The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Week
See Thursday: Sylvan Esso
Photo courtesy of Partisan Records
Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!
Monday, August 18
Gabrielle Wortman is best known as the voice of the electronic combo TEMP3ST, but when she’s paired with Honor Society keyboardist Jason Rosen in side project Smoke Season, she reveals newfound elements of folk and Americana in her songs. Even so, Smoke Season aren’t strictly traditional rustic revivalists, juxtaposing eerie roots rambles such as “Badlands” with more ethereal, electronic-pop interludes such as “Opaque.” On the duo’s new EP, Hot Coals Cold Souls, Rosen crafts a shiny soundscape of dance-pop grooves and shifting electronics on such tracks as “Simmer Down,” where Wortman coos yearningly like a guileless and sincere version of Madonna. Since her 2006 solo debut, The Secret Life of Gabby, Wortman has taken parts of her myriad influences and reconfigured them each time into a newly pleasing, potentially commercial variation. —Falling James
Tuesday, August 19
A Tribute to The Replacements with The Henry Clay People
If there’s one rock band that’s impossible to imitate, it’s The Replacements. Plenty of bands have been influenced by the Minneapolis alt-rockers and followed in their gloriously sodden wake, but precious few come anywhere near to approximating Paul Westerberg’s notoriously self-lacerating wit and morosely hopeful worldview. Tonight’s bill, the latest in a series of free tribute nights at the Satellite, would initially appear to be an exercise in futility, emphasizing yet again how irreplaceable The Replacements really are. On the other hand, the lineup is headlined by The Henry Clay People, the local group who come closest to evoking the ’Mats idiosyncratic combination of rude power-pop chords and sardonic lyrics. They also feature a pair of battling brothers, with singer Joey Siara’s world-weary words slammed home by the force of Andy Siara’s impatient guitars. —Falling James
Wednesday, August 20
Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On with John Legend, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Legend teams with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and American funk darlings Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings to perform Marvin Gaye’s highly political 1971 concept album, What’s Going On, in its entirety. The timely masterpiece, for which Motown founder Berry Gordy initially expressed disdain, discussed structural inequality, corruption of American social institutions, the Vietnam War, police brutality and racism, among other social ills. During the year of its release, about 60 percent of Americans were against the Vietnam War. Jones and Legend will open tonight’s show with some of the most memorable duets Gaye did with longtime collaborator Tammi Terrell. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Thursday, August 21
SANTA MONICA PIER
Modern reunions of old bands from the 1960s can be a very mixed bag. For every group like Question Mark & the Mysterians, who occasionally perform with original members and sound just as powerful as they did in their heyday, there are dozens of other bands who sound embarrassingly creaky as they chase ancient memories. The Zombies, as led by Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, are, mercifully, an exception to the latter trend. Of course, they have played together for many years now, moving on from their initial pop success with The Zombies to frequent collaborations even after Rod held his head high with classic rockers Argent. The “new” Zombies actually have been back together for more than a decade, deftly mixing new songs with vintage favorites such as “Time of the Season” and “She’s Not There.” —Falling James
Fucked Up, Tijuana Panthers
Fucked Up’s newest album, Glass Boys, is a long way from the Wipers/Jawbreaker alien-core they’ve done before. Vocalist Damien Abraham still has that wrecked, Schwarzenbach-via-’82-Rollins roar of a voice — but now it’s chopping through some quintessential Amerindie guitar rock à la Dinosaur Jr. or Hüsker Dü’s Warehouse era instead. Which means lots of little touches in everything from lyrics to production, and lots of depth beneath the din. There’s always something interesting going on with this band, who seem to be trying to hold on to hardcore even as they’re trying to push past it in their own particular way. As the SSD song once asked: “How much art can you take?” With Long Beach’s cheerfully troubled power-pop punkers Tijuana Panthers, riding on their new Wayne Interest, likely their best album yet. —Chris Ziegler
Though they formed only in 2013, Raleigh-based outfit Sylvan Esso have rocketed into the psyche of indie-rock fans. But the group almost never happened. Amelia Meath, of Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man, and Nick Sanborn joined forces after Meath asked the producer also known as Made of Oak to remix a song of hers, to which he added a few more parts. The singer was impressed enough with the result that they put aside their solo endeavors to work on their own, electronic-based project. The group’s self-titled album landed at No. 39 on the Billboard 200 and has been praised by numerous outlets, proving the decision to leave their solo careers behind, at least for the time being, was a prudent one. ?—Daniel Kohn
Ed Rush and Optical
RESPECT AT THE DRAGONFLY
Longtime drum ’n’ bass powerhouses Ed Rush and Optical take a break from massive EDM festival stages to bring their crafted DJ set to a club setting. The British duo’s seemingly endless string of summer gigs is ahead of the late-September release of their sixth full-length album, Automaton, out on their own 16-year-strong label, Virus Recordings. It’s been a minute since original music has been heard from the two, who individually and collaboratively have created some of the most intricate and timeless smashers in the genre. Automaton stays true to form, aimed at the dance floor with signature dark techstep overtones and distorted undertones. Recalling what made Ed Rush and Optical standard-setting producers to begin with, Automaton pulls from their identifiable batch of sounds on “Longstay,” with their go-to MC Ryme Tyme name-checking their mighty back catalog. —Lily Moayeri
Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!
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