Rock Picks: Electric Daisy Carnival, Explosion in the Sky, Rodriguez
FRIDAY, JUNE 26
THE HICKOIDS AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
Apart from maybe the Groovy Rednecks or Hank III, there aren’t any country-rock performers around these days who live it up recklessly and raucously with the same boozy, profane attitude and hell-raisin’ abandon as the Hickoids. When they started in 1984, their hardcore thrashing of C&W made a rude dent in an Austin scene that was already populated by such weirdoes as Scratch Acid, Daniel Johnston and the Butthole Surfers. The Hickoids’ cowpunk sound might have been inspired by the early Gun Club, but their alcohol-fueled exploits and the defiantly goofy subject matter on their 1985 debut album, We’re in it for the Corn, put them more in a league with one of Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s other bands, Tex & the Horseheads. Of course, even the whacked-out Horseheads occasionally revealed unexpectedly serious and touchingly soulful emotions, something the Hickoids would never bother to do. A recurring theme involves singer Jeff Smith finding himself in an unfamiliar, embarrassing place after a drunken blackout, which occurs at least twice on the Hickoids’ recent reissued 1989 CD, Waltz-a-Cross-Dress-Texas (Saustex), produced by ubiquitous ’80s indie producer Spot. “I woke up on the floor in Hollywood, California/and [drummer] Wade Driver was laying there in a dress/and the cops were kicking his ass/And I said, ‘You know, down in Texas we know that ain’t no way to treat a lady,’” as Smith eloquently explains on the transvestite ode “Queen of the Bar-B-Q.” Smith and fellow original guitarist Davy Jones are joined by new members from Haunted Garage, the Tombstones and Bigfoot Chester on this tour, their first to the West Coast since the semi-infamous Fiasco Magnifico jaunt back in 1989. They’ve also got an upcoming album, Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit, whose title may or may not refer to Harry Chapin. (Falling James)
THE NEUROTICS AT AMERICAN LEGION POST 206
The Neurotics kicked around Detroit in the late 1980s with a straight-ahead, tunefully driving punk & roll sound that drew heavily from the Ramones and the Heartbreakers. But the Motor City’s vaunted garage-rock revival was still a decade away, so the group eventually moved to Hollywood, where they stood out for a little while as one of the more authentically rocking bands in a scene then dominated by grunge and metal mercenaries. Drummer Roy Morgan (the Excessories, Nikki Corvette, Kevin K) and lanky singer-guitarist Johnny Neurotic, who resembles the Dils’ Tony Kinman and yowls with a coolly insolent sneer, recently started up the trio again with a new bassist, George Wright. Their compact power-punk songs are as catchy as ever, albeit once again out of step with prevailing trends. How good are the Neurotics? Well, they’re able to take one of the worst and sappiest Rolling Stones songs, “As Tears Go By,” give it some speed and fuzz, and transform it into a viably hooky punk anthem. Even better, though, are such originals as “Not Right Now” and “What Was It Like,” which aim for a power-pop melodicism but have so much swarming punk energy, they instead evoke lost Australian bands like the Psycho Surgeons. The Neurotics are billed tonight with simpatico Blondie-influenced New Yorkers the Choke. 227 N. Avenue 55, Highland Park. (Falling James)
ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL AT LOS ANGELES MEMORIAL COLISEUM
“Superblooming beats, funkdafied freaks and full-size carnival rides” are promised at this annual electronic-music blowout, which might not go on till the break of dawn either of its two nights this weekend but should come as close as legally allowed. Props to the organizers for assembling a lineup that spans pretty much the entirety of the computer-groove spectrum (excepting, you know, stuff that only works through laptop headphones): Paul Oakenfold, Groove Armada and Paul Van Dyk will bring the big-tent boom; David Guetta and Shiny Toy Guns should provide a little song craft; Boys Noize, Simian Mobile Disco and Major Lazer (featuring M.I.A.’s right-hand men Diplo and Switch) will bring the hipsters to their skinny-jeansed knees. Shame about Fatboy Slim’s last-minute dropout, but hey — would you really have remembered his set anyway? Also Saturday. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Friday:
ARETHA FRANKLIN at the Hollywood Bowl; CANIBUS at the Knitting Factory; CLUB NOUVEAU, TAYLOR DAYNE, TRINERE, SAFIRE, PRETTY POISON, JOHNNY O at the Nokia Theatre; MICHELLE SHOCKED at McCabe’s; BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY at Club Nokia; WARPED TOUR 2009 at Fairplex (Pomona); ANI DIFRANCO at the Orpheum Theatre; CECIL BASTIDA at the Bootleg Theater; THE B-52s at the Canyon; XAVIER RUDD, JEREMY FISHER at House of Blues; JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; IT’S CASUAL, NICK OLIVERI, GUSTO, PROFESSOR, CHINGALERA at Relax Bar; ANAVAN, TPF, WET DREAMS, NEON NAVAJO, LACOSTE, I.E., NOT THE GOVERNMENT, BASTIDAS at the Smell.
