The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Weekend
Foxygen perform at the Roxy this Friday and Saturday.
Photo by Cara Robbins
Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!
Friday, January 2
Los Angeles–based duo Foxygen’s third album, …And Star Power, is a self-indulgent experiment in sonic excess that has been met with both acclaim and derision. A 24-track, 82-minute opus, …And Star Power stretches over four thematic suites whose titles (“Hits and Star Power,” “Paranoid,” “Scream: A Journey Through Hell,” “Hang on to Love”) are based on their creators’ whims rather than the lyrics or music. The album moves from the Stones and Velvet Underground sounds of Foxygen’s well-received, pop-accessible last album into Todd Rundgren–like soft rock, but it remains decidedly lo-fi throughout, as if the two were just noodling in the garage in a stoned haze with the record button on. Best to make an abbreviated playlist of the wildly disparate singles: “Could Have Been My Love,” “How Can You Really,” “Cosmic Vibrations” and “Hang.” Also Saturday, Jan. 3. — Lily Moayeri
The Smell 17-Year Anniversary Party
L.A.’s longest-running DIY venue is turning 17! To celebrate what is truly a significant feat, the downtown mecca is pulling out all the stops for a weekend full of jams. Day one features several bands that got their start at the Smell, such as “Grilled Cheese” crooners Cherry Glazerr and stripped-down punk duo Girlpool, as well as a few of owner Jim Smith’s favorites, including the synth-heavy Roses and Moaning, featuring members of now-defunct Moses Campbell. Day two features Mia Doi Todd, Carla Bozulich and Fig, the new project from Cibo Matto’s Yuka Honda. With special guest DJs, vegan cupcakes by Clara Cakes and promised surprises, this is a victory lap you’ll want to run (and by run, we mean rock out to). Also Saturday, Jan. 3. — Artemis Thomas-Hansard
CATALINA BAR & GRILL
Wishing for her youngest son to have a better fate than his musician father and brothers, Alex Acuña’s mother kept her husband from teaching the boy music. But it’s hard to fight destiny, and Acuña’s was to become one of the great percussionists of all time. He somehow combines the deep clave rhythms found in Peruvian, Brazilian and Cuban music with the white-hot precision of Tony Williams and the raging fire of Elvin Jones. With a single phone call from keyboardist Joe Zawinul, Acuña became a superstar, as he and bassist Jaco Pastorius helped Weather Report become jazz’s own version of The Beatles. Acuña will be joined tonight by bassist Abraham Laboriel, pianist Joe Rotondi and guitarist Ramón Stagnaro, with Acuña’s own daughter, Regina Acuña-Williams, on vocals. Apparently her father is more optimistic about a career in music than her grandmother was. — Gary Fukushima
Saturday, January 3
When a band indulges in full-length performances of one of its old albums, it’s often a sign that it has already moved away from creative vitality into harmless nostalgia. But with ongoing revelations about CIA spying and torture, and the United States seemingly in a permanent state of war, Anti-Flag’s 2003 album, The Terror State, is, sadly, as relevant as ever. Tonight, lead singer Justin Sane and his Pittsburgh punk group tear into such furious broadsides as “You Can Kill the Protester, But You Can’t Kill the Protest” and “Operation Iraqi Liberation” alongside their juiced-up reggae makeover of Woody Guthrie’s “Post-War Breakout.” Long affiliated with organizations such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International, Anti-Flag obliterate any potential criticism about being too preachy through the sheer force of their head-banging choruses and relentlessly fast tempos. — Falling James
Nina Shallman has such a lovely voice, it almost doesn’t matter what she’s singing. The local singer-guitarist reveals a nimble touch and jazzy delivery on standards such as Bob Wells and Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song,” and she even recasts The Smiths’ “Ask” as a languidly sugary pop idyll. But Shallman is just as engaging in her own songs. “Stay still on the grass/Let me feel your fingers lace through mine,” she coos invitingly. “Meet me halfway/Sing those notes that tickle my spine.” Buoyed by her own harmonies and judicious guitar arpeggios, Shallman makes such small romantic details feel sumptuous and grand with the help of producer Andrew Williams. On ballads such as “The Moon Can Stay,” she breaks hearts with little more than sparse piano accents, the faraway swoon of violins and her wistfully ethereal vocals. — Falling James
Pity Sex are at the Echo on Sunday.
Photo by Danielle Parsons
Sunday, January 4
American Nightmare (Give Up the Ghost)
EL REY THEATRE
Unless you’re a diehard fan of Boston hardcore punk band Give Up the Ghost, you’d be surprised to learn that they’re playing one of their two scheduled reunion shows at the El Rey. Performing as American Nightmare, their original handle before getting a cease-and-desist from a band of the same name, the group has made only a handful of appearances since reforming in 2011. Before they split, the punks were one of the most well-received hardcore bands of the early 2000s. Their first two records, Background Music and We’re Down Til We’re Underground, landed them at the forefront of the post-hardcore movement, which experimented with longer songs and a more progressive sound. Given the limited number of shows the reformed band has played, don’t be surprised if this is their last set in the area for some time. — Daniel Kohn
The joys of Michigan’s Pity Sex are in the details; the quartet’s ostensibly easy-to-tag emo/indie template is in fact strewn with shards of self-examining shoegaze and down-tempo punk. Debut album Feast of Love, released in 2013, kicks off like melancholy, melodic early Weezer (“Wind Up”), but the record’s guitar tones soon get Smashing Pumpkins–gritty and Brennan Greaves’ lurking vocals become downright maudlin (“Sedated”). Pity Sex’s all-trumping curve ball is when second singing guitarist Britty Drake chimes in, her glacial timbre transforming the band from bedroom introspection to outdoorsy, borderline folksy escapism (“Hollow Body”). And when Greaves and Drake trade off, as on the relatively boisterous “Drown Me Out,” Pity Sex truly becomes its own animal — curled-up and comfy, but with massive, serrated teeth. — Paul Rogers
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