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Friday, March 20
SAN MANUEL AMPHITHEATER
The vernal equinox is here, which means it is time for the world of Lewis Carroll brought to life: Beyond Wonderland. The two-day affair starts early afternoon on a weekday. Tip for the bosses in SoCal: Some employees may be taking a half-day. Who can blame them, with Friday’s lineup including techno godfather Carl Cox, house queen Maya Jane Coles and trance flag-bearer Tiësto, plus perennial talent that pre-dates EDM: Green Velvet and Josh Wink. Saturday packs just as powerful a lineup. The leading drum ’n’ bass DJ on the globe, Andy C, brings his sharply carved set with his right-hand MC, Armanni Reign. Uber-producers Knife Party face off against their buddy Sub Focus, while Nicole Moudaber pumps out ferocious tunes. There’s a gentler side to Beyond Wonderland, too, with Poolside’s breezy selections, Soul Clap’s crafted house, Art Department’s deep tunes and DJ Jazzy Jeff, who is so much more than the Fresh Prince’s sidekick. Added bonus: Mash-up master Z-Trip performs both days, as does Cox. Also Saturday, March 21. — Lily Moayeri
A Club Called Rhonda featuring Junior Sanchez, Matias Aguayo
A Club Called Rhonda hits the crowd with a double-headliner bill likely to keep you running between Los Globos’ two floors. Remixer extraordinaire Junior Sanchez has added a midnight bounce to songs by everyone from Chvrches to Drake and Rihanna. The veteran house DJ takes top billing for the downstairs launch of local Jesse Rose’s new label, A-Sided Records. Rose and fellow Angeleno Brillstein will join him on the decks. Cómeme Records takes over the top floor, with label head Matias Aguayo leading the night. The globetrotting Aguayo’s L.A. gigs are always a treat for fans of more underground dance sounds. Also playing are Cologne-based DJs Lena Willikens and Christian S. — Liz Ohanesian
Saturday, March 21
John Doe & Exene
FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES
It might seem ironic that John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X would sing subversive anthems such as “Riding With Mary” and “Devil Doll” in a house of worship, but the First Unitarian Church has a long history as a haven for tolerance and liberal causes. In the past three years, it has become an intimate venue for secular concerts as well. Although X hasn’t released any new material since 1993’s Hey Zeus!, Cervenka and Doe have been fairly prolific in their solo careers. Strumming unplugged tonight, they should have more flexibility to mix up the set and perhaps include their enchantingly glittery remake of “The Unheard Music.” Robyn Hitchcock has long been one of power pop’s wittiest songwriters, but he comes off as vulnerably fragile amid the Psychedelic Furs and Roxy Music covers on his latest album, The Man Upstairs. — Falling James
New blood enabled old habits on Pig Destroyer’s last full-length, 2012’s Book Burner. Drummer Adam Jarvis’ debut reignited the short-sharp-shock tactics (19 songs in just 32 misanthropic minutes) of the band’s reputation-making, early-aughts onslaught. These Virginian grindcore godfathers birth their often sub–two-minute spasms slowly and painfully; five years passed between Book Burner and its more measured predecessor, Phantom Limb. Yet the songs themselves have a structured, super-disciplined urgency: Burner sounds like a record years in the writing that had to be recorded entirely during a commercial break. Always gritted-teeth grim and disconcerting to behold — Scott Hull’s eight-string guitars and J.R. Hayes’ world-hating vocal wrath caged in a forest of almost mathematically placed kick drums — Pig Destroyer injected fresh doom with the addition of its first-ever bassist, John Jarvis, in 2013. — Paul Rogers
With a mere two saxes and a drummer, Moon Hooch blast out a dancing sound that scrunches up jazz, rock, hip-hop and electronic dance music. Horn honkers Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen and drummer James Muschler studied at New York City’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and even their most party-down material makes it obvious that they’re heavy-duty players who could easily veer off into the obscurest of pointyhead jazzbo territory. But, as witnessed by their big, boss second album, This Is Cave Music (Hornblow/Palmetto), Moon Hooch prefer to bring the message in a rougher, sweatier and more pop-accessible form, the better to shake some action on the dance floor. Onstage, their innovations are a blast, too, such as adding PVC tubes or traffic cones to the bells of their horns to alter the sound. — John Payne
Sunday, March 22
THE REGENT THEATER
Only Kevin Barnes can make lyrics such as “The mutinous tramp of cold voltage crucifixion is my conduit” and “It must be fairly normal to devolve into cycloptic brooding” feel so joyously playful on “Bassem Sabry,” the opening track on Of Montreal’s latest album, Aureate Gloom. As with previous releases by the merry band from Athens, Georgia, the new album is a carnivalesque mélange of surreal lyrics and expansive music styles that slip freely from psychedelia and pop into prog and funk. Barnes attempts to soothe with muted vocals on “Empyrean Abattoir,” but strangeness is never far away as he croons “masturbating your father’s pain” in an oddly recurring mantra while the guitars spin into spider webs of jangling sound. “My dreams are corrosive,” Barnes admits on “Apollyon of Blue Room,” as a simple, Kinks-style riff contrasts with his complex and addled imagery. Also at Largo, Monday, March 23. — Falling James
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Cello-based rock music is nothing new, as anyone who’s ever been to an Apocalyptica or Rasputina concert can attest. But the sheer virtuosity with which Croatians Luka Šuli? and Stjepan Hauser tear through covers of “Smooth Criminal” and “Welcome to the Jungle” blows away any easy comparisons to those other groups. On their third album, the recently released Celloverse (Sony Masterworks), the classically trained duo gives new meaning to the term “shredding”; in the video for their jaw-dropping rendition of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” they play with such unbridled fury that, by the end, their bows are reduced to tatters. They’re equally adept at beautiful renditions of statelier tunes, such as Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” and even manage to transform Avicii’s saccharine EDM anthem “Wake Me Up” into a pretty power ballad. — Andy Hermann