, BASTARD, LSDJ'S AT SPACELAND
Metallic heaven comes in many shades of hell. San Diego's veteran drone-metal artistes Earthless, whose pummeling hypnosis draws on minimalist Krautrock motorik and multimovement epicry, offer an intense visual focus in the multilimbed mayhem of human octopus drummer Mario Rubalcaba. Crom (not to be confused with the German epic metal band of the same name) offers a witty, L.A. grindcore-'n'-more mishmash of death/speed/thrash/sludge. They bring the kinda prog-oriented techie thrills, lotta breaks into double- and triple-time awesomeness and plenty cookie-monster vocals from frighteningly determined and grim hooded figures who impress as much with their ultraviolent sonic spew as with their good humor about it all. Also: Iceland's death/black/extreme punishers Bastard and the bad-trippin' boombastics of the LSDJ's. (John Payne)
WILLIE NELSON & FAMILY, RYAN BINGHAM & THE DEAD HORSES AT THE GREEK THEATRE
Willie Nelson has been releasing records like a man half (maybe even a third!) his age lately, and virtually all of them have staked out their own little plot of distinct stylistic turf. Countryman, from 2005? Reggae. American Classic, from last year? Standards. This spring's T Bone Burnett–produced Country Music? Well, you can probably figure that one out. Even as he's demonstrated his range, though, Nelson has really only driven home the point that he sounds, above all, like Nelson; his is a voice that belongs up there (if not in power, then in familiarity) with Sinatra's and Aretha's. At the Greek he's slated to take the stage as Willie Nelson & Family, which we understand will include at least his son Lukas. There's no telling who else might show up. Ryan Bingham, a recent Academy Award winner for his and Burnett's theme from Crazy Heart, opens in support of his straight-talking new Junky Star. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Friday: WAR at Fairplex; BOWZER'S ROCK & ROLL PARTY at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts; RATATAT at Fox Theater Pomona; THE GHOST OF A SABER TOOTH TIGER at Hollywood Forever Cemetery; RANCID, ADOLESCENTS, THELONIOUS MONSTER at the Music Box; DIRTY PROJECTORS at the Wiltern; SPIRIT VINE at Five Stars Bar; DUNGEN at Pappy & Harriet's Palace; SUPAGROUP, ANGUS KHAN at Three Clubs; THE DAVE LIEBMAN NY QUARTET at Vitello's.
WAVED OUT II AT THE ECHO & ECHOPLEX
While so many festival promoters appear to obsess over offering something for everyone down to the last microgenre, the music lovers behind Waved Out go straight for the goods: psych rock, garage rock, folk rock, rock rock — the various hues of American guitar music, with a few twists within reason. Like headliner Dungen, the Swedish psychedelic giants whose latest album, Skit i Allt (that's "Fuck it all" in Sverige), is rich with Hendrixian guitar work, Pink Floyd–like spaceyness and bizarre jazz chords. But many of the bands playing the two-venue, all-day extravaganza hail from the Left Coast, from L.A. prog power trio the Entrance Band, to tropically tinged locals Lord Huron, to San Francisco malt-shop rocker Hanni El Khatib and his neighbors in the hazy, dazed Young Prisms. Brooklyn's Sharon Van Etten is sure to be a highlight as well, with her warm, often electric, Vashti Bunyan–inspired folk. Expect comedians and food trucks as well, all thanks to the locally based Aquarium Drunkard blog. (Chris Martins)
EPICENTER TWENTY TEN AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
This rap-and-rock festival debuted last summer at Pomona's Fairplex; this weekend Epicenter returns in a two-day edition at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway (behold: growth in the music industry!). Eminem and Kiss share headlining duties Saturday night, and while the glam-rock gods are sure to entertain, don't be surprised if they're outdone by Detroit's finest, who's riding high on what may turn out to be the year's biggest-selling record (not to mention a series of reportedly mind-blowing stadium gigs with Jay-Z). Blink-182 and Rise Against top Sunday's somewhat lower-wattage lineup, though punk fans should arrive early for a solid undercard that includes Bad Religion and Against Me! Hip-hop heads are advised to show up Saturday for an appearance by Big Boi of OutKast; his recently released solo debut won't rack up Eminem-style sales, but it could be the year's best rap album. With Bush, Papa Roach, Suicidal Tendencies, Biffy Clyro and others. Also Sunday. (Mikael Wood)
