Rock Picks: Riot Girl Carnival, Miniature Tigers, Death Cab for Cutie, Deer Tick
FRIDAY, JULY 3
Infinity, Priss at Spaceland
Irony alert: Spaceland, which plays host to some of the city’s best indie and post-indie rock shows, will Give the People What They Want tonight when two cover bands offer eye-winking performances of Kiss and Journey songs. We just coined that term — Post-Indie — by the way, and will figure out exactly what we mean by that in the near future. Perhaps the definition of Post-Indie will comprise transcending irony and long-tail theory to create a music that kowtows to the People, that uncovers those basest of musical desires — melody, chorus, lyrical platitudes, clichés aplenty — and offers them honestly, sans irony, with great enthusiasm and without fear of embarrassment or hipster dismissal. Like Journey, and Kiss, two bands of the ’70s/’80s that will outlive a million Clap Your Hands Say Yeahs. So Infinity is a female-fronted tribute to Journey; maybe you can imagine what that will sound like. And Priss is a female-fronted tribute to Kiss, and maybe you can imagine what that will sound like. There are fake mustaches involved, apparently. And fake beards. And “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” and “Beth” and “Any Way You Want It.” Sound dubious? Come on: It’s Fourth of July weekend, the perfect time to celebrate America in all its basest glory. (Randall Roberts)
John Fogerty at the Hollywood Bowl
John Fogerty’s music is as American as baseball and apple pie, and it should provide a fitting soundtrack for this holiday-weekend fireworks celebration. His populist solo songs and earlier work with Creedence Clearwater Revival have proved to be timelessly evocative snapshots of a vanishing rural Americana, influencing mainstream singers like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger as well as such underground musicians as Lydia Lunch and the Gun Club. Despite his generally sunny optimism, Fogerty is also capable of unexpectedly stinging social commentary, whether he’s decrying how the upper class avoided the draft during the Vietnam War in CCR’s “Fortunate Son” or casting a skeptical look at George Bush’s reasons for invading Iraq in 2004’s “Déjà Vu (All Over Again).” He’s been fairly prolific in the past decade (after dropping out of sight through much of the ’70s and ’80s due to his notorious, creativity-sapping legal battles with a former label boss), and he’s preparing to release a new CD of country-music covers, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, the long-awaited sequel to his 1973 one-man-band album, The Blue Ridge Rangers. He’ll be backed tonight for a few songs by the L.A. Philharmonic, although it’s debatable whether Fogerty’s trademark streamlined tunes need much gussying up. Also Sat. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
KILLSONIC, BEATNIK JR., VANPRASTA, ANGELS & DEMONS at the Troubadour; CACTUS PRICKS, THE STABBINGS, SIOUX CITY PETE & THE BEGGARS, THE CRYSTELLES at American Legion Post 206; PENTAGRAM, NACHTMYSTIUM, INTRONAUT, RADIO MOSCOW at House of Blues; ONE TRICK PONY, EMA & THE GHOSTS, THE SLEEPING BAGS, VOICES VOICES, SEASONS at Mr. T’s Bowl; BACTERIA CULT, ANDORKAPPEN, XDUGEF, KAWAIIETLY PLEASE at the Smell.
SATURDAY, JULY 4
Riot Girl Carnival with The Potential Lunatics, Mermaid, A Pretty Mess at the Smell
Last year’s Christmastime benefit for the Downtown Women’s Center brought a grip of all-girl and mostly-girl bands to the Smell for a noble cause — but this time the benefit comes with more variety, a welcome diversion from December’s show that packed in mostly hardcore screamers (with the exception of Anus Kings, who are here again this time). The Potential Lunatics, for example, are siblings (not in the Meg and Jack way) Emma and Isaac Simons-Araya, who are 13 and 11 years old, respectively. Emma and Isaac throw down fierce, melody-driven power pop and occasionally play all-acoustic sets. Mermaid bring their underager rager chic from San Diego’s East County, rocking their brand of huggable hardcore in homemade clothes and feminist ennui. A Pretty Mess’s tight sonic brutality hearkens back to L7’s Smell the Magic days. These four Valley girls force-feed a less political bent than the others, pummeling the crowd without chipping any of their glossy black nail polish in the process. Plus they do a wicked version of “Cherry Bomb.” (Wendy Gilmartin)
Deer Tick, Dawes at Spaceland
