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Friday, April 24
EMPIRE POLO CLUB
Much like the Coachella Festival, country cousin Stagecoach has a little of something for everybody, for better and worse. For those who only get their country music from television, the ninth edition of Stagecoach proffers the glossy, pop-laden dreams of Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton; the other headliners include such similarly predictable acts as Tim McGraw, Jake Owen, Kip Moore and Dierks Bentley. With his surly delivery, hard-edged demeanor and laconically poetic lyrics, Bakersfield bard Merle Haggard represents an authentically roots-driven counterpart to all that Nashville fluff. In fact, the weekend’s highlights stray far from the Nashville pop factory, including rowdy new hope Sturgill Simpson, eerily evocative Americana duo The Handsome Family, beguiling onetime punk rocker Caitlin Rose and the heartfelt, folk-country harmonies of The Haden Triplets. Meanwhile, you’ll hear nary a twang from classic-rock survivors ZZ Top, George Thorogood and Eric Burdon.
Also Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26. With Tim McGraw, Jake Owen, Kip Moore, Merle Haggard, Kacey Musgraves, The Devil Makes Three, Parmalee, The Time Jumpers, Sturgill Simpson, The Handsome Family, Lydia Loveless, Pegi Young, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, Lindi Ortega and others. — Falling James
Starting as a b-boy, Lunice discovered the world of hip-hop through breakdancing and later booking and promoting local parties in his hometown of Montreal. Best known as one half of TNGHT, the production duo featuring Hudson Mohawke, the DJ and producer is bringing his unique sound to Create Nightclub in Hollywood. With releases on LuckyMe, Warp Records and Mad Decent, Lunice has been dominating dance floors with his hybrid of hip-hop and EDM-infused trap beats nonstop for the last five years. With newcomer producers Stwo and Wuki rounding out tonight’s lineup, you can expect to discover more unheard gems than you would via SoundCloud Explore. — Lina Abascal
Saturday, April 25
The Dead Milkmen
When The Dead Milkmen emerged from Philadelphia in 1983, they didn’t sound like other punk bands. At the time, most American punks were cranking out macho hardcore blasts, but the Milkmen leavened their zippy tunes with offbeat humor, jangling guitars and defiantly poppy hooks. The group’s most famous song, the buoyantly joyful “Punk Rock Girl,” doesn’t sound all that punk (although you can hear how the bratty vocals influenced Green Day and Blink-182), and “Smokin’ Banana Peels” has more of a new-wave feel and a funky beat. On last year’s Pretty Music for Pretty People, vocalists Rodney Linderman and Joe Genaro make fun of and/or name-drop Sylvia Plath, Jesus Christ, Ronald Reagan, hipster beards and child murderer Mary Ann Cotton. Somehow, even the most somber references turn relentlessly cheery once they’re mashed together in the Milkmen’s musical trash compactor. Also Sunday, April 26. — Falling James
EDYE SECOND SPACE
Pianist Fred Hersch is part of the generation of highly influential jazz artists who arrived after the golden age of jazz in the 1960s, new masters who have taught and inspired the current generation. Hersch was a rising star in the early ’80s, playing alongside Art Farmer, Joe Henderson and Stan Getz among others. Now he is a jazz piano guru, with a legacy of landmark recordings and a loyal army of disciples, including pianists Ethan Iverson, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer and Brad Mehldau. On the piano, Hersch is at once a hopeless romantic and a heavyweight; Moran likens him to basketball’s LeBron James. His playing is beautiful in a way that can disguise the intellectual heft it carries. If one imagines Brahms improvising, this is how it might sound. — Gary Fukushima
The Gears, The Horseheads
High-velocity late-’70s punk paragons The Gears still kick as hard as ever, a fact resoundingly underscored by their magnificent new album, When Things Get Ugly, and a splendid new documentary, Don’t Be Afraid to Pogo. But tonight also sees an unlikely and irresistible return by ’80s-era Hollywood trash-dope, freak-blues, swamp-punk rockers The Horseheads, a brilliantly unruly musical shock troupe so extreme that they made Gun Club look like The Partridge Family. Recently resurrected without original frontwoman Texacala Jones (who now lives in Austin) by co-founders Mike Martt and Greg “Smog Vomit” Boaz, The Horseheads doubtless will offer a fascinatin’ revisitation of one of the wildest bands of the era. Their set is also certain to be poignant due to the sad fact that we just lost original Horseheads drummer Rock Vodka — a very sweet, funny man — to cancer. Prepare to flip. And pogo. — Jonny Whiteside
Sunday, April 26
Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def)
The legendary emcee, award-winning actor and activist formerly known as Mos Def surprised fans recently by joining A$AP Rocky onstage at London’s XOYO club. The past two years have proved busy for the Brooklyn native, who has released the inventive Culturebox video series of MF Doom covers, revived Black Star with Talib Kweli and canceled a U.S. tour due to immigration issues. The American expat, who now lives in South Africa, was one of the few rappers in 2014 to publicly address U.S. police killings of unarmed blacks. Most recently, he’s coming off an appearance at Portland, Oregon’s 2015 Soul’d Out Festival with D.C. punk legends Bad Brains. Despite a string of recent performances that some critics have described as “patchy” and “bizarre,” fans know what the talented man is capable of. Tonight’s show also includes a performance by Cali’s own Fashawn. — Jacqueline Michael Whatley
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KXLU Fest II with The Muffs, Tony Molina, La Sera, Colleen Green
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY
Is two years too early to call it a tradition? Because here’s hoping the second annual KXLU Fest — currently following up last year’s inaugural No Age/Audacity–headlined event — becomes a thing. KXLU is in the sweet spot to present just this kind of poppy, indie, punky bill, and the weekend after Coachella is such a sweet time to kick back on a much smaller lawn and relax, too. L.A.’s much-loved Muffs headline this year, but make sure to make time for the visiting Tony Molina, who matches Teenage Fanclub angst and melody to jud-jud hardcore guitar riffs and Toy Dolls–meets–Thin Lizzy classical guitar runs — and all usually within 90 seconds or less. His recent Dissed and Dismissed LP is essential. Plus Colleen Green, spiritual descendent of, well, The Descendents, as well as La Sera and HaBitS, the new outfit from synth stalwart Dustin Krapes. — Chris Ziegler