FRANKIE ROSE AND THE OUTS AT THE SMELL
Frankie Rose has spent time over the past few years in an impressive number of buzzed-about indie-pop bands, including Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Southern California's own Dum Dum Girls. But Frankie Rose and the Outs is the Brooklyn-based singer-
guitarist-drummer's current gig, as well as the one in which she steers the ship. Anyone fond of those other acts' fuzzy post-C86 moves is sure to dig the band's self-titled debut, which came out earlier this week on Slumberland. It's fair to say that titles such as "Candy," "Little Brown Haired Girls" and "Girlfriend Island" provide a pretty accurate picture of what you're in for here. But Rose also goes a little dreamier as frontwoman than she did behind her kit, with hooks that sound like they've been stretched out toward some imaginary horizon. With San Francisco's delightfully garage-rocking Hunx and His Punx. Also at the Echo, Sunday. (Mikael Wood)
JON LANGFORD & SKULLORCHARD AT McCABE'S
The Welsh expatriate and longtime Chicago resident Jon Langford surveys the state of the world — both real and imagined — on his latest solo album, Old Devils (Bloodshot Records). "Laws of metaphysics are bending/To produce a happy ending," he declares hopefully on the ballad "Book of Your Life," but by the very next track, the jangly pop-rock tune "Getting Used to Uselessness," the leftist singer-guitarist is already drinking from "the cup of bitterness, where's the sin in that?" Langford got his start in the late-'70s Leeds punk band the Mekons and the post-punk side project the Three Johns, before moving to the States and branching out with various alt-country outfits, including the Waco Brothers and Pine Valley Cosmonauts, as well as disparate collaborations with Kevin Coyne, Rosie Flores, Alejandro Escovedo and Richard Buckner. Old Devils draws upon Langford's numerous personas, from the rootsy burn of "Self Portrait" and the British pub rock of "1234 Ever" to the acoustic country-folk idyll "Luxury" and the swirling West Indies exotica of "Pieces of the Past," a sordidly unromantic pirates' tale that's highlighted by a foreboding guest voice-over by R&B-soul icon Andre Williams. (Falling James)
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON AT THE CERRITOS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
"A long time ago, I met a beautiful young woman in an elevator in New York City. I used to bump into her at about 3 in the morning, every night. After a while I gathered up my courage and I said to her, 'Are you looking for something?' And she said, 'Yes, I'm looking for something.' I knew by the tone of her voice that she wasn't trying to realize some unfulfilled potential of her inner nature but she was actually looking for something. I said, 'Who or what are you looking for?' She said, 'Kris Kristofferson.' I said, 'I am Kris Kristofferson.' And I deceived her for many nights." —Leonard Cohen, introducing "Chelsea Hotel #2" in 1985. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Saturday: Rx BANDITS at the Troubadour (see above); BAND OF HORSES, ADMIRAL RADLEY, DARKER MY LOVE at the Greek; '70s SOUL JAM at Fairplex; JERRY LEE LEWIS, REVEREND HORTON HEAT, THE HEAD CAT at the Fox Theater Pomona; RANCID, ADOLESCENTS, TELECASTER at the Music Box; MUSE, PASSION PIT at Staples Center; X JAPAN at the Wiltern; FLIPSIDE 2010 at American Legion Post 206; SARA RADLE, GOLDENBOY at Casey's Irish Pub; EARTHLINGS?, SWEETHEAD at Pappy & Harriet's Palace; GILBY CLARKE at the Whisky A Go-Go; THE CHARLES LLOYD NEW QUARTET at the Nate Holding Performing Arts Center; THE DAVE LIEBMAN NY QUARTET at Vitello's.
