Rock Picks: Detour Music Festival, Dandy Warhols, David Byrne, Die Rockers Die
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2
Mad Juana at the Viper Room
“You take the world for granted as you float up on your cake,” Karmen Guy purrs with a deceptive sugariness on Mad Juana’s new album, Bruja on the Corner (Acetate Records), before digging in the knife. “You think you’re some kind of a dignitary, but you’re nothing more than a fake,” she declares while accordionist Marni Rice, saxist Danny Ray and trumpeter Nico Camargo serenade her with merrily bittersweet, soused and swanky rejoinders straight out of old-time New Orleans. So many musicians invoke witchcraft and voodoo without ever sounding magical, but the New York group are indeed bewitching, with a timelessly exotic blur of Gypsy-punk influences akin to Manu Chao and Gogol Bordello that’s taken to another level of enchantment altogether by Guy’s sultry chanteuse persona. Her songwriting partner in crime, guitarist-bassist Sami Yaffa, lays down some considerable groovy grooves that go far beyond his previous contributions to Hanoi Rocks and the reconstituted New York Dolls, such as the dreamy dub interlude in the otherwise madcap “Strangers in Paradise” and the stormy acoustic guitars and haunting melodica-flecked sadness of “Circus Downtown.” It all culminates most impressively in the sinuously mesmerizing “Revolution Avenue,” whose dueling horns, loping dub bass, psychedelic sound effects and Guy’s border-dissolving imagery echo the febrile moods of Tijuana No’s classic album Contra-Revolucion Avenue. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
RANCID, DR. KNOW at Henry Fonda Theater; MY BLOODY VALENTINE at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; NEIL DIAMOND at Hollywood Bowl; GOGOL BORDELLO at Grove of Anaheim; JAMES at El Rey Theatre; SIGUR RÓS at Greek Theatre; SANTANA, SALVADOR SANTANA BAND at Nokia Theatre; DARKER MY LOVE at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; JOHNNY WINTER at the Canyon; JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, CHAPIN SISTERS at the Echo; TERMANOLOGY, EVIDENCE at Knitting Factory.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3
The Dandy Warhols at the Wiltern
With their designer-vintage threads, flippant attitude, and ability to cherry-pick the best bits from the last 40 years of British and American rock and bake them into the grooviest pop-pastiche ever, the Dandy Warhols remain one of rock’s most effective party bands. It’s a shtick that would get old if the group didn’t so thoroughly reinvent themselves with each album: the narcotic swirl of Odditorium, or Warlords of Mars; the disco love of Welcome to the Monkey House; the soundtrack-crashing masterpiece Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia; or silly stuff like the cover of the Xmas carol “Little Drummer Boy” (it actually rocks). The one constant is the observations of singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor, nailing the slacker zeitgeist with wry precision. The new Earth to the Dandy Warhols, reveling in dirty-psyche jams, squelchy guitars, and a charming wackiness, is a fitting title. Don’t worry: Even when these Portlanders free-fall down a rabbit hole, they still sound like themselves. (Andrew Lentz)
Henry Butler at the Getty Center
When New Orleans–born-and-bred piano man Henry Butler sits down to work the keys, it’s an experience not dissimilar to a slide into some surreal musical vortex. His playing — evocative, lush, dazzlingly executed — hints at ragtime, stride, boogie and bop, but these serve merely as reference points for his musical surge, a rich, rushing flow of all the influences swirling about the Crescent City jazz head. Whether it’s exotic Caribbean sounds, hot swing, after-hours philosophizing or Professor Longhair’s rumbling rhumba blues, Butler’s primary concern is innovation rather than replication, and his communicative zeal always lends a singular glow to the proceedings. This classically trained cat is, above all else, a seeker and, as such, remains deliciously unpredictable and impossible to categorize. One thing is certain: Butler’s nobility, devotion and unparalleled skill invariably combine for a tremendous earful. (Jonny Whiteside)
David Byrne at the Greek Theatre
