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

See Thursday: Jesika Von Rabbit
See Thursday: Jesika Von Rabbit
Photo by Marina Chavez

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

Monday, July 7

Cher, Cyndi Lauper
STAPLES CENTER
If you can look past Cher’s celebrity marriages, a generally rewarding film career and the distracting and virtually invisible architecture of her infamous Bob Mackie dresses, you might recall that the former Cherilyn Sarkisian was once a legitimately influential musical force and a pretty groovy singer. Many of her early tunes with former musical partner Sonny Bono, such as “Baby Don’t Go” and “Needles and Pins,” have aged better than more recent and bombastic solo hits such as “Believe.” Cher is at her best when she ditches the artifice — aside from those fantastic Mackie creations — and strips down the songs with her mournful voice. She could learn a lot from Cyndi Lauper, who has reinvented herself as a Memphis soul-blues diva while still reveling in the euphoric giddiness of her ’80s heyday. Also at the Honda Center, Wednesday, July 9. —Falling James

Tuesday, July 8

KISS/Def Leppard
THE FORUM
With all of their extracurricular activities, which include owning an AFL football team and a chain of restaurants, it’s surprising that KISS have any time left for music. Yet this summer, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and company will be hitting the road to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. Amidst much fanfare, 2014 has so far seen Stanley release a semi-biting autobiography and the rockers get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, albeit only in their original form. Offstage antics aside, the quartet will be kicking off its fifth decade in style. With Def Leppard opening, the show will feature all of the theatrics of a classic KISS concert, and thus will be one of the most explosive, hardest-rockin’ dates of the summer. —Daniel Kohn

Cloud Nothings
THE ROXY
Clevelander Dylan Baldi deserves more credit than he’s getting from critics who think his music sounds like Blink-182. That chunk of Ohio put out some of the best American punk music ever, and if you dig back into his history with his band, Cloud Nothings, you’ll find Baldi repping for (and referencing) such Cle-punks as The Clocks, The Pagans, Rocket From the Tombs and more. Alien punk, basically, made by people trapped on this planet with no way out, which is what’s happening on Cloud Nothings’ latest, Here and Nowhere Else. It’s a happy/sad, post-adolescent, rock ’n’ wreck album built from Wipers-style hooks, deadpan Dinosaur Jr. desolation and that part on the first Replacements LP where Paul snarls, “The way I used to love you/That’s the way I hate you now!” In short: He’s on fire, just like the Cuyahoga River. Also Wednesday, July 9. —Chris Ziegler

 

Wednesday, July 9

Charlie Wadhams, ?Leslie Stevens
SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
Just a few years ago, Leslie Stevens was this city’s best and brightest new alt-country singer. Fronting Leslie & the Badgers, she cooed and trilled with a birdlike loveliness and intricacy, which evoked Dolly Parton, but her folk-pop songs were too rooted in the here and now to come off as merely quaint nostalgia. Whether she’s backed by the Badgers, duetting with other singers or performing on her own, Stevens always blends heartfelt soul and intelligence with delicately homespun phrasing, turning the often-tired Americana genre into something that feels new. Former Rex Aquarium leader Charlie Wadhams strums quietly reflective songs such as “Out at the Bar” with soothing harmonies and restless imagery. He has worked with Priscilla Ahn and Benji Hughes, and two of his coolly evocative original songs appeared in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. —Falling James

Thursday, July 10

Wye Oak
EL REY THEATRE
Wye Oak conjures an unusually full and mesmerizing sound considering the Baltimore group is just a duo composed of singer-guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer Andy Stack. But Stack helps stack their songs with other layers of mystery when he somehow simultaneously plays drums and keyboards onstage. Wasner belies the title of the pair’s fourth album, Shriek, with dreamy contrails of singing that drift into Stack’s cloud bank of keyboards. “I woke up on the floor thinking I have never dreamed before,” she confides. “I tell you stories, but truth be told/I can’t remember what came before.” Bereft of memory and past expectations, Wasner gazes out across the hazy soundscapes of “The Tower” and “Schools of Eyes” with a newfound sense of openness. —Falling James

Jesika Von Rabbit
VIPER ROOM
Jesika Von Rabbit is perhaps California’s ultimate postmodern, intergalactic pop provocateur. First thrust upon this unsuspecting world as co-founder of groundbreaking freakno rock oddballs Gram Rabbit, the buxotic blonde vixen became such an inescapable force in her Joshua Tree–adjacent headquarters that she even has her own menu item (Nachos Von Rabbit) available at cosmic desert honky-tonk Pappy and Harriet’s. Now operating as her own free agent, Von Rabbit’s solo assault comes in the form of a characteristically sizzling, celestial psych-disco sound — with wildly redefined versions of songs by everyone from The Dickies to Garth Brooks — while the kinetic stage presentation is significantly enhanced by a writhing trio of dancers. After you flip, trip and slip down this rabbit hole, you’ll never want to come back. —Jonny Whiteside

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

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