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

Dengue Fever -- See Saturday
Dengue Fever -- See Saturday
Photo courtesy of Dengue Fever

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

Friday, December 6

Papa

EL REY

The band is named Papa, but really it's founder Darren Weiss' baby -- the one constant through years of his participating in other musicians' projects, including a much-loved band called Girls, and now finally the total focus of Weiss' musical life. Recent debut full-length Tender Madness is a crazy-but-it-works mix of Springsteen-ian hard-times arena rock and sentiment ("Don't it feel right to be held in the arms," Weiss asks, "of a rich and white American man?") and bands Springsteen probably secretly likes, like the early Stooges and mid-period Pixies. What does this mean to you? Big beats and guitar, lyrics that make you feel as if we'll make it together if we make it at all, and fireworks choruses that'll make you shout and cry at the same time. This is a headlining gig, and they'll headline the hell out of it, I'm sure. --Chris Ziegler

Paisley Underground Reunion with the Bangles, Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, Three O'Clock

THE FONDA THEATRE

It's time to take a trip, kiddies ... back to that uniquely L.A. moment in the early '80s, when a loose group of psychedelic pop bands, which would come to be collectively known as the Paisley Underground, took over local music. (This was also back when The Bangles were a proud Paisley band called The Bangs, and who didn't really walk like anybody in particular.) Four of the founding Paisley bands will share a bill on this benefit for Education Through Music -- Los Angeles, an organization restoring music instruction to starved public schools. The lineup includes The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, the formidable Dream Syndicate and of course Rain Parade, who've barely played any reunion shows and whose debut, Emergency Third Rain Power Trip, is a major classic in this micro-genre. It has jangle, wit and understated pop ambition, and you can experience all those at once in the beautiful little song "What's She Done to Your Mind." --Chris Ziegler

Zak Waters

THE SATELLITE

After a September residency that each week turned the Satellite into a proper dance party, L.A. native Zak Waters returns to the Silver Lake institution to dish out more funk-inspired pop goodness. Don't get it twisted, though -- Waters isn't some Robin Thicke knockoff proffering white-boy soul sans the soul. The 20-something singer, songwriter and producer has legit vocal chops, throwback style and mad stage presence to boot. And while Waters is relatively fresh to the scene (his debut album, Lip Service, was released via Spotify), he's already spreading his talents across genres, having provided vocals for artists including Flo Rida and Madeon, the French DJ with whom Waters collaborated on the biggie EDM single "The City." Just to keep things interesting, Waters even records all of the demos for legendary songwriter Diane Warren. Whether you want to call his output soul, pop, dance or disco (he has called it all of these things), the fact is that it will get you moving. And isn't that really what matters? --Katie Bain

Insect Surfers

RECORD SURPLUS

Insect Surfers have always been far more than just a generic surf combo, dating back to 1979, when guitarist David Arnson led an embryonic incarnation of the band in Washington, D.C. Part of an energetic scene that included Bad Brains, the Surfers appeared on bills with Joan Jett, The Strangers and Iggy Pop, and their rampaging instrumentals reflected the manic intensity of the early punk era. When Arnson relocated to L.A. in 1985, he reconfigured the group, infusing his febrile surf originals with surges of psychedelia and appearing on bills with such inspirations as Link Wray and The Ventures. But Insect Surfers really outdo themselves on their new magnum opus, Infra Green -- their first album in more than a decade -- an aquatic-themed travelogue under the waves, where they're accompanied by such stellar guests as Davie Allan and The Bel-Airs' Paul Johnson. Arnson and Michael Abraham's dual lead-guitar sorties infuse tracks like "Orion Canyon" with a majestic, wordless, spaghetti Western eloquence. --Falling James

 

Saturday, December 7

KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas

SHRINE AUDITORIUM

Adding tickets to KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas concert to your holiday list is a good way to guarantee admission to another list altogether -- Santa's nice list. Only the naughty could ignore the charities supported by the two-night fest (both Para Los Niños and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center educate local youth) and the lineup fronting it. Night one features Kings of Leon, AFI, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Cage the Elephant, GroupLove, Foals and New Politics, while night two brings in Arcade Fire and Phoenix, among other big names. This year, the 24th annual (and occasionally not so acoustic) fest moves from the defunct Gibson Amphitheatre to the Shrine Auditorium, but those who can't make it to the shows still can cash in on Christmas early. The entire ho-ho-hoedown will be streamed live online. --Kelsey Whipple

Dengue Fever

PAPPY & HARRIET'S PIONEERTOWN PALACE

Dengue Fever have always had a curiously exotic and distinctly original sound, blending the Cambodian pop of lead singer Chhom Nimol's homeland with American guitarist Zac Holtzman and his keyboardist brother Ethan Holtzman's alt-rock leanings. That combination was already mesmerizing enough, as the local band drew upon both psychedelic weirdness and traditional Cambodian styles in a literal and metaphorical journey that was captured in the documentary Sleepwalking Through the Mekong. But on their upcoming EP, Girl From the North, their musical horizons expand even further, with lulling balladry and monumental hard rock juxtaposed with slinky, hypnotically funky Afrobeat rhythms inspired by the quintet's tours of Africa. Zac's incandescent guitars fold seamlessly within David Ralicke's weaving sax patterns, while Nimol coos serenely like a soaring, high-flying bird. --Falling James

Sunday, December 8

100 Flowers

THE ECHO

The early art-punk band Urinals -- three UCLA students who got their start at a 1978 talent show in their Westwood dorm -- were at a vexing crossroads by the time the year 1981 rolled around. Although their unusual, minimalist chord structures and rapid-fire tempos were a direct influence on the nascent hardcore movement, they had already lost interest in the conformity and violence of the suburban-punk scene and were instead moving in much more challenging directions. Like their SoCal peers The Middle Class and their British inspirations Wire and Gang of Four, The Urinals were experimenting with funk and post-punk rhythms, renaming themselves 100 Flowers to reflect that change. Although the trio continued to stir up the kind of ridiculously short and amped-up punk ditties that directly inspired such disparate groups as The Gun Club, No Age, Yo La Tengo and The Minutemen, singer-bassist John Talley-Jones, drummer Kevin Barrett and guitarist Kjehl Johansen began tripping out with funky opuses like "All Sexed Up." After a decades-long absence, the stutter-strumming Johansen recently rejoined the band, making this rare show even more compelling. --Falling James

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

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