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

Tennis play the Troubadour on Friday
Tennis play the Troubadour on Friday
Courtesy of Sacks & Co.

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Friday, May 1

"A single syllable contained my history,” Alaina Moore declares on Tennis’ third album, Ritual in Repeat. “Never knew one word could mean so much to me.” The word she’s talking about is “love,” and Moore gushes about it with unrestrained joy as her husband, Patrick Riley, pushes her forward with a bouncy bass line. The Denver duo’s love of love is infectious, but Moore makes sure things never get too corny by channeling her exuberance through thoughtfully evocative lyrics. “She believes that sacred things don’t need explaining,” Moore continues on “Needle and a Knife.” Even when she imagines an “apocalyptic Earth split open,” the mood is still buoyant and hopeful, thanks to Riley’s sparkling guitars and Moore’s soothing layers of sweet harmonies. Tennis are even more affecting on “Wounded Heart,” which is stripped down to just Riley’s acoustic guitar and Moore’s intimate vocals. — Falling James

The Urinals
“This song is a virus/It’ll drive your neighbors insane,” singer-bassist John Talley-Jones promises on The Urinals’ new album, Next Year at Marienbad. “This song re-sequences DNA/You’ll spend many long nights in the throes of transformation.” Like a virus that adapts to different environments, The Urinals have been mutating ever since they formed in a UCLA dorm in 1978. They started out making lo-fi recordings played on toy instruments, but soon evolved into writing clever, minimalist art-punk bursts with unusual chord changes and cryptic lyrics. Over the decades, the trio has remained relatively obscure even as its songs have been covered by The Gun Club, No Age, Yo La Tengo, Minutemen, Butthole Surfers and METZ. They’ve influenced better-known bands like Sonic Youth and have been championed by Faith No More, who asked The Urinals to open one of their shows last week at the Wiltern. — Falling James

Talk in Tongues
Formed less than a year ago, Los Angeles quartet Talk in Tongues’ whirlwind start hasn’t had an adverse effect on their debut album, Alone With a Friend, whose psychedelic dreaminess often draws comparisons to contemporaries Tame Impala and Temples. This sound was established from the group’s first single, the swirling “Still Don’t Seem to Care,” recorded the day after Talk in Tongues’ first gig. That track also nods to the shimmers of My Bloody Valentine, which echo throughout Alone With a Friend on such tracks as “Who Would’ve Guessed.” “She Lives In My House” buzzes with a driving rhythm and “Something Always Changes” balances that with sugary harmonies. The Byrds would be happy to hear these guys interpret their legacy. Opening for The Bright Light Social Hour. — Lily Moayeri

The Decemberists headline the Greek on Saturday
The Decemberists headline the Greek on Saturday
Photo by Autumn de Wilde

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Saturday, May 2

The Decemberists
After a four-year hiatus, The Decemberists returned in January with their seventh studio album. Since their formation in 2000, the Portland quintet has played a crucial role in making the city a hub for indie music. Despite the long break between albums, Colin Meloy and company have built off the critical and commercial success of 2011’s The King Is Dead. The new sound the indie-folk outfit showcases on What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is leaner and more pop-oriented than its previous efforts. At this stage of their career, The Decemberists are unafraid to test themselves sonically, and their reward is the continued, steady growth of an already supportive fan base. — Daniel Kohn

John Zorn Marathon
Los Angeles has a sizable musical audience for avant-garde/free jazz, nurtured in recent years by the annual Angel City Jazz Festival beginning in 2008, and by Little Tokyo’s Blue Whale jazz club since 2009. One of the genre’s leading voices, multi-instrumentalist and composer John Zorn, makes his first area appearance in 25 years on Saturday. The ultra-ambitious program begins with 10 groups at LACMA from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by a three-band lineup at UCLA’s Royce Hall at 8 p.m., topped off with a midnight solo organ recital. The Royce Hall show includes sets by Abraxas, Secret Chiefs 3 and Zorn’s band Bladerunner, featuring bassist Bill Laswell (Last Exit) and drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer). Saturday might even be better described as an orgy, rather than a marathon, for those so enamored. — Tom Meek

Manic Street Preachers
Some people might think that Manic Street Preachers’ best work is in the past, especially after their talented but troubled guitarist-lyricist Richey Edwards seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth (and is now presumed dead) after departing the Welsh group in the mid-’90s. But founding members James Dean Bradfield, bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore have continued onward, and their latest album is defiantly titled Futurology. “We never really went away,” Bradfield sings. “One day, we will return no matter how much it hurts.” Bradfield and Wire still dig out new-wave riffs that sound like they came straight from the ’80s, but their focus now is on the present, even as they acknowledge the pull of the past: “Old songs leave long shadows.” — Falling James

Sunday, May 3

Lightning Bolt, Liturgy
Sheer bedlam is the order of the day as two exponents of nu-noise sounds show off their wares. Rhode Island’s Lightning Bolt debut songs from Fantasy Empire (Thrill Jockey), the iconic duo’s first album in five years, which finds them wielding their mere bass and drums for maximum mayhem. The Bolt’s sonic screech has been recorded for the first time in righteous hi-fi, and the enhanced clarity sets aural fire to their staggering speed and intricate interplay. Brooklyn-based labelmates Liturgy refer to their stuff as “transcendental black metal,” a suitably nebulous term for the band’s feral turf-churning in a place located somewhere between avant rock, bleakest blackest metal, Steve Reichian new music and ecstatic ritual. They’ll be cranking ambitious, frenetic sonorities from their recent album, The Ark Work. — John Payne

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