The Best Concerts in L.A. This Weekend
Friday, February 8
Chelsea Wolfe, Sarah Jaffe
In the past, Chelsea Wolfe's dark folk songs have often been deepened with a hard-rocking, psychedelic veneer, but on the Sacramento native's latest album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, her mournful plaints and desolate ballads are stripped down and carried out to sea on the wings of soft guitars and austere violins and violas. Wolfe's contemplative music is just as beautiful now, but it's simultaneously starker and grander with the addition of Andrea Calderon's eerie tendrils of violin slithering through the sadness. "The only thing I've ever trusted was the trees," Wolfe murmurs amid the welling strings of "Flatlands," a pastoral reverie too soulfully yearning to be merely escapist. Texas singer Sarah Jaffe is another nominal folkie whose intimate balladry and piercingly personal lyrics are arranged into wintry, compulsively mesmerizing soundscapes. --Falling James
Off!, Negative Approach
Before surrounding himself with the Circle Jerks in 1979, Keith Morris was the first, and arguably best, of the four Black Flag singers, so you can't blame him for wanting to reclaim his legacy with the new project Flag, in which he reunites with former Black Flag members Chuck Dukowski and Bill Stevenson and The Descendents' Stephen Egerton to blast the ancient hits. But it's in Morris' other new project, Off!, that the dreadlocked warrior draws upon that early punk inspiration and places it in a fresh and creatively relevant context. Off! is a supergroup of sorts, with the terminally manic and energetic Morris backed by Redd Kross bassist Steven McDonald, Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coats and former pro skater/drummer Mario Rubalcaba. Songs like "Wiped Out" combine the short, fast intensity of early punk with the fulsome power of hard-rock explosiveness. John Brannon barks out orders with his revamped Detroit combo Negative Approach, one of the Midwest's key early-'80s hardcore iconoclasts. --Falling James
The Flytraps, Smelly Tongues
The Flytraps have been knocking people dead at their live shows for a good long time now, but finally we've gotten the long-awaited vinyl debut of this four-piece girls-in-the-garage band. It's on a four-way split 7-inch compilation from local label Sick City, and The Flytraps do their high-octane, Cramps-in-a-car-crash-with-Billy-Child-ish thing alongside tracks by fellow L.A. wild people Death Hymn #9, The Ugly Kids and the supremely screamin' Cigarette Bums. This is trashy, nasty stuff in all the best ways. The name says it all: The Flytraps wanna eat you alive. With Smelly Tongues, the newish L.A. band that shares its name with a Residents song and includes members of the noted and notorious Piranhas, as well as The Red Aunts and Detroit's maniacal Demolition Doll Rods. --Chris Ziegler
Seasoned songwriter, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and deejay Vikter Duplaix has collaborated with some of music's most celebrated artists -- in fact, it's a fateful friendship with respected Philly deejay-producer King Britt that convinced Duplaix to expand his horizons and venture into the dance/house genres. In 2005, Duplaix established the Los Angeles-based "Kiss 'n' Grind" party with DJs Garth Trinidad (of KCRW) and Rashida. The long-running monthly wrapped a star-studded East Coast tour in December. "Make a Baby," from Duplaix's sophomore release, Bold and Beautiful, scored a Grammy nomination in 2008 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. Details about a forthcoming solo project are hard to come by, so tonight's attendees best be ready for anything. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Saturday, February 9
With her second album, Halcyon, Ellie Goulding continues to pump up her tunes with full-blown dance-pop arrangements while also trying to preserve the delicate, fairy tale-like worldview that underpinned her 2010 debut, Lights. Sometimes the slick production and shiny backing threaten to overwhelm the endearing exuberance at the heart of the British songstress's music. Ultimately, however, her cheery vocals burn through the layers of fog and gauzy electronics on tracks like "Explosions" and "My Blood" before giving way to the unbridled optimism of such songs as "Anything Could Happen" and the aptly titled "Joy." While her music obviously isn't as adventurous as the dense workouts of her ex-boyfriend, Skrillex, Goulding's songs have catchier hooks and a lot more heart. Also Tuesday at the Hollywood Palladium. --Falling James
B.o.B, Trinidad Jame$
Georgian rapper B.o.B possesses the ability to transition from rap to perfectly blended vocal harmonies, often even as he's stepping behind the piano or picking up a guitar. Stylistically his work includes bass-heavy and aggressive tracks, acoustic island styles and up-tempo pop. Collaborating with artists like Rivers Como and T.I. while sampling everything from funky Led Zeppelin guitar hooks to soulful Sam Cooke tracks, his versatility seems endless. In just five years he's amassed enough radio-friendly tunes to fill an entire night -- think "Airplanes" and the endlessly sellable "Nothin' on You" -- but there's sure to be a collection of B-sides and deep cuts in his set as well. With Def Jam Recordings artist Trinidad Jame$. --Diamond Bodine-Fischer
Murder Death Kill
When Murder Death Kill opens "Abomination," from 2011's Instigate Infiltrate Annihilate, with the line "Nothing is changing, everything remains the same," the Victorville quintet -- unwittingly or otherwise -- becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Harkening back to 1990s hardcore's drop-tuned, chuggy riffs and migraine-inducing breakdowns, with the slight twist of twin (brutish and more brutish) vocals, Murder Death Kill is a belligerent audio headbutt spiked with depressingly reactionary imagery. The videos for both "Abomination" and "Suffocation" depict the band members and their buddies beating the blood out of vastly outnumbered victims, which only undermines what are otherwise convincingly cathartic slabs of fear-fueled urban fury and, in just minutes, encapsulate all that is good and bad about tough-guy hardcore. Also Sunday at Aladdin Jr., Pomona. --Paul Rogers
Sunday, February 10
Paul Peress Project
NYC-based drummer Paul Peress has backed a range of acts from The B-52's to Tom Scott. Tonight he makes an infrequent L.A. stop leading a band at the Baked Potato in Studio City. Peress typically surrounds himself with fine players, with tonight's supporting cast deserving of extra attention. In addition to bassist Ernest Tibbs III, Peress brings together for the first time two often under-the-radar musical titans in guitarist Mike Miller and keyboardist Deron Johnson. Miller's career includes a stint with the Chick Corea Elektric Band and the fabulous Zappa tribute band Banned From Utopia, while Johnson was the last musician Miles Davis hired, touring with him before Miles' death in 1991. Miller almost always knows the right note to play, while Johnson oozes funk from seemingly every pore. Expect an earfest. --Tom Meek
3787 Cahuenga Blvd. W.
Studio City, CA 91604
6655 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
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