Rock Picks: 88BoaDrum, Projekt Revolution, Juana Molina
THURSDAY, AUGUST 7
The Faint, Jaguar Love, Shy Child at Henry Fonda Theater
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The Boredoms love you eight days a week.
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The radio makes Mary Weiss cry.
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Sin 34 puckers up.
Here’s a solid triple bill that shouldn’t be missed by anyone wondering if the indie-rock underground has outgrown its love affair with danceable post-punk. The Faint, from Omaha, have a new album out this week called Fasciinatiion, and though it’s the first record the band are releasing on their own (until now they’ve been part of the sprawling Saddle Creek family), the CD doesn’t reveal any big departure from the electro-goth jams they kicked out on Danse Macabre and Wet From Birth. Jaguar Love are a kicky new Portland-based outfit featuring members of Pretty Girls Make Graves and Blood Brothers, both of whom recently called it quits; on their Matador debut, Take Me to the Sea (due on August 19), the Jaguars dial down the basement-show fury of their previous acts and bump up the off-kilter tune sense. New York’s Shy Child play a sort of American version of the nü-rave stuff being churned out by British bands like Klaxons and Does It Offend You, Yeah? Also Fri., Aug. 8. (Mikael Wood)
Oliver Mtukudzi, Rocky Dawuni at the Santa Monica Pier
Why does the Western media focus on the bad news from Africa? In some cases, though, no news may mean good news, even though the lack of coverage remains a sore point. Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s Zimbabwe has been in the headlines as a continental basket case, largely because of the policies of hold-on-to-power-at-all-costs leader Robert Mugabe. For years, Tuku’s subtly intoxicating southern African home brew has offered Zimbabweans a way to unwind and reflect, his gruff-voiced morality tales commenting on personal choices and societal ills. Yet, L.A. resident Rocky Dawuni’s homeland, Ghana, rarely gets any ink or photons, even though it’s a working democracy with a free press, and — despite endemic poverty and problematic corruption — is generally regarded as an African beacon. No stranger to global music fans here, the peripatetic Dawuni has been working with the likes of UNICEF, gigging back home and elsewhere, as well as finishing his long-awaited follow-up to 2005’s Afro-synergistic Book of Changes. Get ready for some good news with this double-thrill bill, which starts at 7 p.m. (Tom Cheyney)
Also playing Thursday:
AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT, RADARS TO THE SKY at El Rey Theatre; BIC RUNGA at Largo; ROLLING BLACKOUTS at Silverlake Lounge; TARA JANE O’NEIL, BOBB BRUNO at the Smell; DARKER MY LOVE, TWEAK BIRD at the Troubadour; PEANUT BUTTER WOLF at Little Temple.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 8
88BoaDrum at La Brea Tar Pits
To a certain subset of the music world, the announcement that Japanese tribal punk band the Boredoms were to perform in L.A. a variation on last year’s “77BoaDrum,” a 77-minute piece written for 77 drummers that commenced at 7:07 p.m. on 07/07/07, came as a relief. Because for those of us unable to attend its only performance in Brooklyn, the past 13 months have been tough; the legend of that day has grown exponentially, and it’s discussed by attendees with a sort of spiritual reverence. It was like the Rapture had happened, and we were the Left Behind. So, phew, salvation is at hand: Now comes “88BoaDrum”: 88 drummers at La Brea Tar Pits performing an 88-minute composition that will commence at 8:08 p.m. on August 8, 2008.
It’s a notion that could only come from the head of main Boredom Yamantaka Eye, who has cut a wide swath through the art and music world over the past quarter century. He founded the Boredoms as a spazz punk band in the mid-’80s, and, along with drummer Yoshimi P-We (who may be best known as the protagonist of the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots), they specialized in split-second bursts of songs. Few lasted longer than a minute.
