The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Weekend
Mystic Braves headline the Echo on Friday.
Photo by Harrison Roberts
Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!
Friday, December 19
Fishbone, The Bots
“I cannot be me without everyone I see/I am a reflection of my whole community,” Angelo Moore declares on Fishbone’s recent song “Interdependent.” As Rocky George unrolls a superbly slinky funk-guitar riff, Moore concludes, “We’re intrinsically intertwined with our reality.” Fishbone calls upon that community for the local funk-punk band’s third annual Crazy Glue XXX-Xmas show, which also includes the funked-out New Orleans vibraphonist Mike Dillon (Les Claypool, Karl Denson), Weapon of Choice “rubbabox” maestro Lonnie Marshall and the accurately named tribute group Rap Sabbath. The new generation is well represented by L.A. duo The Bots, who gleefully smash through genre barriers, juxtaposing melodic-pop jangle (“No One Knows”), furious hardcore punk (“Northern Lights”), hard rock (“All I Really Want”) and metallic funk (“5:17”). Much like early Fishbone, The Bots find the connection between youthful punk rebellion and free-flowing, funky expressiveness. — Falling James
After the demise of Camp Freddy earlier this year, there was a big void in Los Angeles’ prominent cover-band scene. Though that band may have called it quits, ex-Campers Dave Navarro, Billy Morrison, Donovan Leitch and Chris Chaney enlisted pals Mark McGrath and Josh Freese to form Royal Machines. Billing itself as a “all-star covers fun-times band,” the group has been teasing these shows since its inception earlier this year and, not surprisingly, the shows sold out almost immediately. As for the band’s set, don’t be surprised to see the veteran rockers let loose by channeling their earlier incarnation, when they had a knack for inviting famous friends onstage. Also Saturday, Dec. 20. — Daniel Kohn
Mystic Braves, Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, Drinking Flowers
Here’s a holiday present for you: a Friday night with three stand-out bands from Lolipop Records, one of L.A.’s most potent underground psych/garage labels. (Literally underground, by the way: Their HQ is about 30 feet below Sunset Boulevard.) Headliners Mystic Braves do 1966 as resurrected by 2014, matching dissolute, Seeds-y vocals and Mysterians-style organ to the record-collector sensibilities of fellow heads Allah-Las or The Growlers. Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel deliver overcranked (in both spirit and sound), organ-led psych à la Shocking Blue or their obscuro idols Blue Phantom, while Drinking Flowers just dropped an EP of moody Brian Jonestown–ian psych, a sequel to their admirably gnarly Sanity Restored 1972 release last year. Consider it your last chance this year to take that trip. — Chris Ziegler
The Boyle Heights–based collection of DJs and musicians known as Subsuelo has been getting people on the dance floor in East L.A. every third Wednesday all year. Now they’re bringing the party to downtown. With this crew, hip-hop meets cumbia, blending in some tropical funk, flamenco and electro for a high-energy melting pot of a performance. To make it truly unique, renowned flamenco dancer La Tigresa brings her stamps and spins to the stage for an undeniably electric evening. Head to the Fig at 7th Holiday Sessions to see what L.A. Weekly named the “Best East L.A. Party” for yourself. — Britt Witt
Brian Setzer brings his Orchestra to the Nokia Theatre on Sunday.
Photo by Russ Harrington
Saturday, December 20
Stevie Wonder's House Full of Toys
Over the past two decades, Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys benefit has featured such guest stars as Chaka Khan, Alicia Keys, Corinne Bailey Rae and even Justin Bieber. But the biggest draw remains the host himself, who rarely performs in L.A. apart from this annual holiday concert. This year he’ll break out his landmark 1976 double album, Songs in the Key of Life, which he played in its entirety for the first time at last year’s benefit. More than 100 musicians — including George Benson, Minnie Riperton and Herbie Hancock — were involved in the original recording, which was layered with sophisticated horn arrangements and yielded such sunny hits as “Isn’t She Lovely?” and the Ellington homage “Sir Duke.” — Falling James
Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly
FOX THEATER POMONA
Nothing sounds less like Christmas than Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre growling surly slogans such as “This is the criminal age” on the Canadian industrial outfit’s latest album, Weapon. As bandleader cEvin Key cranks up his banks of synthesizers and robotic drum machines, Ogre chants tracks like “Illisit” and “Survivalisto” with foreboding menace. Ogre isn’t exactly evoking a winter wonderland with such guttural pronouncements as “A police state invents you” and “We’ll make you feel the Jim Jones vibe.” At times, Key’s backing bubbles with perky dance-floor grooves, but Skinny Puppy are far more interesting when he and guitarist Mark Walk turn up the volume and danger. Led by former Skinny Puppy member Bill Leeb, Front Line Assembly ditch the guitars and amp up the electronics on their new release, Echogenetic, which is by turns sinister and eerily beautiful. — Falling James
Sunday, December 21
The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Ex–Stray Cat Brian Setzer has found life after rockabilly by stepping forward into the past with a dazzling big band that rips up the roots of swing, jazz and early rock & roll. A warmly kitschy vibe pervades the Setzer crew’s annual Christmas really-big-show, which sees the nattily dressed guitarist-singer leading a brass-heavy ensemble in a compendium of classics from decades past, plus some Stray Cats stuff and a sprinkling of Christmas standards tricked out in appropriately swingin’ settings. This is a visually spectaclar extravaganza, done up all purdy and nice on a stage strewn with Christmas trees, giant wrapped gifts, a golden arch framing vintage video clips (hot rods, sock hops, dancing Santas), and a glimmering jukebox center stage. — John Payne
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