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

See Saturday: Kitten
See Saturday: Kitten
Courtesy of Elektra Records

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

Friday, June 20

Jessica Lea Mayfield
THE ROXY
Jessica Lea Mayfield started singing at an early age, performing with her family in the bluegrass band One Way Rider when she was just 8 years old. On her third solo album, Make My Head Sing, the Ohio native dramatically shifts away from the folk and country influences of her early releases into a heavier, grungier sound. The opening track, "Oblivious," unwinds with woozy, bluesy chords and hard-rock thunder topped by Mayfield's sweetly serene vocals. "I Wanna Love You" and the eerie "Party Drugs" are contrastingly mellow, as she coos amid a tangle of restless guitars. "Standing in the Sun" burns with an ethereal glow, but the fuzz and distortion return with a somberly chilling vengeance on "Pure Stuff." - Falling James

Los Microwaves
THE SMELL
Los Microwaves took DNA from Devo and built a cheerfully bizarre '70s/'80s, synth-y, art-punk sound, which brought them collector acclaim if not quite international fame. Put it this way: They released more records than The Screamers, but they're in far fewer karaoke machines than The B-52's. Still, this was a band whose best songs were challenging, surreal and just bristling with future-primitive synthesizer riffs, like their 1981 almost-hit "Time to Get Up" - which helps you start your day the THX-1138 way! - or its bad-trip B-side, "TV in My Eye." (Famously covered in fast and nasty punk style by infamous locals Le Shok, by the way.) There couldn't possibly be a better warm-up (get it?) for the Hardcore Devo tour at the end of June than this Los Microwaves reunion. - Chris Ziegler

Saturday, June 21

Kitten
EL REY
With their debut album due next week, local throwback new-wavers Kitten have essentially become front gal Chloe Chaidez and a revolving door of bandmates. Which is predictable enough, considering it's Chaidez's breathy, melodramatic yelp that largely sets her band apart from any number of retro hipsters plundering Walkman-era staples from Berlin and Missing Persons. Indeed, what's most remarkable about Kitten is that, with most of its influences predating the still-teenage Chaidez entirely, she and mentor/manager/producer Chad Anderson have so deftly re-created the neon-flecked, futuristic aura of so many glossily produced '80s synth-guitar collisions. Whether Kitten is a band or a solo project, it offers tuneful escape for the kids and comforting familiarity for mom and pop. - Paul Rogers
 
Milk Carton Kids
JAPAN AMERICA THEATRE
When Eagle Rock natives Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan weave their voices together, the effect can silence the most restive crowd. Then one of them will crack a joke and leave that same crowd in stitches. With their vintage guitars and microphones, Milk Carton Kids often are labeled folk revivalists, especially since many audiences discover them through NPR's roots-leaning Mountain Stage or the HBO documentary Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis. While their approach can seem antiquated, the results often feel thrillingly original, and quickly put to rest any easy Simon and Garfunkel or Welch and Rawlings comparisons. They're promoting a new concert DVD, Live From Lincoln Theatre, but their haunting harmonies are best heard in a live setting. - Andy Hermann

Fu Manchu, The Freeks
TROUBADOUR
Longtime local stoner-rockers Fu Manchu have always had a mighty sound, so it's no surprise that their 11th album is titled Gigantoid. Tracks such as "Anxiety Reducer" unfold with massive, Tony Iommi - style riffs underneath Bob Balch's lead-guitar squalling. "Radio Source Sagittarius" is like an endless series of punches to the stomach, as singer-guitarist Scott Hill growls dour pronouncements. Fu Manchu's original drummer, Ruben Romano, paves the way tonight with his scuzzy-fuzzy outfit, The Freeks, whose new album, Full On, rumbles with skittering wah-wah-guitar workouts such as "Big Black Chunk" and the ominous psychedelic passages of "Vitamin D." The Freeks lower the volume for a brief spell amid the acoustic strumming of "Splitting Atoms," on which Romano's trippy vocals and Jonathan Hall's soaring lead guitar evoke the 13th Floor Elevators. - Falling James

Sunday, June 22

Janelle Monáe, ?Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Janelle Monáe falls to her Earth tonight with freaky, funky tunes from her aptly titled second album, Electric Lady. "My spaceship leaves at 10," the self-proclaimed "electro-sophista-funky-lady" advises on the title track. "We the kind of girls who ain't afraid to get down." Dishing her glittery tales of interstellar romance, Monáe comes off as smart, sassy and more than a little spacey, abetted by such simpatico souls as Erykah Badu, Solange, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding and Prince. Tonight's aural universe expands further with an appearance by Seun Kuti, backed by his late father Fela Kuti's legendary Afropop band, Egypt 80. On their new Robert Glasper - produced album, A Long Way to the Beginning, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 come off as insanely funky under a hail of slip-sliding guitars and a fusillade of frenetic saxophone retorts from their bandleader. - Falling James

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

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