Providence, Rhode Island, is the birthing place of many peculiarly varied bands, for some damn reason. Why, there’s Talking Heads, Black Dice and Lightning Bolt, and how about Wendy Carlos, Bill Conti, the Cowsills, Tavares and the towering giants John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band? Now add to that illustrious list Deer Tick, the for-a-new-Americana project of musical prodigy/Hank Williams–obsessive John McCauley III. Following the 2007 War Elephant album — an entirely McCauley-performed affair that blew critical minds internationally — the new Born on Flag Day (Partisan) is Deer Tick’s second full-length of skewed tributes to a country tradition gone terribly wrong, rusting rootsily in a Dylanesque haze of folky strum and road-weary harmonica wheeze. The now fully manned Deer Tick frame the snarly twangs of this howling hayseed McCauley in provocative scrapings-off of the old country crud, sometimes thrashing desperately, more often inspiring deeply with the simple, stately strokes of their playing, and McCauley’s sweatily earnest commitment to the music, times and places he’s loved, hated and survived. (John Payne)
Hootenanny at Oak Canyon Ranch
The Hootenanny festival has always been a weirdly enduring marriage of convenience, pairing the occasional authentic roots-rock pioneer with a horde of latter-day retro wannabes — leaving it up to you to see if you can tell the difference. As such, fashion often trumps musical creativity, but the bookers usually land just enough demented visionaries (such as the Cramps and Little Richard) to counterbalance the dispiriting swarm of look-alike, sound-alike nouveau tattooed-love-boy “rebel” rockers. While many of this year’s lesser bands are only interested in playing Sha Na Na/Elvis Presley dress-up (complete with hokey, bogus Southern accents), headliners like Los Lobos remind us that it’s still possible to dig genuine soulful warmth and passionate, lyrical immediacy out of these old, dusty roots-rock archetypes. While the Danish ska-pop-rockabilly band HorrorPops aren’t as deep or musically adventurous as Los Lobos, singer Patricia Day brings some much-needed feminine spirit to this testosterone-heavy affair. Pumping her big standup bass, Day belts out charismatic tales of love, heartbreak and revenge with a majestic voice that sometimes approaches the moody grandeur of Siouxsie Sioux. Keeping it all in the family, her guitarist-husband, Kim Nekroman, leads his psychobilly group Nekromantix through their own set of souped-up roots-punk savagery. 5300 Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado Canyon. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE, THE DUANE PETERS GUNFIGHT, JAKKED RABBITS at the Roxy; THE ITALS at Saint Rocke; LILLIAN AXE, LAMOUR, THE STRIPT at the Viper Room.
SUNDAY, JULY 5
Death Cab for Cutie, Tegan & Sara, New Pornographers at the Hollywood Bowl
You’ve gotta give props to the Hollywood Bowl’s programming staff for waiting ’til now to book Death Cab for Cutie for a one-off with the L.A. Phil: For over a decade, these sad-eyed Seattle-ites have been making supremely melancholy indie-pop records, any one of which would’ve benefited tidily (and predictably) from orchestral support. But with its unruly guitar fuzz, urgent rhythmic throb and prog-appropriate track lengths, last year’s Narrow Stairs represented a bit of a break from the band’s proven wimp-rock formula; I’m not exactly expecting “Kashmir” tonight, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Phil (playing arrangements by Beck’s dad, David Campbell) finds a way into the group’s noisier, knottier sound. Tegan and Sara took a similar left turn on their latest, 2007’s The Con, which the Canadian twin sisters made with Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla; it’s a kind of art-folk deconstruction of their earlier neo-new-wave stuff. They’re currently at work on a follow-up with Walla that’s reportedly due out this fall. No word on when we can expect a new one from the New Pornographers, who also hail from the Great White North. Frontman Carl Newman released his second solo disc, Get Guilty, in January, so maybe he used up all his fresh tunes. In any event, the Pornos boast one of indie’s most exuberant songbooks — they won’t have any trouble filling their opening set with delights tonight. (Mikael Wood)
Stacey Q at the Airliner
Stacey Q is the voice of Southern California dance music. Her work with early-’80s seminal synth-pop groups Q and SSQ made her a darling of the then-burgeoning electronic underground, but it was the international pop hit “Two of Hearts,” released in 1986, for which the Orange County native is best known. With its sputtering hook, “I-I-I-I-I need you,” the song outlived the hi-NRG era, remaining a staple of house parties and clubs. But, for those who only know the hit, we suggest checking her earlier synth gems. Her breathy melodies from Q/SSQ-era tracks like “Playback,” “Video Girl” and “Big Electronic Beat” lay the groundwork for the club sound of the early ’00s emanated by artists like Miss Kittin and the Hacker and Ladytron. Stacey Q is currently finishing work on the forthcoming album Color Me Cinnamon, the title a reference to her stint on The Facts of Life. (Liz Ohanesian)
Also playing Sunday:
THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS at Amoeba Music, 6 p.m.; CROCODILES, THE MEEK, LOWER HEAVEN at the Echo; VOKO, FRANK FAIRFIELD, HOMESICK ELEPHANT, TRIPLE CHICKEN FOOT at Echo Curio.
