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

Iasos -- See Friday
Iasos -- See Friday

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

Friday, July 26

Peter Murphy

THE FONDA THEATRE

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Of all the former members of Bauhaus, lead singer Peter Murphy has had the most inconsistently rewarding solo career, but you had to admire that, at least until lately, he seemingly had no interest in cheap nostalgia. Although Bauhaus have occasionally reunited over the past 15 years, Murphy has generally and stubbornly pursued his own muse, mixing intriguing strains of Middle Eastern exotica into his fitfully engaging solo releases. So it seems strange that now, out of the blue, the English frontman is cashing in on his goth-rock past with the Mr. Moonlight Tour, where he's "celebrating 35 years of Bauhaus." Such a celebration would indeed be meaningful if Murphy were playing again with the actual members of Bauhaus instead of the mostly undistinguished musicians in his backup band. On the other hand, it should be a treat to hear Murphy intone hauntingly gorgeous and glassy ballads like "Mr. Moonlight," which Bauhaus rarely performed live. If nothing else, this sentimental journey might distract attention from the singer's demystifying arrest earlier this year after a hit-and-run accident in Glendale. Also Sat., July 27. --Falling James

See also: How to Become a Music Geek In Four Simple Steps

Kat Kong, Batwings Catwings, Gnarbaby, Stab City

THE SMELL

Kat Kong is an interesting new band whose songs range from poppy and punky to harder and artier post-punk. "Amoeba Sand" throttles with Susan Raygoza's rumbling bass and C.M. Rodriguez's waves of angular guitar, while "Somniac" crams Shelina Louise's yearning pop melodies against Rodriguez's shadowy chords. Batwings Catwings singer Dana Poblete sarcastically confesses, "I want to listen to the radio/I want a limited experience," against a backdrop of fuzzy chords and poppy hooks that are, ironically, catchy enough to be on the radio -- if the radio were still a place for groups this rebellious. Gnarbaby purveys a synth-heavy brand of dance-pop that blends bright and fizzy keyboards with soothing vocals. Stab City, meanwhile, cranks out a much stranger and harder brew, turning simple punk rock into a spazzy jumble of noise, weird chord changes and aggressive tempo shifts. --Falling James

Iasos

CINEFAMILY

Iasos was and maybe still is a guy who lived on a houseboat in the Marin County docks. There, in the mid-1970s, he made music using some of the first commercially available synthesizers, along with magnetic tape manipulation, feedback and other electronic gizmology. It is said that he had an ongoing dialogue with one Vista, a musicianlike being from a distant dimension who guided Iasos in the channeling of the sounds of the spheres. We have no reason to doubt that this is true when we hear Iasos' heavenly music from another dimension (recently re-released as Celestial Soul Portraits via the trustworthy Numero Group label). The "crystal giggling energy" of Iasos actually predates ambient and New Age icons like Tangerine Dream, Vangelis or Eno, and his breathing, flowing floatspace is blessedly free of loopy-droopy goo. Catharsis, we call it. --John Payne

Saturday, July 27

Swamp Dogg

THE ECHO

In the demonological order of deep Southern soul, there's no single performer as vehemently weird and wondrous as Jerry Williams Jr., better known (to a filthy underworld of offbeat music nuts) as Swamp Dogg. The man is prized by his twisted cult following for such classic early-'70s albums as Total Destruction to Your Mind, Rat On and Gag a Maggot, all stunning showcases of his Category 5 brand of hard, psychedelicized funk. Swamp Dogg is still a regular headliner on the international festival circuit but, despite the fact that he's been a San Fernando Valley resident since 1978, he has never before performed a show in Los Angeles. When he busts the (adopted) hometown cherry tonight, expect nothing less than a torrid onslaught of musical tumult, delivered on an apocalyptic scale. (Also see this week's Music feature.) --Jonny Whiteside

Fitz & the Tantrums

WILTERN

While most modern pop songs seem to require glowstick accessories, relief from this Top 40 grind comes courtesy of Fitz & the Tantrums. The sextet makes classic pop music with hip-swaying, clap-along beats and fervent call-backs. Genuine rock and soul culled from soulful supporting vocals and tambourines explodes in the group's high-energy performances, all backing up lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick's claim that the group play every show like it's their last. While Fitz & the Tantrums are known for Motown vibes, their recent release, More Than Just a Dream, leans toward new wave, focusing on '80s synth and incorporating a stronger guitar presence than on previous works. Fitz & the Tantrums is a cross between Primal Scream and The Temptations, with the swagger of Kasabian and a dash of Britpop. To put it more simply, their single, "Out of My League" is a great start to any dance party. --Britt Witt