BEACH HOUSE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Guitarist/keyboardist Alex Scally and chanteuse Victoria Legrand are from Baltimore, and they call themselves Beach House. The classically trained duo's eponymous first album and its follow-up, Devotion, offered a rather ethereal dream-pop. Flowing with hazy sprawls of warm synth chordage and slide guitars curling around Legrand's languid alto, the duo zeroed in on a nostalgia-soaked, somewhat awkward tranquility that held a tension ready to snap. On their just-out Teen Dream (Sub Pop), conceived and recorded in a converted church in upstate New York, the duo up the urgency a tad, using their blessedly spare surface of pretty guitar leads and cascading (and indecipherable) vocal textures to further prod us toward that longing for a lost time, a lost love, or for something that never existed at all, and might never. There's a paradoxically comforting glow to it all, like the crackle of a bonfire. (Also playing, a certain preppie band from NYC.) (John Payne)
NEIL HAMBURGER AT SPACELAND
See Go LA. Also get the anticomedian's new Drag City CD Hot February Night — great road-trip entertainment. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Sunday: Rx BANDITS at the Troubadour (see above); JON LANGFORD at Amoeba; HAPPY TOGETHER TOUR WITH THE TURTLES et al. at the Fairplex; SEAL, DAVID FOSTER at the Grammy Museum
THE BLACK KEYS, NICOLE ATKINS AT THE HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
The Akron, Ohio, duo the Black Keys are heavily influenced by the blues and late-'60s power trios, but they transmogrify such inspirations with an approach that manages to be fresh and vital instead of nostalgic and stultifying. In recent years, they've moved beyond the bluesy formalism of their early releases into a more experimental and wider-ranging style, thanks in part to collaborations with producer Danger Mouse and such rappers as Raekwon, RZA and Mos Def. Songs like "Tighten Up" and "Next Girl," from the Black Keys' latest album, Brothers, are distinguished by singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach's woeful lamentations and heavy riffing and drummer Patrick Carney's primal grooves, with newfound traces of trippy pop slipping between the cracks. Interestingly, they're billed with the talented New Jersey chanteuse Nicole Atkins, who's more of a pure pop songwriter in the Brill Building tradition on her debut CD, Neptune City. Atkins has a soaring, dreamy voice that evokes Cass Elliot, and she imbues her lush balladry with a spectral glow that's simultaneously candied and haunting. Along with her own sophisticated originals, she weaves some genuine magic with unusual covers, such as the Church's "Under the Milky Way" and the Doors' "The Crystal Ship." Also Tuesday. (Falling James)
BETTYE LAVETTE AT LARGO
The recently reappraised '60s-soul vet earned loads of fresh acclaim earlier this year with Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, on which she offered up slow-and-low R&B renditions of such dad-friendly U.K. jams as Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed," Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and Led Zeppelin's "All My Love." (Related: She just completed a brief run of American shows with Robert Plant.) Now LaVette is set to reinterpret her reinterpretations over two intimate nights at Largo, where she'll be accompanied only by pianist Brian O'Rourke. Expect a letup in the funk factor but not in emotional intensity: LaVette's specialty these days is breaking down a text to its skin-and-bones essentials, then demonstrating how universal a truth it can be. Also Tuesday. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Monday: MUSE, PASSION PIT at Staples Center.