MONDAY, JULY 6
Miniature Tigers at Spaceland
Miniature Tigers sing about shrunken heads, hot venom, fake blood and cannibal queens. It might make you think that the band serves up White Zombie–style horror metal; however, the Phoenix-bred Tigers live amongst the Weezers and Fountain of Waynes of the rock world. Their superb debut disc, Tell It to Volcano, overflows with catchy, clever tunes, from the aforementioned “Cannibal Queen” to other killer gems like “The Wolf” and “Dino Damage.” Frontman Charlie Brand has a wonderful way of giving his lovelorn lyrics an extra bite with his cheeky (but not overly precious) phrase-turning. The album opens with the delightful couplet “This is not a test or an SOS/I’m no longer on a quest to get girls undressed,” which feels both self-deprecatingly comic and honestly heartfelt. More than just a one-man show, the group injects its hooky tunes with enough quirks to avoid being too twee, deconstructed or by-the-book. With a captivating mix of quick-witted melodies and sharp-tongued lyrics, the Miniature Tigers are a power-pop animal that’s easy to love. Andy Clockwise also performs, beginning his month-long Monday-night residency. (Michael Berick)
Also playing Monday:
JACKIE TOHN, AMIE MIRIELLO, KIM DIVINE at the Hotel Café; LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO, EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, GLOBES at the Silverlake Lounge; JAPANESE MOTORS, MY PET SADDLE at the Echo.
TUESDAY, JULY 7
Vieux Farka Touré at the Troubadour
Malian guitarist-singer Vieux Farka Touré is the son of the late guitar great Ali Farka Touré, the man who drew the world’s ears toward West Africa’s deep connections with the blues of the Mississippi Delta. The younger Vieux takes his explorations further afield, drawing from the American and British heavy-rock and drum-’n’-bass scenes and especially the easy flow of Jamaican dub and reggae-related styles. His new album, Fondo (Six Degrees), finds Touré displaying his considerable and bracingly cliché-free electric-guitar chops in reverbed realms ornamented with traditional textures from talking drum, chanted choruses and the harplike kora, the latter provided by Touré’s mentor Toumani Diabate. When they’re not simply burning with polyrhythmic intensity, Touré’s self-written tunes on Fondo are graced with a meditative, intimate vibe whose soothingly aerified feel owes much to their often miraculously spare instrumental settings. But look out, because he’s liable to sneak up and karate-chop you with that fiery guitar. Africa rocks, should you have wondered, and here’s the proof. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE HOLD STEADY, THE BRONX at El Rey Theatre; YES, ASIA at the Gibson Amphitheatre; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE, UKULELE LOKI, KLAUS KNOMI, PETROJVIC BLASTING CO. at the Bordello; FRITZ HELDER & THE PHANTOMS at Cinespace.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8
Watts Ensemble at the Bootleg Theater
Drummer Brian Watson supposedly launched the Watts Ensemble on a dare, waging whether he could not only write cohesive music for 10 or so players, but also recruit and retain them. In a city as diverse as L.A., Watson knew they were out there, but the real challenge was where to find them. Months of Craig’s List ads (seeking those mutually interested in Stravinsky, Devo and the Coltranes), friend-to-friend references and music-store leads steadily built an amalgamated mutt of an outfit, but a smart and sassy one too, and tight as a drum — even though, at times, the Charles Mingus influence is overshadowing. Mostly it’s a blast to see and hear a live, knowledgeable ensemble like this onstage. At times the sounds are low — meandering flutes and winds, soothing-to-nonexistent strings, and just one waning refrain the only connection to the larger piece of work. Then, just like that, the bottom and bass rattle back in, motivated by Mingus’ Pithecanthropus Erectus stumble and inspired by the cinematic hues of Taxi Driver’s nighttime drives. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Wednesday:
DIONNE WARWICK at the Grammy Museum; THE OLD 97’S, RHETT MILLER, MURRAY HAMMOND at the Henry Fonda Theater; LMFAO, HYPER CRUSH, DJ CLASS, FAR EAST MOVEMENT, SKEET SKEET, CHRIS YOUNG at the Canyon; MIKA MIKO, TY SEGALL at the Smell; LITTLE GHOST, MORPHINE & CUPCAKES at Taix.
THURSDAY, JULY 9
Joan Baez, Tift Merritt at Santa Monica Pier
There’s something kind of wonderful about the thought of hearing folk icon Joan Baez’s pure and mighty voice completely unbridled, with only the ceiling of the sky above to contain it. Of course, that powerful weapon is sometimes her biggest downfall, as well as her greatest strength. With pipes that strong, she has a tendency to oversing, giving a needlessly operatic oomph to folk songs that usually require a starker simplicity. Luckily, Steve Earle kept that in mind when he produced Baez’s recent CD, Day After Tomorrow, toning down the volume in favor of subtler, more intuitive interpretations of haunting songs by Patty Griffin and Tom Waits. North Carolina singer Tift Merritt rocks it up a little harder than Baez, with the occasional digression into artful balladry. While Merritt is considered a country stylist, she also has a good feel for Dusty Springfield–style pop and Stax-y R&B workouts. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
ABC, BERLIN, WANG CHUNG, HEAVEN 17, CUTTING CREW at the Gibson Amphitheatre; EVEREST, RED CORTEZ at the Hammer Museum; STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE THREE, THE URINALS at the Echo; DUSTY RHODES & THE RIVER BAND, THESE UNITED STATES, OLIN & THE MOON at the Echoplex; YOU ME & IOWA, THE DAMSELLES, OAK & GORSKI, RACHEL GOODRICH, SARA ROBERT at the Hotel Café.
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