In the intervening years, though, they’ve stretched to create focused, rhythmic mantras. If before they had schizophrenia, the band now suffers from OCD: They find a groove and obsess over it for fifteen minutes (and in concert, sometimes 45 minutes). As well, recent performances like the one this spring at the Henry Fonda Theater have featured an astounding instrument: a seven-necked guitar that is rolled out on a dolly and stands upright like a sculpture. Each neck has a different tuning, and, as three drummers, a bassist and a guitarist develop a groove on their own instruments, Eye employs drumsticks and mallets to use the guitar-beast as a percussion instrument. He hits the strings like they’re gongs, each clanging and humming with surprising beauty. He’ll apparently be using the instrument during “88BoaDrum.” This is a musical event not to be missed, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. The performance is free, though you must have a ticket to get in. If there are any still available, they’re at Amoeba Music and LACMA. If not, arrive early and get a good spot outside the fence. It’s not like you’re going to have a hard time hearing it. 5801 Wilshire Blvd. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Friday:
THE FAINT, SHY CHILD, ABE VIGODA at Henry Fonda Theater; SOLUCION MORTAL, YAPO at Anarchy Library; POP LEVI at the Echo; PLATINUM PIED PIPERS, MUHSINAH at the Echoplex; YEAR LONG DISASTER, NICO VEGA at House of Blues; PEPPERMINT CREEPS, 45 GRAVE at the Key Club; GO BETTY GO, LAS 15 LETRAS at Safari Sam’s; KÁRIN TATOYAN, SARAH NEGADHARI & THE SAD SOLIDS at Spaceland; INSECT SURFERS at Taix; CARLOS GUITARLOS at the Barn Burner.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 9
Mary Weiss, The Love Me Nots at the Knitting Factory
Remember walking in the sand? Mary Weiss does. She was one of the leaders of the pack of bad girls known as the Shangri-Las, a ’60s band who were tougher and more independent than any of Phil Spector’s girl-group puppets. Their classic tunes were later covered by Aerosmith, the Go-Go’s, Redd Kross and the New York Dolls, and Weiss was the charismatic role model for such future divas as Amy Winehouse and the Detroit Cobras’ Rachel Nagy. When she returned to the spotlight after a very long absence with her excellent 2007 solo CD, Dangerous Game (Norton Records) — which featured the catchy potential hit “Stop and Think It Over” and the all-too-aptly-titled “Cry About the Radio” — she was wise enough to employ the talents of the Reigning Sound and garage-rock auteur Greg Cartwright instead of a typical slick session band. Weiss makes her local solo debut on this opening night of the Mondo Hollywood Festival, headlining a bill that also includes the Love Me Nots, who are one of the few modern garage-rock revivalists whose lust-ridden, keyboard-pumped songs rank with their storied influences. (The coed Phoenix combo even titled their groovy new CD, Detroit, in a nod to their sonic inspirations as well as their ubiquitous Motor City producer, Jim Diamond.) The fest continues Sunday with a rare visit by the Electric Prunes (“I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”) and a horde of rockabilly and garage bands. The whole damn thing gets started early at 2 p.m. (Falling James)
Flosstradamus at the Echo
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Samantha Crain traipses through town.
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Solomon Burke: Everybody needs somebody to love.
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Bigelf cheat their barbers.
