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

Coachella begins!

Credit: Colin Young-WolffCoachella begins!

Friday, April 13

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

EMPIRE POLO CLUB

Although it's unlikely that the Rolling Stones and their sprawling entourage will descend on this sun-baked music festival for a surprise set, as was rumored earlier this year, there are still many intriguing storylines scattered among the scores of performers making the trek to Indio over the next two weekends. Friday night is headlined by another band of stony Brits -- The Stone Roses -- who are reuniting for another stab at American success, alongside such veterans as London shoegazers Blur, NYC alt-pop mapmakers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, local all-star hip-hop collective Jurassic 5, wickedly brilliant power-pop savants Sparks and Nick Cave's Grinderman, interspersed with newer sounds from tranquil dream-spinners Beach House, synth-poppers Passion Pit and Trent Reznor's latest project, How to Destroy Angels. Saturday features a rare visitation from moodily bewitching Bat for Lashes, charismatic soul stylist Janelle Monáe and Icelandic soundscape shifters Sigur Rós, alongside unexpected flashbacks from The Descendents, Violent Femmes and fiery ska stirrers The Selecter and headliners like Phoenix, The xx and The Postal Service. Sunday culminates with another incarnation of Nick Cave (this time with the Bad Seeds), the remnants of the once-mighty Social Distortion, goth enchanters Dead Can Dance, Aussie psychedelic-pop mesmerizers Tame Impala and a summit with the original Wu-Tang Clan. Also Sat.-Sun., and Fri.-Sun., April 19-21. --Falling James

See also: Our complete Coachella coverage

Tamir Hendelman Trio

THE EBELL CLUB

Since moving to Los Angeles from his native Israel at age 12, all this pianist has done is win a national Yamaha keyboard competition and tour Japan as a teenager, join the famed Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, have an album (Destinations, 2010) reach No. 1 on the jazz charts and become the pianist for some up-and-coming singer named Barbra Streisand. Hendelman is a virtuoso performer and a clever arranger, able to take anything from a Ravel piano piece to an Israeli folk song and make it swing. The show is at the historic Ebell of Los Angeles, where Judy Garland was discovered, Glenn Gould gave his last performance and Amelia Earhart delivered her last speech before disappearing from the earth. Let's hope the last two fates do not befall Hendelman. --Gary Fukushima

Saturday, April 14

Norton Records Benefit

THE ECHO

While NYC big-beat swamis Billy Miller and Miriam Linna's Sandy-soaked Norton Records warehouse has enjoyed a variety of fundraising events in the last few months, this flat-out astonishing lineup is the most potent testimony yet to the power of Norton's achievements and significance. The evening features venerable East L.A. titans Thee Midniters performing a set of their savage garage-rock classics; the first show in 15 years by Missouri mad men The Untamed Youth (memorably reuniting Deke Dickerson with Steve "King of Men" Mace); the demonic trash blues of Swiss one-man sensation Reverend Beat-Man; infamous "Lord of Garbage" Kim Fowley; the elusive, always electrifying Phantom Surfers; '60s Sunset Strip thrillers The Sloths; and the drastically bizarre South Bay Surfers. Scads of additional mayhem comes from the capable likes of Thee Cormans, the Shag Rats and many others. This noon-9 p.m. rampage has more wild-ass rock & roll fun than any human may be able to survive. We're happy to try, though. --Jonny Whiteside

Groundislava

BOOTLEG THEATER

Groundislava is one of those guys who makes music like Tao Lin writes -- minimal and atmospheric at the same time. You can focus on each little tiny part or just let yourself dissolve completely. Yes, his recent Katy Perry remix is a bit of a departure, but not as much as you'd think. All the best parts of Groundislava are still there, from the Hirokazu Tanaka-style 8-bit melodies to the ebb-and-flow waves of sound and noise and his trademark left-field beatwork. His collaborations with buddy Baths (the positively anesthetic "Suicide Mission") and fellow Wedidit collective member Shlohmo (the cheerfully disorienting "Bottle Service") prove he's just as formidable with less tween-arific musicians. In fact, they prove that no matter who Groundislava is working with, he's always gonna come through with something special of his own. --Chris Ziegler

Sunday, April 14

Merle Haggard

CANYON CLUB

Merle Haggard is the only native Californian ever inducted into Nashville's most exclusive club, the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he sure as hell does not play Los Angeles anywhere near often enough. And that is a damn shame, because Haggard's brilliant original compositions and absolutely peerless vocals unfailingly combine to make some of the most mesmerizing music you'll hear in any genre. From doing hard time in San Quentin to becoming the only country artist ever featured on the cover of jazz bible Downbeat, the 76-year-old Haggard's combination of impassioned aesthetics and shadowy life experiences (not to mention the dizzyingly high level at which his superb band, the Strangers, always operate), make this an attendance-mandatory proposition. --Jonny Whiteside

Mudhoney, The Freeks

THE ECHO

Although Nirvana and Pearl Jam get most of the credit these days, it was really the mid-'80s Seattle band Green River that set the template for the heavy, sludgy, hard-rock sound that would later be called grunge. Green River singer Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner reconfigured themselves as Mudhoney in 1988, releasing fuzzed-out blasts like the contagiously feral anti-anthem "Touch Me, I'm Sick." While the tunes on Mudhoney's later albums were less memorable, as the early, punchier songwriting gave way to more rambling opuses, the quartet always plays with a fulsomely engaging raw power. Speaking of raw power, The Freeks are a hard-hitting group of stoner-rock all-stars, with Backbiter guitar hero Jonathan Hall ravaging the frets alongside members of Nebula, Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu. --Falling James

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