The Best Concerts to See In L.A. This Week

Julia Holter -- See Wednesday
Julia Holter -- See Wednesday
Rick Bahto

Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar

Monday, September 9



Wild times in the world of Pixies -- original bassist Kim Deal is out, Kim Shattuck is in and all those people in L.A. who had Muffs and Pixies stickers on their hatchbacks/guitar cases/bedroom mirrors are just losing their minds. Plus there's the promise of plenty of new songs coming soon, with a just-like-old-times single called "Bagboy" available now to prove that this isn't all some crazy dream. And not only that: Black Francis promises this Pixies tour is gonna be bursting with never-performed rarities. (Let's use the power of L.A. Weekly right now to request ... "The Thing!") Although it will break a tiny piece from my heart when there's no Kim Deal to intro "Tony's Theme," this could -- speaking sentimentally and scientifically -- be the best time yet to love the Pixies. (Also Sept. 10-11 at the El Rey and Sept. 12 at the Mayan.) --Chris Ziegler



Pangea have a new hit and it goes, "My dick izzzzz soffffft/these things mean nothing to meeeeeee!" However, if you've seen them do that one live, you can tell those things mean plenty to everyone singing along -- the kids aren't all right, but turns out they don't give a shit anyway. Newly graduated from Burger to the storied Harvest Records -- making them labelmates with Can, and surely paving the way for Sam Flax to come up next -- Pangea are about to make their play for world domination or at least world contamination, with Weezer-y punk-pop riffs with Angry Samoans fuck-you-itude, which is probably what Weezer wanted to do all along anyway. It's raw, it's snotty, it's bloody at the edges ... it's every word the front-desk people at your local urgent care are tired of hearing, and that should make Pangea very proud. --Chris Ziegler

The Zombies


There are many ongoing variations of '60s rock bands, but only a handful retain the spirit of their heyday. Some of these groups feature few, if any, original members, while others simply sound tired and irrelevant when trotting out their creaky oldies in a modern setting. And then there are The Zombies, who are still startlingly energetic and full of surprises nearly 50 years after the release of their first big hit, "She's Not There," in 1964. Much of the reason for the British band's eternal appeal is that songs like "Time of the Season" still sound fresh, even as they evoke a vanished era. The reconstituted Zombies feature original singer Colin Blunstone and nimble keyboardist Rod Argent, and their musical chops are, if anything, even tighter than ever. They continue to challenge themselves with memorable new material on recent albums like Breathe Out, Breathe In, while mixing in the hits and obscurities from their extensive combined careers. The duo also performs an acoustic set at McCabe's on Thursday, Sept. 12, and a full-band show at the Satellite on Friday, Sept. 13. --Falling James

Tuesday, September 10

Happy Hollows

Happy Hollows were gone for too long, but they're back now with Amethyst, a second album that's more like a second coming. They've got a new lineup (they lost Chris Hernandez and picked up artful guitarist Matt Fry, of Long Beach's Soft Hands) and an extremely new sound that trades (most of) their indie guitar-shred for synth after synth after synth. Producer Lewis Pesacov (Fool's Gold, Best Coast) has helped the Hollows design some serious sci-fi here -- a star is born, but in the celestial sense, not the showbiz one. When I say this sounds like Psychedelic Furs with She's So Unusual Cyndi Lauper up front -- or like Stevie Nicks getting heavy into Kate Bush -- that's for sure a compliment. This is pop, sure, but pop with plenty of secrets at work deep within each song. --Chris Ziegler


Wednesday, September 11

George Benson


There are two legendary instrumentalists who became iconic singers for the ages. One was pianist Nat King Cole and the second is George Benson, whose exceptional jazz guitar career was somewhat derailed when "This Masquerade" catapulted him to platinum-record pop stardom. Cole and Benson considered themselves instrumentalists first, but there is no turning back if your voice can enthrall millions. Benson has finally recorded an homage to Cole, Inspiration -- A Tribute to Nat King Cole, who was his boyhood idol (as evidenced by the inclusion of an 8-year-old little Georgie singing "Mona Lisa"). Cole's singing must be ingrained deep within Benson's psyche, for you could almost mistake the latter for the former on this record. Tonight, the legends fuse live onstage at the Hollywood Bowl. --Gary Fukushima

The Moondoggies


Seattle combo Moondoggies' Americana-smoked eclectica is a chancey sort of nice -- you needn't dig into it so much as just let it hang around a while. With familiarity, its easy charm becomes a new best pal you really miss when it's gone. The band's new album, Adios I'm a Ghost (Hardly Art), is packed with these dudes' open-minded takes on everything from rough-hewn boogie rock to sing-along hoedowns to surfy rockers to epic, folk-laced symphonies framing darkish lyrical themes -- all of which gets swiftly yanked out of mopey-dopey land when the 'Doggies slam us all back earthwise with some singular slice of stomping party sounds. Cock your ears, best of all, for this band's primo three- and four-part vocal harmonies, some of the best in the biz. --John Payne

Julia Holter


Local songwriter and CalArts graduate Julia Holter comes from an artistic and academic background, but her experience and training, rather than making her music sound mannered and premeditated, instead open up new passageways of creativity. No matter how you approach them, the songs from Holter's deceptively titled third album, Loud City Song, are quietly beautiful, gently moving idylls. Her fragile vocals float over the icy soundscape of "World" with a refined delicacy as a wave of orchestral strings washes sympathetically over her. The rhythms pick up a little on "In the Green Wild," where Holter's intricate weave of voices and harmonies recalls the baroque art-pop of Kate Bush and Jesca Hoop. Most of the time, however, Holter's subtle, contemplative songs, which move stirringly from folk and classical influences to an almost-jazzy expansiveness, sound completely unique. --Falling James

See also: Julia Holter Dims the Noise

Thursday, September 12

Jimmy Cliff


The seaside location of tonight's concert is all the more fitting since images of water course throughout Jimmy Cliff's starring role in, and soundtrack contributions to, the classic Jamaican reggae film The Harder They Come. Even as Cliff's character, the struggling gangster/singer Ivanhoe Martin, resorts to ever more desperate and violent acts, the cool blue of the ocean surrounding the island serves as a soothing, spiritual contrast to the blood that begins to flow. Intoxicatingly languid original songs like "Sitting in Limbo" further sharpen the contrast between the tropical-paradise setting and the real-world poverty Martin is trying to escape. One of the soundtrack's most memorable ballads, "Many Rivers to Cross," also involves a watery spiritual cleansing. Since finding fame in the film, Cliff has spent much of the ensuing decades crossing many large rivers and oceans, only to find that his site-specific search for identity has taken on a worldwide resonance. --Falling James

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