Flosstradamus, the DJ duo from Chicago, are classic Vice. Made up of Josh Young, a.k.a. J2K, and Curt Cameruci, a.k.a. Autobot, Flosstradamus keep a generally low profile and generate mostly niche-level press, but within the confines of the dance-party circuit the finely-tuned mashup pros are embraced as much for their tight sartorial style as their abilities to work out their four turntables like a couple of antsy private-school girls. They have approached crossover status via ongoing performances with Young’s sister, “Pro Nails” phenom Kid Sister, and a tour with slick electro-twosome Chromeo, but most of all their mixes and mashes of Vice Records’ in-house army for the Toyota Scion CD-sampler collection set them up as corner-pocket party-music go-getters. The Vice consortium is a heavily curated, ever-dominating international beast-brand and offers Flosstradamus’ party credibility a tangible stamp of approval. (Kate Carraway)
The Crystelles, The Shakes at Mr. T’s Bowl
On paper, these bands would appear to be heading in completely different directions, and yet those paths end up crossing in unexpected ways. With songs like their brilliant, Kinks-style reinvention of “Oops! I Did It Again” (recorded long before the recent trend of ironic Britney Spears covers), the Shakes come off at first like a sunny power-pop band, but there’s an undercurrent of darkness and morbid wit on their 2006 CD, The Rise and Fall of Modern Living, which casts a baleful eye at the often-overrated Silver Lake “community” with such tunefully sarcastic tracks as “Gentrification Blues.” Gitane DeMone might be best known as a goth-rock icon and Christian Death affiliate, but the Crystelles, a two-woman band with her drummer daughter, Zara Kand, revel in a form of music that’s scarier and more ancient than even death rock: the blues. The Crystelles’ version of the blues is raw and primal, the sound of ghosts dragging chains and clangorous guitars through the entrails of your broken heart. Even with all that swampy voodoo tugging at her heels, Ms. DeMone sings in a haunting/haunted voice that alternates between feral howling and a cabaret-style cool — a Crystelle-blue persuasion. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, DE LA SOUL, MOS DEF, THE PHARCYDE, RAKIM at San Manuel Amphitheater, San Bernardino, noon; KARLA BONOFF, KENNY EDWARDS at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza; CH3, SHATTERED FAITH at Alex’s Bar; GLISS at Boardner’s; LESLIE & THE BADGERS at Redwood Bar & Grill; B-SIDE PLAYERS, CECI BASTIDA, BEATMO at the Roxy; BERT SUSANKA & THE ASTRONAUT LOVE TRIANGLE at Safari Sam’s, noon; GOD’S POTTERY, JESSI KLEIN at Spaceland; NINJA ACADEMY, KIND HEARTS & CORONETS, THE HEALTH CLUB at Zeppelin Music, noon-10 p.m.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 10
Sin 34, The Gears, Shattered Faith at Safari Sam’s
To paraphrase Tower of Power, what is punk? What passes for punk rock nowadays has so little to do with the aggressive and inventive music that started in the mid-’70s — clearly a new term is needed to separate corporate fluff merchants from genuinely subversive, underground risk-takers. If such safe-as-milk wannabes as Avril Lavigne and the Donnas can call themselves punk, then what does that make Julie Lanfeld? The Sin 34 singer was spitting out rude, contrarian, pre-riot-grrl blasts like “American America” in the early ’80s, backed by a super-fast (and now fully reunited) W.L.A. band that included filmmaker-drummer Dave Markey (1991: The Year Punk Broke). With three original members, the ongoing Gears still have much of the power of their early-’80s heyday, and while the band were (and are) best known for fun, flippant Ramones-style tunes about high school girls and the pleasures of smoking pot, the rockabilly-tinged “Elks Lodge Blues” is still one of the best anti-cop anthems, documenting the cracked skulls and loss of punk innocence that occurred in the wake of one of the LAPD’s first anti-punk riots. Meanwhile, hardcore pioneers Shattered Faith have reunited to slam through vintage suburban-wasteland manifestos like their namesake mini-epic, “Trilogy.” (Falling James)
Projekt Revolution at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
When Linkin Park, the hugely popular L.A. rap-rock band, head out on a summer tour, they usually bring along a caravan of friends. They call the package Projekt Revolution, and this year’s edition might be the most eclectic yet. Linkin Park headline, of course, playing tunes from last year’s relatively adventurous Minutes to Midnight, as well as older hits whose familiarity will remind you of how regular a presence L.P. have made themselves on the radio. The main stage also includes Chris Cornell, whose current solo act draws from the Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave songbooks; the Bravery, looking to build a base beyond the New York hipsterati; past-his-prime MC Busta Rhymes; and Ashes Divide, an atmospheric new outfit fronted by A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel. On the second stage: Orange County metalcore dudes Atreyu, moody grunge holdovers 10 Years, emo bands Hawthorne Heights and Armor for Sleep, and local beat fiends Street Drum Corps. Bang, meet buck. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Sunday:
THE ALIENS, VIRGINIA CITY REVIVAL, NINJA ACADEMY at Venice Boardwalk, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; A FINE FRENZY, KINA GRANNIS, MOZELLA, KEATON SIMONS at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre; MANIC HISPANIC, LOS MYSTERIOSOS at Alex’s Bar; INDIAN JEWELRY, WEAVE at the Echo; ELECTRIC PRUNES, POLECATS, JOHNNY LEGEND, WOOLLY BANDITS at the Knitting Factory, 2 p.m.; XBXRX, FOOT VILLAGE, DAVID SCOTT STONE at the Smell.
