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

Theophilus London headlines the Echoplex on Monday
Theophilus London headlines the Echoplex on Monday
Photo by Tracy Bailey

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Monday, March 2

Theophilus London
Theophilus London is part musician, part marketer. Known for his co-branding savvy as much as for his genre-hopping, London’s second album, Vibes, puts the intention right in the title: an unblended myriad of styles that’s about the feels. Executive produced by Kanye West, who appears on the soulful, crooning “Can’t Stop,” Vibes was created in distraction-free Palm Springs, worlds away from London’s regular stomping grounds in glitzy, high-action cities across the globe. It starts with a quiet, lounge-y mood on “Water Me,” switches to the modern electro shuffler “Neu Law” and brings in Motown veteran Leon Ware for the ’80s R&B throwback “Need Somebody.” One of the few blended cuts on Vibes, “Tribe” churns hip-hop rhymes with reggae and even a bit of trap for a heady rump shaker. — Lily Moayeri

Tuesday, March 3

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H.R. remains one of the most compelling frontmen in music. In his early days with Bad Brains, the former Paul Hudson (aka Human Rights) was a whirling dervish onstage, hurling himself around with the same reckless yet controlled abandon the rest of the band used to slam together supertight collisions of hardcore punk, reggae and heavy metal. The vastly influential early-’80s D.C. band reunites occasionally, but H.R. spends most of his time on his ongoing solo performances. He can still make tracks such as “Hey Wella” and “You Got a Girlfriend” feel ominous, crooning in a low voice between sinister hard-rock riffs. But H.R. is even more intense when he downshifts into a contemplative dub-reggae trance. — Falling James

Wednesday, March 4

Bettye LaVette
Soul singer Bettye LaVette’s genius lies in her uncanny ability to wring emotional depth from even the most innocuous of pop songs. Her plaintive rasp exposes the lovestruck vulnerability at the heart of “Maybe I’m Amazed,” plumbs the spookiest depths of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and fills Elton John’s barroom confessional “Talking Old Soldiers” with almost unbearable world-weariness. An R&B ingenue in the 1960s, LaVette’s career never really took off until a boutique French label released her debut album in 2000 — 28 years after she recorded it for Atlantic/Atco Records, which for mysterious reasons chose not to release it. Since then, she’s sung “A Change Is Gonna Come” at Obama’s first inaugural celebration, stolen the show at the Kennedy Center Honors with a rendition of “Love, Reign O’er Me” that reduced Pete Townshend to tears, and generally disproved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s old saw that American lives have no second act. — Andy Hermann

Thursday, March 5

Lumped in with the 1990s’ introverted shoegaze scene in their native U.K., Swervedriver were perceived more as an alt-rock animal stateside, where they opened for Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins. It’s understandable, as the band’s sound swirls somewhere between twinkly-guitar, rainy-Sunday reflection and wide-open-spaces, arena-ready escapism. Sensitive and melodic yet wonderfully ragged, Swervedriver’s influences span from Dinosaur Jr. and former labelmates My Bloody Valentine to The Beatles and The Stooges. When their sonic stars align around Adam Franklin’s plaintive vocals (as on “Rave Down” and “Duel”), the quartet is a groovy, muscle-bound, fuzzy friend, both wistful and optimistic. Released in January, contemplative single “Setting Sun” — Swervedriver’s first new release since reuniting in 2008 — suggests more of the same from imminent album I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, due March 3. — Paul Rogers

While the city of New Orleans is still sweeping its streets and slowly recovering from the latest Mardi Gras, Galactic return to L.A. to give us a rich taste of what we just missed. The Crescent City jazz-funk group’s most recent album, 2012’s Carnivale Electricos, is an aural travelogue through that heightened debauchery. Although Galactic pump out traditional strains of jazz, blues, funk and zydeco, they mix them together with unexpectedly hard-rocking, psychedelic force. A single track like “Magalenha” fuses together hip-hop, Latin rhythms, African sonorities, classical strings and flamenco guitar, while “Ha Di Ka” funks it up with a freewheeling jazz organ and trippy backward guitar. In their hometown, Galactic are notorious for their all-night Lundi Gras soirees. Expect a more condensed version tonight. — Falling James

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