The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Weekend
Photo courtesy of Press PartySee Friday: Lana Del Rey
Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!
Friday, May 30
Lana Del Rey, Father John MistySHRINE EXPO HALL
Lana Del Rey's early ballads were so steeped in a deeply melancholic romanticism that it was easy to assume her personal life also was full of heartbreak, causing many fans to worry that the singer would end up as another rock & roll tragedy. But the former Lizzy Grant seems to be surviving just fine on her upcoming third album, Ultraviolence, produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. "Down on the West Coast, they got their icons, their silver starlets, their queens of Saigon," she observes coolly against a backdrop of distantly sparkling guitars. The new album ranges from typically dreamy passages such as "Cruel World" and "Sad Girl" to apparent commentaries on fame and the music industry, such as "Money Power Glory" and "Fucked My Way Up to the Top." The weirdly engaging J. Tillman opens in his solo Father John Misty guise. - Falling James
Guy, Tony! Toni! Toné!
NOKIA THEATRE L.A. LIVE
Fronted by vocal powerhouse Aaron Hall and R&B super-producer Teddy Riley, Guy dominated the U.S. music scene in the late '80s and early '90s with their innovative strain of jazzy hip-hop and R&B, often referred to as New Jack Swing. Since the mid 1990s, the Harlem trio has periodically disbanded and re-formed. After joining Guy for a highly praised reunion performance at the 2009 BET Awards, Riley confirmed in a 2010 interview that he was no longer a member of the group. Guy isn't the only group performing without original members. Tonight's show features performances by Oakland-based legends Tony! Toni! Toné! (sans Raphael Saadiq), Color Me Badd, H-Town, Force MDs and Ginuwine. - Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Like Courtney Love before her, Brody Dalle's relationships with rock stars (Rancid's Tim Armstrong and, currently, Queens of the Stone Age main man Josh Homme) have raised her profile while tainting her musical cred. But with her just-released debut solo album, Diploid Love, the former Distillers and Spinnerette frontgal makes a major statement as a stand-alone creative force. Crude personal-life parallels aside, Dalle has always also sounded like Love, and her husky, surly yelp still does on this spirited collection of cultured, controlled punk, which features Shirley Manson, The Strokes' Nick Valensi and QOTSA's Michael Shuman. Sure, Diploid is more "mature" than Dalle's previous recordings, but in a surprisingly enlivening way, with measured tempos, beatbox backbones and even trumpet interjections highlighting the angsty attitude that is her curled-lip signature. - Paul Rogers
Pink Mountaintops, Giant Drag
As their name implies, Pink Mountaintops have a sound that's alternately thunderous and tenderly pretty. The Canadians anticipate "The Second Coming of Summer" on their new album, Get Back, with stomping beats and bracingly euphoric chords like a modern answer to The Clash's "London Calling." Annie Hardy, whose band Giant Drag opens tonight, duets with Mountaintops leader Stephen McBean on the urban urgency of "North Hollywood Microwaves" amid a traffic jam of crashing guitars, sassy lyrics and wailing sax. "Sell Your Soul" is like a glitter-boogie fever-dream reincarnation of Mott the Hoople, while McBean's unexpected optimism burns through the hazy jangle of "Through All the Worry." Guest contributions from Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis add to the mix another layer of fuzz and mystery. - Falling James
Saturday, May 31
Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams
Nearly 10 months since he was last in town playing two nights at Staples Center, Bruno Mars has somehow managed to top that impressive feat. Between his continuous radio success and a lauded appearance on the Super Bowl halftime show, the former Elvis impersonator returns a bigger star than before while gracefully doing the evening's heavy lifting. When you have the star power Mars has, you can attract some of the biggest names as openers. For these shows, the Hawaiian is calling upon the resurgent Pharrell Williams (and his hat) to handle those duties. Fans undoubtedly would be thrilled to see these two superstars on their own, never mind on the same bill. Also Sunday, June 1. - Daniel Kohn
Azar Lawrence Quintet
SEABIRD JAZZ LOUNGE
Saxophonist Azar Lawrence is widely recognized as one of the planet's finest interpreters of the music of John Coltrane. Azar's early career saw notable stints with both Miles Davis and Coltrane pianist McCoy Tyner before he largely dropped out of sight for an extended period. Lawrence's renaissance is nearly a decade old now; tonight's show at the Seabird Jazz Lounge in Long Beach pairs him with multiple Grammy-winning pianist Billy Childs, former Weather Report drummer Alphonse Mouzon, bassist Jeff Littleton, and Nolan Shaheed, who's as well known for his world age-group records in track and field as for his fine trumpet work. Expect pre-holiday fireworks aplenty from this show. - Tom Meek
Sunday, June 1
Raw Geronimo, Girlpool
Laena Geronimo is full of surprises. The Raw Geronimo leader is already a convincingly engrossing New Wave and art-rock diva, presiding giddily over the intersection of angular guitars and stop-start funky rhythms of songs such as "Dream Fever," which bubbles along like a postmodern Bow Wow Wow. Her voice expands with the sumptuous grandeur of Siouxsie Sioux within the dreamy contrails of "Van Gogh Baby," before switching to a ghostly wail amid the militantly percussive tom-toms of "Pep Rally." For all of her early punk and post-punk influences, Geronimo also reveals a newfound pure-pop melodicism on girl-group anthems such as the languorously beautiful "Magnetic Love" and "Faustine." Locals Girlpool defy gender expectations with the wittily subversive riot-grrl pop of "Slutmouth" and the eerily pretty harmonies of "Plants and Worms." - Falling James
Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!
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