MONDAY, AUGUST 11
THE HEALTH CLUB at the Airliner; PIERRE DE REEDER at the Echo; INARA GEORGE at Largo; MIKE STINSON at Redwood Bar & Grill; JOE BERARDI at Safari Sam’s; ABE VIGODA at the Smell; THE DRONES, DIKTA at Viper Room.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 12
Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers at the Hotel Café
Samantha Crain has a cute idea with her new EP, The Confiscation. Calling it “a musical novella,” she divides up the five song titles as “chapters,” and the cover art looks like a vintage book, down to its embossed lettering. The Shawnee, Oklahoma, singer describes her collected chapters as “songs of love, hate, death, redemption, and betrayal,” although the mood is generally more gentle and lovely than bitter and harrowing. Crain’s slowly unrolling tracks have the time (most are about five minutes in length) to develop bewitching moods, if not the more fully realized characters and plotlines of a real novella. Of course, “The River” is a pop song, not a short story, and it flows along with Feist’s airy lilt, while “Traipsing Through the Aisles” has a folkie vibe, with little more than an acoustic guitar and a stray harmonica behind Crain’s rueful la-la-las. There’s a certain passionate grandeur to “The Last Stanchion Goes Belly Up,” something that’s as mysterious and vaguely archaic as its name. Also at the Santa Monica Pier, Thurs. (Falling James)
Winter Flowers, Golden Animals at the Bordello
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Juana Molinas hair defies gravity.
Winter Flowers are Los Angeles’ incredible string sextet of the 21st century. They’ve traveled back through time, absorbed the baroque beauty of Celtic folk and blended it with a wallop of rock to keep the dance floor shakin’. Primary songwriter Gavin Toler sings his symmetrical gems in gorgeous harmony with the frontline of Christof Certik and Astrid Quay. Golden Animals are new to me, and I’m a convert. Comprised of Tommy Eisner on lead vocals and electric guitar and Linda Beecroft on drums and background vocals, the Joshua Tree duo are one of the finest young bands to emerge in eons (and this crank doesn’t say that easily or often). They have elements of Chicago blues and hard psychedelic rock, but what startles is Eisner’s powerful baritone pipes, which alternately croon and growl. The songs are paeans to romance and wanderlust, and, between singer and song, the little girls will understand, I guarantee ya. (Michael Simmons)
Also playing Tuesday:
IDAHO FALLS, LESLIE & THE BADGERS at the Echo; HAUNTED GRAFFITI at the Echoplex; VICTORIA WILLIAMS at Largo; HUMAN HANDS at Pehrspace; M.D.C. at Relax Bar; DALLAS DON at Silverlake Lounge; DIKTA at the Scene; THE DEEPSEA GOES at L’Kegg Gallery.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13
Solomon Burke, Etta James at the Hollywood Bowl
Stranger than fiction, larger than life, soul pioneer Solomon Burke is an altogether extraordinary figure. Internationally acknowledged as the King of Rock & Soul, Burke — who always performs from an elaborate, gilded center-stage throne — is a vocalist whose hot-roasted, gospel-informed phrasing demands empathic reaction. Just get a load of his résumé: a radio broadcasting “Wonder Boy Preacher” at his own Solomon’s Temple at age 7; a bishop at 12; a million-selling recording artist at 14; and, at 25, the powerhouse star who almost single-handedly introduced the intensely emotional style known to the world as soul music. His complex mixture of personas — revelator and prophet, hustler and showman — is shrewdly designed to emotionally involve his audience, and he operates on an intimately manipulative level that very few others can reach, let alone sustain. He’s paired with the devastatingly effective R&B empress Etta James for a sublime affair that will leave your soul both shaken and stirred. (Jonny Whiteside)
