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

See Thursday: Dean Wareham
See Thursday: Dean Wareham
Photo by Jacqueline Di Milia

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

Monday, June 16

Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato, ?Colbie Caillat
HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Titled "My Big Night Out," tonight's bill features mainstream pop performers including English vocalist Ed Sheeran, whose occasional falsetto phrasing and acoustic folk strumming are pleasantly enjoyable if terminally lightweight, especially in comparison with his R&B influences. Malibu diva Colbie Caillat is even frothier, with a pretty voice but not much to say lyrically on poppy early songs such as "Bubbly" and the recent piano ballad "Try." There seems to be a genuine heart at the heart of Demi Lovato's music, especially because the former Disney Channel star has been unafraid to publicly confront her issues of self-abuse and depression. Such vulnerability has started to seep into her lyrics, although the production and arrangement of recent songs like "Skyscraper" add an unfortunate veneer of distancing artifice. - Falling James

Tuesday, June 17

Crash Kings, A Million Billion Dying Suns
BOOTLEG HIFI
Everything old is new again - and loud again, too - on this double bill, thanks to two bands with their own overcranked take on the heavy hitters of '60s and '70s rock. Crash Kings are an L.A. band that replaced lead guitar with lead Clavinet - you know, the thing responsible for the particularly funky riff in Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" - and some truly exuberant stage presence, resulting in their own rabid version of Zeppelin-esque smashery. (Check "Hot Fire" for a persuasive example.) And A Million Billion Dying Suns - so named because how much heavier can you get? - are a ruthlessly psychedelic power trio, led by an effortless guitar shredder who's fluent in Hendrix. Besides an arsenal of crushing originals, they've got a showstopping cover of "Strawberry Letter 23" that sounds like Spacemen 3, Loop and Tame Impala all at once. - Chris Ziegler

Wednesday, June 18

Sage Francis
TROUBADOUR
"You gave me language as a gift," Sage Francis announces on "Thank You," from his upcoming album, Copper Gone. "I turned it against you/I was stupid, I was young/I was hanging by my Judas tongue," he confesses, turning his youthful arrogance into a belated form of redemption as he gives credit to an unnamed mentor. The Rhode Island rapper, who also runs hip-hop label Strange Famous Records, has always had mixed feelings about society and fame, as reflected in his three ambivalently titled albums for Epitaph Records: A Healthy Distrust, Human the Death Dance and Li(f)e. But even the Sage one isn't beyond the need for guidance: "I was ignorant, passed out on the spacebar. ... I'm an idiot, self-deprecating author. ... You edited the words from the grave and beyond." - Falling James

Thursday, June 19

Dean Wareham
THE ROXY
Dean Wareham is no performance rookie. Considered one of the original voices of American indie rock, Wareham started his career in 1987 with his band Galaxie 500. Nowadays, Wareham is on his own, having released the EP Emancipated Hearts late last year and his self-titled debut in March, produced by My Morning Jacket's Jim James. Known for a full, expansive style, the guitar sophisticate creates dream-pop in its purest form, with delicate guitar and drum combinations, simple melodies and romantic vocals. Fans of Wareham's extensive album catalog will rejoice in hearing that he has not limited his touring four-piece, including wife Britta Phillips, to recent material, but rather turns back the clock for a fragile take on tracks from Galaxie 500 and his other classic band, Luna. Local dreamers HOTT MT and Drug Cabin share the stage for an evening of timeless instrumentation. - Britt Witt

Billy Hart Quartet
BLUE WHALE
Drummer Billy Hart has worked with genuine jazz legends for decades, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Shirley Horn, Wes Montgomery and Stan Getz, among many others. Hart's assembled his own quartet for a nationwide early-summer tour, which concludes with two nights at Little Tokyo's Blue Whale. Hart is joined here by a group that includes bassist Ben Street, former Palos Verdes saxophonist Mark Turner and the highly regarded pianist Ethan Iverson, best known for his work as a member of the Bad Plus. The quartet has recorded two albums for the ECM label over the past three years as they continue to showcase a major, multi-generational exchange of musical ideas. Also Friday, June 20. - Tom Meek

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

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