SATURDAY, JUNE 27
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, NO AGE, ELUVIUM AT HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
You’d be hard-pressed to find a show of more epic proportions on this night or any other. Texas headliner Explosions in the Sky has earned its rep as one of the States’ fiercest distortion-wielding post-rock outfits (Austin serving Glasgow: 15–love) via a series of albums whose overarching timbre is “seething blanket of fiery-yet-awing doom.” The four-piece apparently prefers the phrase “cathartic minisymphonies,” and that too seems fair considering the wordless long-playing epics heard on albums like 2007’s glorious All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, carved as they are primarily from a drum kit and three electric guitars. Pair this with the two-man ambient punk machine that is L.A.’s own No Age, whose local shows have mostly been confined to character-laden clubs and atypical venues, and the newly renovated Palladium should be nicely roughened up when all’s said and done. Opener and EITS label-mate/remixer Eluvium hails from Portland and specializes in thick, impermeable atmosphere. (Chris Martins)
RODRIGUEZ, BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT AT HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
For decades, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez labored in obscurity as a construction worker in Detroit, no one vaguely aware that back in the day he had released two records now regarded as classics of American rock. The politically charged psychedelic folk of 1970’s Cold Fact has frequently been placed on a pedestal alongside the best of Love and even Bob Dylan. With the goal of creating the perfect pop album, Rodriguez recorded 1971’s Coming From Reality in London with several of that era’s prime rock heavies, including guitarist Chris Spedding and producer Steve Rowland (Pretty Things, PJ Proby). Unknown to Rodriguez, Cold Fact at some point got bootlegged and released in South Africa, where it became a huge sensation. This eventually led to his re-emergence as a performer, including at sold-out arena shows in South Africa. Both of these albums have now been re-released by Light in the Attic Records, sparking further joy in Rodriguez’s gritty, Detroit-soulful take on the savory pop pie. Wilderness mystics Brightblack Morning Light perform the steamily shimmering swamp gospel of their latest, Motion to Rejoin (Matador). (John Payne)
VNV NATION, WAR TAPES, AYRIA AT CLUB NOKIA
“California may have its stereotype image for so many but not for us,” said VNV Nation’s lead figure, Ronan Harris, recently, explaining the start of the group’s new tour for its latest album, Of Faith, Power and Glory, tonight. While the Irish-born, Hamburg-based Harris referred to his band’s regular return to the area and its noticeably passionate, varied L.A. fan base, it’s a description just as easily applied to VNV Nation itself. While the group’s origins in the 1990s lay with powerful industrial/dance efforts — a song like “Darkangel” can always be heard at almost any club featuring that style — in recent years VNV Nation’s increasingly majestic fusions of pop immediacy, punk-inspired exhortations, celebratory rave melodies and even gentle ballads have resulted in a stream of ever-more-memorable singles and albums. Of Faith, Power and Glory continues the pattern with ease, Harris’ warm rasp delivering lyrics of often-philosophical complexity in deceptively straightforward language, while instantly catchy songs like “The Great Divide” and “Where There Is Light” show that the band’s ear for a hook has sharpened. Recent VNV Nation live shows are even more of a rave-up in all senses of the term, percussionist Mark Jackson leading the musicians with his full-on drum-pad attacks while Harris works the crowd with both wit and full-throated commands to dance. But, Harris adds with a smile, he appreciates meeting Angelenos in particular for “having a fun chat about life, the universe and the price of tacos.” (Ned Raggett)
Also playing Saturday:
THE CONTOURS & SYLVESTER POTTS, JIMMY CLANTON, CLEVE DUNCAN & THE PENGUINS, THE VIBRATIONS, THE OLYMPICS, OTHERS at Gibson Amphitheatre; THE ZOMBIES, THE YARDBIRDS, THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP at the Wiltern; MARC COHN, KATIE HERZIG at the Canyon; TELEKINESIS, THE BOAT PEOPLE, ONE TRICK PONY at the Echoplex; A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, DRAMARAMA, WHEN IN ROME, GENE LOVES JEZEBEL at House of Blues; WENDY & LISA at Largo at the Coronet.