Nearly 30 years after their collaboration on the groundbreaking My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, former Talking Heads front man David Byrne and brainy superproducer Brian Eno have joined forces for a new album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which the duo released on the Internet in August for a very reasonable $8.99. (Stream it for free at everythingthathappens.com.) If we’re being honest about it, Everything That Happens isn’t as great as it might have been; compared to Bush of Ghosts’ spooky sampledelica, it kind of sounds like a so-so Peter Gabriel record. But there are highlights — most notably “Strange Overtones,” a sly little funk-rock cut — and, anyway, the new album will only form a portion of Byrne’s show tonight, which he’s calling “Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno.” That means stuff from the three wonderful Talking Heads albums Eno produced between 1978 and 1980 — and that means “Once in a Lifetime,” “Life During Wartime” and, with any luck, “Take Me to the River.” (Mikael Wood)
Deerhoof at Avalon
Offend Maggie is the name of Deerhoof’s new album on Kill Rock Stars. It is, like the group itself, totally indefinable. It can make you cry, for some reason, as it scratches your skull. It’s so earnest, but it’s so smart too. You get a new kind of unroboticized dance music, a punky new world music, from singer Satomi, who always sounds like your new best friend. Last year’s Friend Opportunity found the group finally reaching that shaky place where their experimental, avant-gardist instincts knew enough to stumble upon music that made the heart go boo — somehow. This one is even better, grander, deeper, funnier, more heartbreaking — somehow. How do they do their noisy, jazzy, only-sort-of-funky, not-too-sweet, never-ever-sour sound for these and all future times? Don’t ask, don’t tell. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday:
LOU REED & ULRICH KRIEGER at REDCAT; RANCID, MANIC HISPANIC at Henry Fonda Theater; SANTANA, THE SALVADOR SANTANA BAND at Nokia Theatre; CARBON 9 at the Cat Club; DEVON WILLIAMS’ SOMETHING, RESIDUAL ECHOES at Echo Curio; FIFI LARUE at 14 Below; PRESTON SMITH at Good Hurt; T.I. at the Key Club; ODETTA at McCabe’s; MARCIA BALL at the Mint; ANAVAN at Pehrspace; REBEL REBEL at Relax Bar; URINALS at the Smell; THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE, THE PARSON RED HEADS, DOWNTOWN-UNION, LE SWITCH at Spaceland; PATRIA JACOBS at Taix; VAGABOND OPERA, JESSICA FICHOT at Tangier; PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS at Fingerprints Records, 5 p.m.; JOHNNY RAWLS, LADY BIANCA at Hollywood Park Casino; MIKE STINSON at Cinema Bar.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4
Dr. John & the Lower 911 at House of Blues
Not only did Hurricane Katrina dramatically transform the physical landscape surrounding New Orleans, it also seems to have permanently changed the musical mood in the Crescent City. Musicians who were previously interested only in letting the good times roll became protest singers overnight. The city’s soundtrack moved from party-time funk into somber, funereal balladry. The irony is that, coming from such a traditionally fertile musical crossroads, many of the anguished post-Katrina homages sound so bland and unremarkable. Enter the gris-gris man himself, Dr. John, to write some passionate avenging anthems that commemorate the (ongoing) tragedy while still keeping the spice percolating in a rich gumbo on his new album, City That Care Forgot. Without devolving into mawkish sentimentality, the good doctor excoriates the Bush administration for its many failings on such baleful yet funky tunes as “Promises, Promises” and “Land Grab.” “I saw the great vacant ghost/of a politician’s stare/in the city that care forgot,” he sings on the title track. Guest stars Willie Nelson, Terence Blanchard, Ani DiFranco and even the typically muddle-headed Eric Clapton lend crucial support without overwhelming the distinctive flavor of Dr. John’s craggily soulful vocals and decisive piano hammering. (Falling James)
Detour Music Festival in downtown Los Angeles
Just for one day, the bustle and commerce downtown comes to a glorious halt, the streets are blocked off to traffic, and the flashing lights and amplified sounds of several dozen bands and DJs bounce off the sober stone walls of staid City Hall and the normally grim edifices of the nearby courthouses. L.A. Weekly celebrates its annual Best of L.A. issue — and the city itself — with a big ol’ street party that features a nonstop procession of local and international performers spread out over four outdoor stages, a veritable four-ring circus of musical distractions that ranges from the crude, rude garage-punk anarchy of Atlanta’s Black Lips and the angular bluesy rock charm of San Diego’s Grand Ole Party to the sleek and shiny dance music of Brooklyn’s Hercules & Love Affair and the celestial pop-rock glow of Nico Vega. Costa Mesa’s Japanese Motors put some wit into their garage-pop, and At the Drive-In spinoff the Mars Volta overload the senses with knotty hard-rock wailing. Even better, Bitter:Sweet spice up their groovy-cool spy-movie music with