NEVERMORE AT KEY CLUB
Nevermore are gloriously fashion-oblivious metal technicians who, with their new (and
seventh) album, The Obsidian Conspiracy, suggest that song craft and shredding can indeed co-exist. Most of their tunes begin with a traditional post-thrash concoction of almost symphonic fizzy guitars and gurgling bass punctuated with rivet-gun kick drums. But once Warrel Dane's multiple-personality, Middle Earth vocals weigh in, they become progressive, thoughtful things that — in spirit at least — are as much heroic Iron Maiden as mean-spirited Megadeth. The fearsome Seattle foursome (a five-piece onstage) indulge in Queensrÿchian conceptual/conspiratorial lyrics while exploring tempos and colors with an abandon that's kept them interesting for nearly two decades. Despite the lengthy gap since Nevermore's previous studio collection, Conspiracy is a relatively straightforward marriage of frantically precise heads-down grooves, soaring suboperatic hooks and Herculean harmonies. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Tuesday: PERFUME GENIUS at Hollywood Forever Cemetery; SARA BAREILLES, GREG LASWELL at the Orpheum; BETTYE LAVETTE at Largo
DUKES OF SEPTEMBER RHYTHM REVUE AT THE GREEK THEATRE
Ladies and gentlemen, the world's first all-terrain yacht is rolling into Griffith Park with plans to unload its precious contents onto the Greek stage. OK, so maybe S.S. Blue Eyes doesn't exist, but it'd be the perfect prop for this knockout white-soul extravaganza. Dukes of September is the rather odd name for the vocal power trio that is Boz Scaggs, Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald. (What, "the Steel Doobie Band" was taken?) Naturally they'll have a knockout backing band as well, as they work their way through a set composed of not only their own considerable bag of hits — we hear "Lowdown," "Peg" and "What a Fool Believes" are on the menu — but an incredible array of covers as well. Fagen recently told Rolling Stone, "The idea was to play music that we all liked when we were kids," so it should come as no surprise that the playlist is heavy on Stax and Motown classics. (Chris Martins)
DEAKIN, FENNESZ, PRINCE RAMA AT EAGLE ROCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Yeah, yeah, Deakin is the totally awesome dude from Animal Collective and he's a beast on the guitar-pedals-soundboard-vocals setup, as well as an ace remixer who's given Ratatat, Phoenix and Goldfrapp the tripped-out beat treatment. And Prince Rama is a currently buzzing Brooklyn trio signed to AnCo's Paw Tracks label, featuring a heavily psychedelic sound that owes a bit to the shimmery soundscapes of new age as well as to Eastern chant. That's all well and good, but what makes this a truly momentous occasion is the presence of Christian Fennesz. The Vienna-based guitarist/producer is a legend in ambient, electronic and found-sound circles, and even experienced an unexpected crossover moment with his 2001 Mego Records classic Endless Summer. The title is indeed a reference to the seminal Beach Boys album, and the tunes may well be the experimental musician's version of surf pop. His music is warm enough and breaks upon the ears like waves, but this is the stuff that boundary-pushing popists like Brian Wilson could take notes from. Bow down or be bowled over. (Chris Martins)
SARAH HARMER AT SPACELAND
The Canadian singer Sarah Harmer specializes in gentle pop-folk tunes about romance that are thoughtful and intelligent instead of mawkish and sentimental. The mainstream musical settings on her new CD, Oh Little Fire (Cold Snap/Zoe Records), aren't especially adventurous, but Harmer has a clear, pretty voice that gives her pop valentines an undeniable charm. "I wanna be held captive/Forget the way I acted/It's just I'm out of practice," she confesses invitingly to a lover. "Hold me to this thing, darling/And bring a ladder, we'll climb to the rafters." She convincingly exudes the joy surrounding a new love, but she tends to dig a little deeper on her sadder songs, such as "Late Bloomer," where her expectations and disappointment are efficiently summed up in the couplet "I showed off my heart/Now there's a scar in the shape of a question mark." Harmer first came to attention with the Toronto country-rock combo the Saddletramps and rocked it up a little more in her next band, Weeping Tile, but her solo albums tend to be more introspective and poppy, as she charts subtle romantic details "from the backs of the comets to the little street mice." (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday: ALAN PARSONS at the Grammy Museum; MCCOY TYNER at Catalina Bar & Grill; L.A. OPERA WITH PLACIDO DOMINGO at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
