Rock Picks: B.B. King, Matmos, Coldplay
THURSDAY, JULY 10Playing Thursday:
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The Trashwomen audition for Celebrity Circus.
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Eyes on the prize: Mavis Staples
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Candied knights: Matmos
YAZ at the Orpheum Theatre (see Music feature); THE BLASTERS at Levitt Pavilion, Pasadena, 7:30 p.m.; THE DEADLY SYNDROME, MISS DERRINGER at Hammer Museum, 8 p.m.; KING KHAN & THE SHRINES, JACUZZI BOYS at the Echo; TILLY & THE WALL at the Echoplex, 7:30 p.m.; DON BYRON, BILLY CHILDS & JOE HENRY at Largo at the Coronet; THE GUTTER TWINS, ED HARCOURT at the Roxy; ROBERT FRANCIS at the Troubadour.
FRIDAY, JULY 11
B.B. King, Mavis Staples, Leon Russell at Pacific Amphitheater
Talk about running the gamut. Whether it’s the highly spiced sting of renowned blues ambassador B.B. King’s storied ax, Lucille, the sanctified gospel-to-funk tumult of the incomparable vocalist Mavis Staples or the quasi-mystical rock & roll philosophizing of the unpredictable Oklahoma titan Leon Russell, this bill represents a fascinating layer-upon-layer display of vernacular pop culture. Each of the performers has risen from both unlikely and decidedly humble origins to attain an impressive degree of success, fame and, more important, artistic significance. King, Staples and Russell have all exerted a pervasive influence, one that reaches far beyond the sterile confines of the marketplace and into the common American soul, and whether you crave lowdown blues, spiritual elevation or psychedelicized hillbilly insight, this show rates as a three-headed model of sheer musical temptation. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Friday:
YAZ at the Orpheum Theatre; SUPERGRASS at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; MARIA TAYLOR at the Echoplex; GREG GINN at Fais Do-Do; CUTE LEPERS, SUN TRASH, THE BILLYBONES at the Knitting Factory; THE CHAPIN SISTERS at McCabe’s; ALBERT HAMMOND JR. at Spaceland.
SATURDAY, JULY 12
The Trashwomen, The Flakes, The Jinxes at Mr. T’s Bowl
Proving the theory of devolution, the Trashwomen are back together again, headlining a bill of like-minded lowlifes who seem stubbornly disinterested in taking advantage of the significant advances in musical technology over the past 40 years. Society thought it had gotten off easily when San Francisco trio the Trashwomen broke up in the ’90s, but damage spread further when two members, Tina Lucchesi and Danielle Pimm, formed the garage-punk hellions the Bobbyteens. Now they’ve reunited with guitarist Elka Zolot for more mayhem, stomping “Justine” and “Peter Gunn” into barely recognizable, fuzzy little bits and slamming out surf crudities like “Space Needle” and the self-explanatory “I’m Trash.” Fellow Bay Area reprobates the Flakes are “five long-haired creeps who like money and old records,” and they have an energetic early-Stones garage-rock snarl on tracks like “Sadie Slye” and “Amberjean” from their rippin’ 2005 CD, Back to School (Dollar Records). Los Angeles answers back with the Farfisa-pumped caveman declarations of the Jinxes. (Falling James)
Rachid Taha at California Plaza
Sometimes multiple-musical-personality disorder offers a way out of the chaos. In Rachid Taha’s case, will the righteous pan-Arab neo-trad punk or the teetering self-parodist leather-clad rocker take the stage? He could barely stagger upright at the Knitting Factory last time in town, his growl more sodden slur than gravelly shout, his band bravely annihilating then reconstituting the raucous sonorities. Yet a pre-911 gig at Bimbo’s 365 in S.F. still ranks among the most revelatory roc del mundo mashdowns I’ve ever danced my ass off to, on par with Manu Chao and the Pogues at their most recklessly effusive. No surprise that Rachid’s latest collection, Rock El Casbah — The Best Of, bears obvious homage to the Clash, considering his peerless cover of that paradoxical signature tune. But the French-bred Algerian iconoclast also counts rai progenitor Messaoud Bellemou among his heroes, and worldly psychedelicist Steve Hillage among his collaborators: There are plenty of chefs in Taha’s madly creative soul kitchen. (Tom Cheyney)
Supergrass at Avalon