slinky, seductive trip-hop beats, while the Submarines bring it all back home with their infectiously ebullient pop hooks. But the true ringleaders of this floating carnival might well be Gogol Bordello, whose frenzied blur of Gypsy punk, Eastern European folk, rock and dub influences is enlivened further by the acrobatic high jinks of their vivacious dancer-percussionists. Think about all of the times you’ve daydreamed about rock & roll interventions while you were marooned downtown on jury duty, lost and anonymous among a sea of suits and briefcases. Tonight, the streets belong to us; we can be heroes, even if it is just for one day. At First & Main sts., dwntwn; starts at noon. www.laweekly.com/detour. (Falling James)
Eagle Rock Music Festival along Colorado Boulevard
Meanwhile, the other big music festival occurring today spotlights the prolific underground-music scene that’s bursting out of the northeast side of town, and it has the added allure of being free. Just about a zillion indie-rock, jazz, world-music, folk, experimental and classical musicians will converge at various venues along Eagle Rock’s Colorado Boulevard, along with poets, artists and entertainment for kids. There’s really too much going on to list, but highlights include Aztlan Underground, who slam rap and punk together to buttress their fiery pro-immigrant, anti-imperialist messages; the multi-instrumentalist Emily Wells, who’ll open up her “suitcase of fireflies” to reveal classically influenced, violin-drenched art-pop songs that should appeal to Kate Bush fans; Evangenitals, who belie the lame pun of their name with entrancing strains of rootsy Americana pop; the contemplative, jazzy grooves of Build an Ark; the shrouded, claustrophobic psychedelia of Crystal Antlers; the giddily thrilling thrash-punk squalling of Mika Miko; the Radar Bros.’ laid-back indie pop; and vallenato radicals Very Be Careful, among many, many others. Starts at 5 p.m. Colorado Blvd. between Eagle Rock Blvd. & Argus St. www.myspace.com/eaglerockmusicfestival. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
RANCID, THE OOHLAS at Henry Fonda Theater; THE SWELL SEASON, IRON & WINE at the Greek Theatre; NEIL DIAMOND at Staples Center; THE LADY TIGRA at the Echo; CHUPACOBRA at Mr. T’s Bowl; THE OSCAR JORDAN BAND at Paladino’s; SIMON STOKES, DOGWEED at Taix; THE CHERRY BLUESTORMS at Tangier; KIM FOXMAN at the Mountain Bar; JAMES HARMAN at Cafe Boogaloo; JAMES INTVELD at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5
RANCID, LOS CREEPERS at Henry Fonda Theater; DENGUE FEVER, CRYSTAL ANTLERS, GRAND OLE PARTY at First. St. & Linden Ave., Long Beach; JACKSON BROWNE at the Orpheum Theatre; MIKE STINSON at the Echo, 5 p.m.; LIZ PHAIR at the Troubadour.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6
Die Rockers Die, The Health Club at Mr. T’s Bowl
The local collective Die Rockers Die are so prolific, their recent three-disc album Powered by People comes in an oversize package that looks more like a DVD case than a CD. Musically, they’re all over the place stylistically, delving into trance-y interludes (the eight-minute-long “All the Happiness”), hazy indie rock (“Walking Naked in the Moon”), psychedelia (“Rectum, Prostate, Uterus, Penis”), spacy Krautrock explorations (“A Salute to All the Nonbelievers”), feedback-driven noise rambles (“Who Are We Trying to Please?”), tripped-out folk (“Television Worship”), gently crude jangles (“You Killed Yer Own Dream”) and assorted indescribable ranting (“Public Announcement”). They state that their mission is to “dub this reality . . . and the other ones too.” Local trio the Health Club layer fuzzily throbbing riffs and art-punk grooves over guitarist Gerard’s restrained singing, and the combination of chugging noise and daydreamy melodies is quite captivating, especially on sensually abstract songs like “Fragile” and “The Muse From Venus.” (Falling James)
Also playing Monday:
WADDY WACHTEL at the Joint; KENAN BELL, NOAH & THE WHALE, LINDI ORTEGA at Spaceland; LIZ PHAIR at the Troubadour.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7
Opeth at the Wiltern
Loitering with considerable intent around the intersection of bookish prog rock and dexterous death metal are widdly Swedes Opeth, who over the course of nine albums have made unlikely inroads into the American mainstream (this summer’s Watershed gate-crashed the Billboard Top 200 at number 23). Many a deathly act claim to be “pushing the boundaries” of the genre, but Opeth aren’t kidding: As well as rather-passé acoustic interludes, their grandiose epics (last time I saw them, they barely fitted three of them into their allotted support slot) encompass not only full-blown melody but creamy harmonies too. There’s some beast-from-the-deep gurgling and pointy-guitar wankage, sure, but these are more than offset by soothing strings, lullaby vocals and passages of Stone’enge-y folk. Don’t be thrown by their backwoods-stoner visage: Opeth aren’t stuck in some oblivious time warp but instead moving proudly forward, up, down and sideways exactly as they see fit. (Paul Rogers)