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
ADELE, ETTA JAMES, JANELLE MONÁE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
It might seem like the heights of chutzpah for Adele to headline over one of her idols — beyond-legendary blues-jazz diva Etta James — but the young British singer has a wonderfully intoxicating voice and exudes poise and wisdom that go beyond her years. Her songs are more sophisticated and less cautiously retro than Duffy’s, and she’s obviously not a train wreck like Amy Winehouse (although Adele did cancel a tour once so she could get drunk and pursue a boyfriend). She’s as convincing belting out modern R&B (“Chasing Pavements”) and stormy soul rock (“Many Shades of Black”) as she is confiding intimate ballads (“Hometown Glory”). Etta James’ stylistic range (and cultural impact) is certainly more expansive, whether she’s bopping her way around “Night and Day” or slowly unfolding “My Funny Valentine.” Despite a distressing tendency to indulge in brassy renditions of dopey rock tunes by the Eagles and Alice Cooper, James is still amazing when she has the right material, as on her 2006 album of standards, Love Songs. Opener Janelle Monáe launches the evening with comparatively manic and inventively arranged art-pop/new wave/funk psychedelia. She explodes like a comet in a dozen directions at once with so many different ideas and personalities, and all of them are fascinating. (Falling James)
DAT POLITICS, CAPTAIN AHAB, BATTLEHOOCH, FOOT VILLAGE AT THE SMELL
They once released an album called Taco Flirt, but the members of Lille, France’s DAT Politics shouldn’t be mistaken for on-album pranksters (nor for the similarly named and fast food–curious Das Racist). On the contrary, this trio creates a glitch-dance hybrid that’s earned the group not only comparisons to, but collaborations with artsy electronicists like Matmos, Kid 606 and Blevin Blectum. DAT Politics do infuse their hyperactive beat collages with a certain lightness and occasional humor (not to mention orchestral hits and blaring synth), which probably has a lot to do with why the live experience is so damn enjoyable. The night’s opening triptych should loosen things up if nothing else: Captain Ahab is the proud author of such irony-dripping, Right Said Fred–copping raps as “’Snakes on the Brain” and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Booty”; Battlehooch vacillate between spare, autumnal folk and spazzy Zappa punk; and Foot Village are, quite literally, a “drum ’n’ shout assembly.” (Chris Martins)
PHOENIX, AMAZING BABY AT THE WILTERN
Is 2009 the year of Phoenix? All signs point to oui: Though they’ve been releasing records for nearly a decade — check out their excellent 2000 debut, United — these ultrahip French dudes have only recently begun making big waves in the U.S., beginning with their out-of-left-field appearance in April on Saturday Night Live, nearly two full months before the release of their new one, the hilariously titled Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. As with their pals in Air and Daft Punk, Phoenix’s cool is of the effortlessly stylish variety; in tunes like “1901” and “Lisztomania,” frontman Thomas Mars (whose baby mama is director Sofia Coppola) floats his laid-back croon over gently percolating disco-rock arrangements that give musical meaning to the phrase “cruise control.” Yield to their charms and you’ll be glad you did. Openers Amazing Baby, from Brooklyn, are hipster-hippie psych-pop types from the MGMT mold. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Sunday:
ROCK ’N’ ROLL ’N’ RESCUE BENEFIT FEATURING RAINBOW ARABIA, VOICES VOICES, EXITMUSIC, POLYAMOROUS AFFAIR, OTHERS at the Echoplex; CURSIVE, MT. ST. HELENS VIETNAM BAND, BOX ELDERS at El Rey Theatre; ALLA PUGACHEVA at Gibson Amphitheatre; NECROPHAGIST WITH ENSIFERUM, SUFFOCATION, DARKEST HOURS, WINDS OF PLAGUE, DYING FETUS, BORN OF OSIRIS, ORIGIN, AFTER THE BURIAL, BLACKGUARD, OTHERS at the Grove of Anaheim; LOCAL NATIVES, SAINT MOTEL at the Echo (1 p.m.); RAY J, SHORTY MACK at the Key Club.
MONDAY, JUNE 29
MIKA MIKO, THE STRANGE BOYS AT THE SMELL
Here’s hoping a small chunk of downtown doesn’t explode tonight, as two of America’s most incendiary and promising guitar bands collide/converge on the Smell for a treble-punk extravaganza. We’re talking about Austin’s Strange Boys, first, whose new album on Burbank’s best record label, In the Red (and we include Warner Bros. among Burbank labels, for what it’s worth), The Strange Boys and Girls Club, merges catchy ’60s-era Brit Invasion structures and melodies with the swagger and scruff of Blonde on Blonde–era Bob Dylan. And L.A.’s own Mika Miko will celebrate the release of their great new album We Be Xuxa, released on No Ager Dean Spunt’s PPM label. Also performing are Cerebral Balzy and Protect Me. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Monday:
JOHN VANDERSLICE, THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH at the Troubadour; ED HARCOURT, THE LANGLEY SISTERS, NICOLE SIMONE at the Bordello; OLIVER FUTURE, CASXIO, ALL’S WRONG AND THE PLAN’S CHANGED, RADARS TO THE SKY at the Echo; VIENNA TENG, KATIE HERZIG, SALLY JAYE, JESSE HARRIS at the Hotel Café; DOUBLE DAGGER, THE CHOKE, LILY MARLENE, DALMACIO DIAMOND, ZOMBELLE at Women.