While some bands parlay a fortuitous collision with fashion into fleeting adulation, others are simply destined to become crowd-pleasing stalwarts on sheer musical merit. Supergrass are the latter, their mischievous sense of melody, charming audio curiosity and unpretentiously stylized delivery (not to mention a rhythm section apparently synced-up at birth) having earned them an era-defying, theater-filling longevity. Damn it, they’re a career band — just when we thought the major labels had stamped out such substantive nonsense! Fifteen years after their cheeky-chappy, proto-Chav debut single, “Caught by the Fuzz” — and those arrestingly simian sideburns — collared indie-heads everywhere, Supergrass are continuing the Britpop lineage of the Small Faces, the Kinks, Buzzcocks, the Jam and Madness that can be so clearly traced through their songs. Following 2005’s more acoustic, wistful Road to Rouen, this year’s full-length, Diamond Hoo Haa, is a more overtly fan-friendly effort that glints with Bowiesque glam grandeur and Elton John–y melancholy. Also at Amoeba Music, Fri., 7 p.m. (Paul Rogers)
Ratatat at the Echoplex
This Brooklyn duo work an appealingly basic formula: Guitarist Mike Stroud, a former sideman for Ben Kweller and Dashboard Confessional, rips sweet heavy metal solos over post-Neptunes electro-rap beats by synth jockey Evan Mast, and that’s it. Stroud and Mast just put out their third album, LP3, this past Tuesday; like their first two, it sounds like Daft Punk (for whom Ratatat opened at the L.A. Sports Arena last summer) on a dime-store budget. In addition to their studio discs, Ratatat have also Web-released two remix collections where they layer familiar hip-hop rhymes over new tracks; the latest includes a delicious take on Biggie Smalls’ “Party and Bullshit” that makes you wish Smalls had stuck around to work with the cream of today’s underground-producer crop. Try not to pump your fist tonight, and you’ll fail. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Saturday:
HIEROGLYPHICS, NOBODY, PRINCE ALI at El Rey Theatre; THE WHO, THE FLAMING LIPS, PEARL JAM at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion; CUTE LEPERS, SUN TRASH at Alex’s Bar; BRAND NUBIAN, 2 MEX at Crash Mansion; JEN CHAPIN & THE ROSETTA TRIO at Genghis Cohen; KY-MANI MARLYE at House of Blues; KEPI GHOULIE at the Knitting Factory, 7 p.m.; LEVI DEXTER at the Redwood Bar & Grille; BABYLAND at the Smell; RTX, BAD DUDES at Spaceland.
SUNDAY, JULY 13
Matmos at the Echoplex
Matmos made their initial mark with music that sampled and rhythmatized sounds that emanated from the body, these great pulpy, surgical masses edited and looped into very clever dance tracks. Following the ambitious album The Civil War, they did The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast, which comprises tributes to 10 people they admire, including William S. Burroughs, Darby Crash, Joe Meek and King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Both discs offered incredibly clever programming and some wonderfully strange textures — teeth grinding, flesh being burned by cigarettes, cows eating or having their uteri pumped full of air with a vacuum cleaner and played like a bagpipe. But now Matmos are back with the kitschy-cool Supreme Balloon, where they’ve used nothing but vintage analog synths and sundry ancient electronic devices — no mikes, no vocals, no sounds of cigarettes burning flesh — to thump, toot, whoosh and squeal in six-layers-thick irony that says, “Why, yes, of course, it does sound like video-game music, and that’s a good thing.” (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday:
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Inara George & Van Dyke Parks put on their sailin shoes.
SLIPKNOT, MASTODON, MACHINE HEAD, UNDEROATH at Hyundai Pavilion; FATSO JETSON, CARNAGE ASADA, THE PROBE at the Airliner; JAMES WILSEY at the Echo, 5 p.m.; PAULA FUGA at Malibu Inn; BONEBRAKE SYNCOPATORS at Safari Sam’s, noon; SECRET SOCIETY OF THE SONIC SIX, APE HAS KILLED APE at Spaceland.
MONDAY, JULY 14
Coldplay at the Forum
Coldplay are tremendously popular yet vilified (“You know how I know you’re gay? You like Coldplay”). Providing comfort music for the easily rattled, Coldplay have grown from an apologetic, unfun British band into one marked by timid revelations and domestic lamentations. Their aggressive flaccidity has again been confirmed with Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, the new Brian Eno–produced record. Even though it’s their most esoteric and interesting release, they’re still clawing at the air for something better than heretofores. Most of all, Coldplay are a band that struggles for cool rather than free-falls into it. Their struggle is founded in that overwhelming nerd need to Talk and Think instead of Do or Act, and the middling sad-sack histrionics on a stadium level makes comfortable the notion of rock music as consternation rather than apocalypse. Repent! Also Tues. (Kate Carraway)
Also playing Monday:
JAIL WEDDINGS, MORIS TEPPER at the Echo; NICK OLIVERI at the Hotel Café; LIZ PAPPADEMAS at Mr. T’s Bowl; UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF GIANTS, PAUL DILLON at Spaceland.