Heavy Trash at the Echo
When Jon Spencer first came to public attention in the mid-’80s with Pussy Galore, he crushed together his roots-rock influences with tinny, skeletal guitars, junk-yard drums and no bass to create a newly trash-compacted form of trash-rock. Most folks just assumed that Pussy Galore couldn’t play their instruments, but underneath all that art-rock noise and bent-blues scratchiness was a uniquely dehydrated, brilliantly condensed form of insect music that made Captain Beefheart sound like Barry Manilow. Over the years with such ensuing projects as Boss Hog and the Blues Explosion, Mr. Spencer has expanded his musical vision to include soul, garage rock, funk and rockabilly — albeit strained through a filter of heavily trashed fuzz and his post-ironic sensibility. His project with Matt Verta-Ray (Madder Rose, Speedball Baby) digs deeper into the rockabilly bag on their second album, 2007’s Going Way Out With Heavy Trash (Yep Roc Records). Both singers revel in semi-Elvis-y crooning over some hoppin’ rockabilly rhythms (“Kissy Baby,” “That Ain’t Right”) interspersed with the occasional raw-voiced punky blast (“I Want Oblivion”). Oblivion never sounded so good. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
JACKSON BROWNE at Amoeba Music, 6 p.m.; AUTOMATIC MUSIC EXPLOSION at Canter’s Kibitz Room; WAILING SOULS at the Key Club; RACHAEL YAMAGATA at Largo at the Coronet; BOBB BRUNO, DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR at Mr. T’s Bowl; THE DEACON JONES BLUES BAND at Redwood Bar & Grill; THE STUDIOFIX at Silverlake Lounge; CATTLE DECAPITATION at the Whisky; RONNIE MACK, SKIP HELLER at El Cid.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK, NATASHA BEDINGFIELD at Staples Center; GIANT SAND, ROBERT FRANCIS, BOLLWEEVIL at the Echo; JOE FRANK, JULIE CHRISTENSEN at Largo at the Coronet; DANNY B. HARVEY at Taix.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9
Global Drum Project at UCLA’s Royce Hall
In Mickey Hart’s big-bang theory, the universal noise signaling the creation of all things evolved into rhythm, and those mighty grooves vibrate at the core of existence, nurturing the life force. Should we be surprised that this worldview comes from a guy best known as half of the Grateful Dead’s drumming tandem? After all, he has done a shitload of psychedelics in his day and devoted himself to the study and advocacy of the planet’s percussive traditions. But Hart is no resting-on-his-laurels, pseudo-academic acid casualty, because for him the best of all things is putting hand, stick or mallet to drum in the company of simpatico groove merchants. His latest venture, Global Drum Project, features Hart, bata-conguero extraordinaire Giovanni Hidalgo, eloquent talking drummer Sikiru Adepoju and, especially, Hart’s long-time comrade in the groove, the insane tabla talent Zakir Hussain. Hart and his beat-crazy buddies have been deep diving into the planetary pulse stream for years, and the Project’s organic-electronic soundscapes represent some of their most evocative explorations yet. (Tom Cheyney)
Killing Joke, Pigmy Love Circus at House of Blues
Tonight there will be heavy-duty balls-to-the wall violence with doom and gloom as Killing Joke hits the stage. They’re only playing three U.S. cities on this tour and are gracing House of Blues in the same pounding-rhythm, grinding-vocal form they employed at their 1979 birth. Not only revered by the world of industrial music, Killing Joke have been cited and thanked by everyone from Ministry and Prong (both of which onetime K.J. bassist Raven later joined) to the Foo Fighters and Napalm Death. They’ve had a career spanning almost 30 years and over a dozen albums, and the set is likely to include everything from “Wardance” to “Democracy” and everything between. Hitting the stage before Killing Joke with the force of a beef-powered locomotive is Pigmy Love Circus. Prepare to be violated; get on stage and belt out a little “Dagwood Killed Blondie” with Mr. Savage — if you have the balls for it, that is. (Diamond Bodine-Fischer)
Also playing Thursday:
EMILY WELLS at the Hotel Café; GENGHIS TRON, HEALTH, YIP YIP, CLIPD BEAKS at the Knitting Factory; FLYING TOURBILLON ORCHESTRA, LISTING SHIP at Pehrspace; LOVE PSYCHEDELICO at the Troubadour; RANDY TRAVIS at Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine.
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