TUESDAY, JUNE 30
LESLIE & THE BADGERS, THE CHAPIN SISTERS AT SPACELAND
Just back from a national tour, local country-rock dreamers Leslie & the Badgers apparently have some big surprises planned for tonight’s show celebrating the release of their new CD, Roomful of Smoke. “Think Andy Kaufman, if he was a hot country singer in a summer dress. Yeah, it’s gonna be that fucking crazy,” promises the band’s MySpace page. The Badgers really do seem poised on the cusp of something exciting, with dramatic, romantic Dolly Parton–style tracks like “Winter Fugue,” where bandleader Leslie Stevens trills invitingly, “We’re going to lay around here till spring.” Elsewhere, she urges, “It’s okay to trip but don’t fall,” as her Badgers rally around her with roadhouse piano, acoustic folk guitar and old-timey music-hall backing vocals. What makes the songs magical is the way Stevens spruces up the retro country-pop settings with clear-eyed and thoughtfully incisive lyrics. The Chapin Sisters, meanwhile, specialize in blending their uniquely haunting voices on sad and lonely folk-pop ballads like “Kill Me Now” and “I Hate the Moon.” (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE STRANGE BOYS, SHIRLEY ROLLS, THE GROWLERS at the Echo; ERIC CLAPTON, STEVE WINWOOD at the Hollywood Bowl; CASSORLA, ALEX & SAM, ANGIE MATTSON at the Bootleg Theater; BEST COAST, MOTHFIGHT, SOFT BLACK, WEREWOLVES at Echo Curio; BOYS LIKE GIRLS, NEVER SHOUT NEVER, THE READY SET at the Knitting Factory.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 1
BILL CALLAHAN, BACHELORETTE AT THE TROUBADOUR
The artist formerly known as Smog, Bill Callahan used to churn out lo-fi four-track cassettes mostly about sitting alone in his room, mumbling in a distracted croak over amp noise and loops, sour guitars, and freeform song structures — great, morbid stuff, and he had a sly sense of humor about it. Further down the road apiece, however, Callahan has pushed an intensely personal roots-folk-country thing onto heavier turf, as in 2007’s Woke on a Whaleheart (Drag City), where he revealed himself as a songwriter of deftly off-the-cuff poetics and keen observational skill in impeccably drawn shades of densely coiled Americana. Amid rather lush and wide-screen instrumental settings that frame his beautifully plain baritone, Callahan’s new Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle is even weightier for its sweet, poignant reflections centered around a theme of sorts: Things used to be dark, then things lightened up, now things are getting dark again — but he’s come to an understanding with the darkness. From New Zealand, Callahan’s label mate Bachelorette has a wickedly unpretentious album out called My Electric Family, an upside-down electro-fied pop to make you happy. (John Payne)
Also playing Wednesday:
EULOGIES, BAD VEINS, AVI BUFFALO, A DECENT ANIMAL at the Echo; STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, KINGSIZE at House of Blues; FAR EAST MOVEMENT, BEARDO, CHRIS YOUNG, DR. HOLLYWOOD, DR. ROSEN ROSEN at the Roxy; FITZ & THE TANTRUMS at Spaceland.
THURSDAY, JULY 2
PLAYING FOR CHANGE BAND AT SANTA MONICA PIER
If you haven’t seen it already, Google “playing for change” and “Stand By Me.” A YouTube clip will pop up. Watch it unfold: A man named Roger Ridley introduces the song “Stand By Me,” and soon he’s playing it on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. His version alone is beautiful, but soon we fade to New Orleans, where another street singer, Grandpa Elliott, continues the song, with washboard accompaniment and Ridley’s little acoustic guitar line mixed in to create a cross-country collaboration. Cut to another street singer, this one in Amsterdam, who offers vocal counterpoint, the song building steam as instruments from street singers across the globe join in. It’s a chilling creation, this song, which by the end includes a Native American drum circle, a tambourine from France, a Brazilian ukulele player, a Russian cellist, a Congolese drummer and a South African vocal group. The video was envisioned and created by Grammy-winning producer/engineer Mark Johnson, who traveled the globe with a crew and recorded more than 100 musicians. The end result, a collection called Playing for Change, benefits street musicians and homeless populations around the world. A group of the street performers who created this song will play during the opening night of this year’s Twilight Dance Series at the Santa Monica Pier; the cause is awesome and the music, sublime. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Thursday:
SHE WANTS REVENGE at the Echoplex; BLACK MATH HORSEMAN, CITAY, THE DRY SPELLS at the Silverlake Lounge; AMAZING BABY, BAND OF SKULLS, DAZZLER at the Hammer Museum; JOHN FOGERTY at the Hollywood Bowl; WARPED TOUR 2009 at Seaside Park (Ventura)
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