TUESDAY, JULY 15
COLDPLAY at the Forum; TOM JONES, SHEILA E. at Pacific Amphitheatre; THE BINGES at Safari Sam’s; JOSEPH ARTHUR, ANNA TERNHEIM at the Troubadour.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16
Inara George with Van Dyke Parks at Tangier
“Want to find the bottom of my heart?” Inara George sings at the beginning of her extraordinary forthcoming album, An Invitation, and goes looking for it on a dozen tracks examining the joys and vexations of romance. “It’s my own private musical,” says she. George conveys the gamut of emotions without vibrato and with minimal coloring through impeccable tonal control, intelligent phrasing, and pipes that are indeed connected to her heart’s bottom. The record was created in tandem with legendary composer/arranger and lifelong family friend Van Dyke Parks, whose sweeping string sections nip at atonality and match the affective peaks and valleys referenced by the singer. Joined by Grant Geissman on guitar, Joe Karnes on upright bass and Parks on piano, George performs An Invitation sans violas in Tangier’s restaurant room. “Sort of like dinner theater,” she cracks. Also Wed., July 23. (Michael Simmons)
The Bowmans at the Hotel Café
Sister act the Bowmans create their own little oasis of beauty and tranquility every Wednesday this month at the Hotel Café, just a few feet from the constant river of traffic rushing urgently down Cahuenga. It’s a neat trick these two Iowa natives learned when they moved to Brooklyn: finding the inner heart of things by taking the time to linger on and give in fully to feelings of loneliness, joy, restlessness and homesickness. Sarah Bowman has played cello with Rasputina, and there are some graceful string and horn arrangements blended with the rustic, understated instrumentation on the Bowmans’ 2007 CD, Far From Home (Mother West), but her harmonies with sister Claire are most spellbinding when they’re backed by little more than an acoustic guitar. It’s beyond lovely how their voices quiver together on “Williamsburg Bridge” and the austere title track, and the way a delicate, extended note soars marvelously through the break in the aptly titled “Make It Last.” (Falling James)
The Monolators at the Echo
The Monolators are too endearingly weird to be rigidly summarized as a garage, punk or indie group. Formerly a lo-fi duo with singer-guitarist Eli Chartkoff and singer-drummer Mary Chartkoff, they’ve expanded to a full band with lead guitarist Tom Bogdon and new bassist Ashley Jex. The Monolators punk out at times, such as when Mary describes a strange scene at Mr. T’s Bowl on “Eagle Fighting Zebra,” which rumbles along with her ominous, tom-tom-driven urgency. She reveals a softer side, cooing melodically amid the chiming guitars of “You Look Good on the Train,” the title track of their 2007 CD EP. Meanwhile, Eli writes playful songs like “At the Top of the Stairs” and “My Weaker Self,” which are distinguished by a sense of Jonathan Richman–style whimsy and delivered with a uniquely twisted yowl. He’s breezily wistful on the exuberant pop gem “Strawberry Roan,” from the Monos’ 2006 debut album, Our Tears Have Wings, but he balances that bit of sweetness with shadowy art-rockers like “We Fell Dead.” (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday:
ERIC BURDON, JACK BRUCE, MELANIE, THE TURTLES at the Greek Theatre; JOURNEY, HEART, CHEAP TRICK at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre; ALEKS SYNTEK at House of Blues; NICO VEGA, BANGKOK 5, 8mm at the Key Club; CECI BASTIDA at Tangier; SHEARWATER at Fingerprints, Long Beach, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, JULY 17
The Duke Spirit at the Hammer Museum
“No one wastes time quite like I do,” Liela Moss sings charmingly somber over Toby Butler’s lulling bass in a quiet interlude before the incoming fuzz storm of “Wooden Heart,” from the Duke Spirit’s recent album, Neptune. She’s a mesmerizing time waster, maintaining a cool Mariska Veres/Grace Slick serenity even when she’s banging sinuously against her tambourine, blowing occasional harmonica and stalking around the stage like a natural-born rock star. Guitarists Luke Ford and Daniel Higgins come up with some interesting sonic swells without noodling or resorting to typical solos, while Butler and drummer Olly Betts are strong and non-flashy, keeping everything moving with a compulsively throbbing drive on such midtempo rockers as “The Step and the Walk” and a lighter touch on more spectral pop tunes like “My Sunken Treasure.” There’s something unique and organic about this British band even as there’s something instantly classic and familiar about them. There’s something momentous about them as well — one gets the feeling they’ll be playing much bigger places very soon. 10899 Wilshire Blvd. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
GIRL IN A COMA at Alex’s Bar; RAUL MALO at the Canyon; BODIES OF WATER, HENRY CLAY PEOPLE at the Echo; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo at the Coronet; BUSHWALLA, ZACH BROOCKE at the Mint; MISS DERRINGER at Safari Sam’s; JASON FALKNER at Spaceland; HARRY & THE POTTERS at the Troubadour.
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