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

Zola Jesus -- See Friday
Zola Jesus -- See Friday
Photo courtesy of Zola Jesus

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

Friday, September 27

Zola Jesus, J.G. Thirlwell

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Raised in the woods of Wisconsin, Zola Jesus has taken the eerie stillness of nature and put it in her songs, which juxtapose electronic, man-made backing with a funereal and haunting vocal grandeur. Jesus' music possesses a newly febrile elegance on her fourth album, Versions, where the former Nika Danilova remakes her early songs with the Mivos Quartet and producer J.G. Thirlwell. Tracks like "Sea Talk" fuse an icy orchestral veneer with Jesus' passionate, girl-group melody. Thirlwell is a man of many names (Clint Ruin, Foetus, Frank Want) who's collaborated with many iconic artists (Lydia Lunch, Marc Almond, Sonic Youth, NIN and the Kronos Quartet), but the New York City provocateur rarely performs here under any of his alter egos. Thirlwell is a masterful sonic sculptor who segues easily from beautifully delicate melodies to convulsive, mechanized avalanche sounds and back again. --Falling James

The Naked and Famous

WILTERN

New Zealand natives The Naked and Famous hunkered down in the hills of Laurel Canyon to record their new album, In Rolling Waves. Released in mid-September, the album offers a lighter, more introspective side of the quintet, who mercifully dropped the neo-psychedelic MGMT stigma they've been living with since the release of the album's debut single, "Young Blood." Named after rapper Tricky's line, "Everybody wants to be naked and famous," the band and their pop-rock have garnered several New Zealand Music Awards, including Best Single and Album of the Year for Passive Me, Aggressive You. Their airy melodies, metallic synths and grinding power chords will have you "climbing up the walls," while anthems such as "Hearts Like Ours" and "I Kill Giants" ensure a dance party. --Britt Witt

Tweak Bird

CASEY'S IRISH PUB

In real life, Tweak Bird are from Illinois; spiritually, though, they're from that place in the high desert where the only movement in the sky is buzzards by day and UFOs by night, and where you can play as loud as you want because the lizards just love it. Like their ancestors The Melvins and their contemporaries Big Business, the two Tweak Bird brothers (one drums, one sings and plays a spaceman guitar with special bass and theremin capabilities) make monstrous riffs with a warped-but-it-works melodic sensibility -- which means songs that happily bludgeon you even as you hum the chorus. (Imagine if Black Sabbath was Sweet ... and vice versa!) Newest release Undercover Crops finds them somehow catchier and crazier than ever, and still as comfortable going in two opposite directions at once. --Chris Ziegler

Saturday, September 28

Vampire Weekend

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Accused by some critics of "shoplifting elements of African pop music," Vampire Weekend are not the first, and won't be the last, band to borrow from black music and find commercial success. When it comes to the music, the talented Brooklyn-based quartet deserve the recognition that their self-described brand of "Upper West Side Soweto" has received. In May, the guys independently released their third studio album, Modern Vampires of the City. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Described by singer Ezra Koenig as "the last of a trilogy," Modern Vampires was recorded mainly in New York and Los Angeles and features production by celebrated sonic magician Ariel Rechtshaid (Usher, Plain White T's, Theophilus London, etc.). --Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette

ROYCE HALL

In 1983, ECM label producer Manfred Eicher suggested to Keith Jarrett that he consider forming a trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. At that point, it's likely none of them suspected the three would quickly become jazz's preeminent piano trio, picking up the mantle of Bill Evans, who had died unexpectedly three years earlier. 2013 marks their 30th anniversary, now having recorded a total of 20 albums along with four live video concerts. L.A. has been fortunate to have Jarrett play locally several times in the recent past -- he usually makes only a handful of U.S. appearances each year. Tonight's show kicks off a four-city U.S. tour that concludes with a December date at Carnegie Hall. --Tom Meek

 

Depeche Mode

STAPLES CENTER

These three Brits have built and sustained an arena-filling global career through memorable, sometimes mournful melodies (crafted by both frontman Dave Gahan and chief songwriter Martin Gore), ultra-sincere, often confessional lyrics (ditto) and compelling comings-together of synth-y and, when songs cry out for them, stringy sounds. On Delta Machine, the band's 13th studio full-length since forming in 1980, Depeche Mode strike a balance between chink-of-light sing-alongs and austere, pulsing industro-wallowing that's proven elusive on its recent recordings. On stage, though, augmented with touring musicians, it's Gahan's Everyman's Elvis showmanship and Gore's intuitively camp vulnerability that seals the Mode's massive connection with its vast, voracious legions of the loyal. (Also Sunday, Sept. 29, and Wednesday, Oct. 2.) --Paul Rogers

Sunday, September 29

The xx, Chromatics

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

The xx's songs are so fragile and intimate, you might think they'd get lost and float away into the ether at a large venue like the Hollywood Bowl. But the London band had no such problem at Coachella earlier this year. Playing a nighttime show on the mainstage, co-singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim exchanged whispered entreaties as if they were in bed instead of performing on a sprawling polo field in the desert. The duo's languid, minimal soundscapes and achingly romantic lyrics unfurled most movingly under the stars. The Portland, Ore., group Chromatics also blend hazy, atmospheric electronic music with dreamy vocals, such as their remake of Neil Young's "Into the Black," where Adam Miller's austere guitar is tied like a formal bow around Ruth Radelet's glassy singing. --Falling James

Arctic Monkeys

WILTERN

The four U.K.-bred, L.A.-stationed lads behind Arctic Monkeys are really good at changing their game, even for a group that launched its career with an album called Whatever You Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In the seven years and four albums since their gate-crashing, MySpace-blazing debut rendered the British music press hysterical and the Internet breathless, swift-tongued ringleader Alex Turner and company have turned their insightful prose and sweaty riffs into floor-stomping club anthems, raw garage jams, slow-crooning babymakers and fuzzy lullabies while transforming from polo-clad preps into gelled-back T-birds. With their fifth release, this month's AM, the guys still have as many questions ("R U Mine?," Do I Wanna Know?," "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?") as answers, but the presence of both is somehow sexier. And while Turner's characteristic romanticism still permeates its lyrics, AM's R&B-infused real talk is just as powerful as its creators have become. --Kelsey Whipple

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

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