The Locust, Qui, Upsilon Acrux at the Echo
Lest you think that the only real musical superheroes in life are the Aquabats (gak) or Caroliner (yay), here come the Locust, masked men of musical misanthropy, whose stage spectaculars are the sonic equivalent of a nude knife fight in a latrine trench. The philosophy behind their spazzed-out synth-grind fury is crystallized most eloquently with this track from last year’s New Erections: “The Unwilling . . . Led by the Unqualified . . . Doing the Unnecessary . . . For the Ungrateful.” But don’t let that bum you out completely, there’s also Qui, the alternately suave and screechy noise-grind trio that boasts Scratch Acid founder David Yow as part of its roster. Yow survived a collapsed lung after a Pittsburgh live action this past January, so you know they’re the kind of artists who give it their absolute utmost. Tying the whole room together nicely is Upsilon Acrux, longtime San Diego lieges of loud who promise (threaten?) “maximist” “brutal prog” stylings aplenty. Also: local shouty proto-funk scree merchants Halloween Swim Team. (David Cotner)
Bigelf at the Roxy
Of course, Los Angeles’ own Bigelf have got a supreme retro-ness (as in retro-metal, retro-prog, retro-pop, retro-AOR) that caricatures several awesome ’60s and ’70s acts (some say ELP and ELO, but I offer up the Nice and Roy Wood’s Wizard). They also cover the ’90s if you count the Jellyfish influence, one of the first groups to go on such a Mad Hatter nostalgia trip. The difference here is that with Cheat the Gallows Bigelf will probably steer clear of the dreaded sophomore slump. Lead guitarist Ace Mark is free with the Ace Frehley licks, and he’s the Terminator version of Tony Iommi, but they could’ve named the band the Crazy World of Damon Fox because he’s the madman in charge. While many groups talk about their Mellotron sounds, most of it is just that — “sounds” from a sample library — but Fox don’t need no stinking plug-ins when he’s got the real thing. (Daniel Siwek)
Also playing Wednesday:
KEATON SIMONS at the Hotel Café; SOPHIE B. HAWKINS, JANET ROBIN at Pershing Square, 8 p.m.; MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS, THE DRONES at Three Clubs.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14
Juana Molina, Carmen Consoli, Samantha Crain at the Santa Monica Pier
This is a curiously great and relevant all-progressive-women-musicians lineup for Santa Monica’s annual Twilight Dance Series. Juana Molina is the Argentine singer-composer (also a former TV comedian) whose hybrid of mesmerizing acoustic folk-pop with beautifully quirky electronic strains has won her rightful acclaim. Her newly rhythm-heavy album, Un Día, recorded at her home in Buenos Aires, is set for October release. The Italian vocalist-songwriter Carmen Consoli brings both heavily rocking and Mediterranean-airy pop songs that boast heady lyrical concerns — AIDS, the suppression of women, Greek mythology and a controversially anti-religious tone — while conveying them in a rich, sensual contralto often wrapped in folkloric musical settings. Much of her award-winning new album, Eva Contro Eva, is graced with traditional instruments of southern Italy, such as fiddle, accordion and Sicilian shepherd’s flute. Choctaw storyteller Samantha Crain also appears; see separate pick for her Hotel Café show on Tuesday. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
XIU XIU, CARLA BOZULICH at the Echo (see Music feature); PHENOMENAUTS, VIC RUGGIERO, KEPI GHOULIE at the Knitting Factory; LIZ PAPPADEMAS at Tangier.
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