See also: My Awkward Night With Fitz and the Tantrums at Jimmy Kimmel Live

Bruno Mars

STAPLES CENTER

Grammy-winning pop star Bruno Mars grew up in a musically inclined family that welcomed and cultivated his early experimentation. At age 9, he performed all over his native Hawaii -- impersonating Elvis. At 17, Mars relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a full-time career in music. After a deal gone sour with Motown, Mars found solo success with Atlantic in 2009. In a March interview with USA Today, the star discussed his latest release, Unorthodox Jukebox, explaining, "That's what I always heard when I used to play my music for different labels: 'Your music is too unorthodox and we don't know how we would market you.' " Tonight's sold-out show also features English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley

 

The Black Mambas

THE REDWOOD

L.A.'s Black Mambas make the kind of punk that was happening just before punk was quote-unquote "invented" -- they're too raw to be glam, too fast to be rock & roll, and probably even too drunk and crazy to get in as a pub-rock band, unless Wilko Johnson was there to sign off on any damages. Their newest session (with perfect-choice producer Johnny Witmer of The Stitches and The Crazy Squeeze) is loud and riled like the greatest wreckers of 1975. As captured -- believe me, the right term -- within, the Mambas are somewhere between early Cock Sparrer, Dr. Feelgood and The New York Dolls, with a version of "Teenage Letter" that hits closer to The Count Bishops' 1970s stormer than The Sorrows' almost-as-hard '60s version. Some bands drink right from the bottle -- these guys drink right from the gas tank. --Chris Ziegler

Sumach (Gonjasufi), Holy Smoke

THE ECHOPLEX

High times right now for Sumach, aka Warp Records' otherworldly iconoclast Gonjasufi, or maybe "holy times" might be a better way of putting it, since he's the voice from beyond on the final track of Jay-Z's new Magna Carta ... Holy Grail. (L.A.'s Adrian Younge cq also has some moments on there --as a wise man once shouted, "Los Angeles is in the motherfuckin' building!") Jay-Z chose well, because if ever there was a guy made to close out an epic, it's Sumach, who makes music with the clarity and authority of a prophet just back from decades wandering the desert, and whose every release brings him one step closer to a beat version of Jodorowsky's El Topo. He'll be headlining this heavy-hitting Hit + Run event with Holy Smoke, the cosmic experimentalist pairing of Jeremiah Jae and Zeroh. --Chris Ziegler

Sunday, July 28

The Condors, Brainspoon

FAIS DO-DO

The meek might not really inherit the Earth, but once a year they do get the International Pop Overthrow festival, which takes over several local clubs this week. While you might expect nothing but antiseptic Beatles clones and timid garage-rock revivalists, the IPO fest actually encompasses punk-informed bands like Brainspoon and The Condors. Brainspoon kicks out ass-kicking hard rock that wouldn't be out of place on the Sunset Strip, but Daphne Vandervalk purrs over everything with a supremely melodic charisma that elevates her punky blasts into glitter-rock heaven. The Condors are fronted by Pat "Pooch" DiPuccio, one of the earliest rock critics at Flipside in the late '70s. Smart tunes like "What's Wrong With That?" from The Condors' recent album, 3 Item Combo, combine the punk energy of The Jam, the sarcasm of The Replacements and the tunefulness of Big Star, mixing power and pop in equal measure. --Falling James

Central Avenue Jazz Festival

DUNBAR HOTEL

A large chunk of the history of jazz in Los Angeles centers around the Dunbar Hotel and the surrounding district on Central Avenue in South L.A. From the 1920s to the '50s, Central Avenue was the hottest area on the West Coast for jazz, and music legends including John Coltrane and Billie Holiday frequented the Dunbar Hotel. Honoring that legacy is now the mission of the Central Avenue Jazz Festival, which celebrates its 18th annual edition Saturday and Sunday. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days, the street in front of the Dunbar will host acts including the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Gilbert Castellanos, Ernie Andrews and many more. Check it out, and you'll likely get a sense of what some consider the golden age of jazz in Los Angeles. --Tom Meek

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

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