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

Janelle Monáe -- See Saturday
Janelle Monáe -- See Saturday
Timothy Norris

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

Friday, November 1

Bernhoft

THE TROUBADOUR

Norway's Bernhoft must have a whole record store in his brain -- and one of those retro-expert vintage-instrument dealers, too. On his recent album Solidarity Breaks, the bespectacled Norwegian artist ably delivers the kind of maximalist, everything-new-is-old-again pop/soul that guys like Mayer Hawthorne and Nino Moschella make with bits and pixels and painstakingly restored original synthesizers, which just can't be duplicated any other way. A song like "C'mon Talk" is a perfect example of the way Bernhoft turns concepts like "retro" and "futuristic" inside out: Every decade since the advent of electrically powered instruments is represented here, wrapped up so tight you can't tell where one stops and another begins. So yeah, you can dance to it. But you can also wander through it for hours, discovering new little twists and turns and trap doors you missed the first 40 times. --Chris Ziegler

Chris Schlarb

THE VELASLAVASAY PANORAMA

Long Beach jazz guitarist Chris Schlarb wanted to do something a little different in reprising his 2007 debut album, Twilight & Ghost Stories -- an often-engrossing series of languid guitar idylls and watery, New Age-y soundscapes -- for a full-length live performance. He booked this unusual venue in the University Park district, although the Velaslavasay's sumptuous, panoramic landscape paintings won't provide much eye candy during tonight's two sets -- which will take place in near-darkness. "Spontaneous lighting cues" will replace sheet music as the band members are "paired up in the moment, choosing how to respond and react to the music (or silence) around them." Interestingly, Schlarb is mixing his group of the usual avant-jazz suspects with folks like The Mars Volta's Ikey Owens and former Minuteman Mike Watt, although the mostly male lineup is a distressingly quaint throwback to the real late 1800s, when panoramic paintings were still all the rage. --Falling James

Nobunny

THE ECHOPLEX

Nobunny's Secret Songs longplayer is just out on the most esteemed Goner Records, and herein we find our hero taking back "rock & roll," chopping it up, wolfing it down and ralphing a big pebbly mess back out into the stratosphere or, at the very least, onto the garage floor. It's quite the gnarly stew of trashy, childish choons about girls, drugs and creepy enemies -- all the essentials. Meanwhile Nobunny himself, you gotta wonder about. Why would a grown man don a bunny rabbit mask, stockings and handcuffs and roam a stage wanking songs like "(Do the) Fuck Yourself," "Rotten Sweet Tooth" or "Buried in a Bong"? More importantly, why wouldn't he? Have you tried getting a straight job lately? All seriousness aside, beneath the mask, Nobunny is a gifted, versatile songwriter and performer; more hard evidence of this is found on his new mixtape-style LP, which also features that song "Bye Bye Roxie," which you heard on MTV's 120 Minutes were you pinheaded enough to watch that show. --John Payne

See also: Nobunny at FYF Fest: The West Coast Sound Interview

Saturday, November 2

Johnny Marr

THE FONDA THEATRE

The musical love affair between Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey was one of the great romances of the previous century. When they combined forces as The Smiths, they made (literally) beautiful music together. As artful as many of Morrissey's self-absorbed lyrics were, they were suffused with incredible drama and far more passion when combined with Marr's imaginative surges of guitar, particularly when Marr opened up his Pandora's box of eerie sounds on tracks like "How Soon Is Now?" While it's admirable that neither Marr nor Morrissey seems interested in reliving their ancient glories, one also has to admit that neither has really sounded quite the same without the other. Since leaving The Smiths in 1987, Marr has worked with The Pretenders, Pet Shop Boys, The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. His new solo album, The Messenger, is surprisingly involving, with Marr's hazy vocals blending well with that famously ringing and jangling guitar. Also at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Sunday, Nov. 3. --Falling James

See also: Think Morrissey Is a Douche? Go Join the NRA

 

HARD Day of the Dead

L.A. STATE HISTORIC PARK

What better way to remember your dearly departed than by dancing your butt off for two days? HARD honors the celebratory aspect of Mexico's traditional Day of the Dead with a cross-section of danceable sounds that lean toward velvety rounded house tones rather than brutal dubstep. After a decade's absence from Los Angeles, original house dons Masters at Work make their rump-shaking return. Keeping things warm is Soul Clap's electro-funk house, while their musical cousins Wolf+Lamb take the deep-house turn. Tokimonsta provides dark experimentations and The Prodigy's Maxim reminds us he was here first. Daft Punk-endorsed Giorgio Moroder revives disco with the help of Chris Cox, and Calvin Harris brings cool to the mainstream. Skrillex's heavy-metal bass and Deadmau5's robotics bring the punishing, but necessary, hard edge to this two-day free-for-all. --Lily Moayeri

See also: The Worst of Hard Summer 2013

Janelle Monáe

CLUB NOKIA

Janelle Monáe has always been freakier and more ambitious than most soul singers. Her new album, Electric Lady, is the latest in a series of releases loosely inspired by the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, in which the tuxedo-clad singer sees herself as a heroic android sent to restore love and balance in the cosmos. The rest of the universe must be catching on, as such stellar beings as Prince, Erykah Badu, Solange, Miguel and Esperanza Spalding drop by to funk things up. Amid Badu's exhortations and the snappy jazz horns of "Q.U.E.E.N.," Monáe wonders, "Am I a freak for getting down? ... Am I good enough for your heaven?/Say, will your God accept me in my black and white?" Let's hope the answer to all of these rhetorical questions is yes -- heaven would be a very dull place without Monáe's sinuous melodies, tight raps and provocative persona. --Falling James

Sunday, November 3

Zig Zags

BOOTLEG THEATRE

L.A.'s Zig Zags have a new double A-side 7-inch out -- yes, the actual A-sides from two of their earlier 45s, to satisfy the same maniacs who two-fist their booze at the show -- but that's not why we're gonna talk about Zig Zags right now. We're gonna talk about Zig Zags because live, they've become a ferociously primitive, outsider-punk machine. This is like a caveman in an airbrushed panel van, listening to a borrowed Chrome album and trying to figure out how to use it as entrance music in his bad-guy wrestler fantasies. Onstage the band delivers punk, but punk from that dark park of the basement that scared The Ramones. The output is all reverb and mangled Roky Erickson guitar leads and songs that hide bleakness and fury behind cartoony monsters and wizards. Great real-deal freak vibe on this band -- like the bottom-shelf VHS movies your parents wouldn't let you touch. --Chris Ziegler

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

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