JOHN CALE AT ROYCE HALL
L.A. Weekly columnist (and music "Fanatic!") Henry Rollins told us the other day that he's "never seen a bad John Cale show." We agree, and that's saying a lot given that Cale has been playing in public since his teens, first as an avant-garde classical music prodigy, then as a member of the most legendary (almost hallowed in most circles) lineup of the Velvet Underground, and for more than 40 years as an eccentric, always-surprising solo artist. He's done it all (see the Go LA pick for more details) and he's always been younger and cooler than you'll ever be. (You're wearing Betsey Johnson? Cale eloped with Betsey Johnson — in 1968!) Lou Reed might have recorded Transformer, but his old sparring partner keeps living his life like an endless Canto to Mutability. He might be playing all of Paris, 1919, but it's always the most fervent version of the present in Cale land. Go. (Gustavo Turner)
PAVEMENT, SONIC YOUTH, NO AGE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Tonight's big show at the Bowl is sort of a Monsters of Alterna-Rock spectacle, headlined by the influential Stockton band Pavement, who reunited earlier this year for the first time in a decade. The group's impact has grown exponentially in the years since the breakup, but when they began in 1989, the combination of Scott Kannberg's angular, droning guitar parts and Stephen Malkmus' elliptically surreal lyrics was quite unusual, launching a horde of sarcastic lo-fi indie-rock imitators. Pavement have a strong connection to the middle-billed Sonic Youth, whose bassist, Kim Gordon, has performed in the art-punk side project Free Kitten with Pavement bassist Mark Ibold. While Sonic Youth these days are much mellower and more melodic than in their early-'80s heyday, when their massively towering riffs were rivaled only by the early Swans' noisy, doom-ridden dirges, they're still capable of some intermittently fascinating soundscapes, especially on the songs where Gordon's coolly somber vocals are contrasted by Lee Ranaldo's and Thurston Moore's tangled antirock guitars. Don't miss L.A.'s own weirdo-rippers No Age (see Music feature), whose opening set should recall the more adventurous beginnings of the two bigger bands. (Falling James)
OOH LA LA FEST WITHSEBASTIEN TELLIER,TURZI,ACID WASHED, KAVINSKYAT EL REY THEATRE
The cliché about France is that it's long been incapable of producing Great Rock Music such as the Americans or Brits can do like second nature, and that's maybe owing to the French language itself — too soft, some say, too
nuanced. For its second annual event in L.A., the Ooh La LA fest presents a very hard-hitting and musically varied assemblage of the best new Francophonia, and here's hoping our assumptions shall be utterly crushed. The Record Makers label's 10th-birthday bash at El Rey features American Apparel–approved dance-pop provocateur Sébastien Tellier, new-wavey retro stylists Nouvelle Vague, disco freaks Acid Washed, electro-house DJ mania from Kavinsky and the wicked electro-Krautrock (Frankrock?) sounds of Turzi. The festival also brings sets by the Bewitched, Revolver and Hands on the Top of our Heads at Spaceland on Friday, Oct. 1; and General Elektriks, El Hijo de la Cumbia and the mighty electro-tangueros Gotan Project at Club Nokia on Saturday, Oct. 2. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday: JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION at the Troubadour (see Music feature); ALICE COOPER, ROB ZOMBIE, MURDERDOLLS at Gibson Amphitheatre; TRAIN, NEED TO BREATHE at the Greek Theatre; SPOON, COLD CAVE at Hollywood Palladium; HELLRIDE at Air Conditioned Lounge; HIGH ON FIRE, TORCHE, KYLESA at the Glass House; ATARI TEENAGE RIOT at Key Club; MCCOY TYNER at Catalina Bar & Grill.
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