The Best Concerts to See in Los Angeles This Week
Evan JewettMarnie Stern -- See Tuesday
For any show in town see our regularly-updated concert calendar.
Monday, April 29
If dub spelunker Keith Hudson had gotten hold of synth-punks like Suicide or The Screamers, or if Chrome and PiL had been melted together by cosmic rays into one shrieking hunk of post-punk man-machine, not only would music history be far more fascinating but there'd also be a quick and easy shorthand for the music of Merx. Since none of that happened, however, this L.A.-area band -- made up of members, tremblers, movers and shakers from The Pope, Bi-Polar Bear, The Spits and more -- must exist in a realm of mystery, making albums that sound like they were recorded at an abandoned Soviet numbers station and proving that paranoia is less a state of mind and more a state of being. Some bands write songs for radio hits, but Merx makes music for last known transmissions. --Chris Ziegler
Tuesday, April 30
Masaki Batoh's Brain Pulse Music
"Human beings lie but their brain waves never lie." So says Masaki Batoh, whose "Brain Pulse Music" is a live installation and performance featuring his custom-built Brain Pulse Music machine, which uses electronic and musical processes to "reconcile the spirit and the body." Batoh is the frontman of Tokyo prog/psych/art-rock band Ghost, and an acupuncturist by trade, and his research into the bio-electric functions of the human brain was partially inspired by the after-effects of Japan's recent earthquake/nuclear meltdown. You can try this aural therapy at home by checking out Batoh's recent Brain Pulse Music album, which features additional songs based on traditional Japanese folk music. (Proceeds from the sales of the album directly aid the disaster victims through Japan Red Cross.) Brain Pulse Music is a powerful and genuinely healing experience -- and couldn't we all use a little healing right about now? I think so. --John Payne
Marnie Stern, Qui
Each Marnie Stern song sounds like a hundred record stores at once, so densely are the tracks packed with ideas. On her fourth album, The Chronicles of Marnia, the New York guitarist refines her unique form of bubblegum prog, contrasting insane, finger-tapping flurries and loopy and looped layers of guitars with sweetly contrary vocals. "You don't need a sledgehammer to walk in my shoes," she advises cryptically on "Nothing Is Easy," as halos of light spiral around her head like caffeinated fireflies. The prophetically titled "You Don't Turn Down" slams with aggressively intricate grunge riffs before downshifting into gauzy pop interludes of ethereal cooing. With its flickering guitar signals and breezy vocals, "Still Moving" is a pop song for smart people with short attention spans. Speaking of short attention spans, arty noise-rockers Qui should provide an exalted distraction from boredom via the manic gyrations and gesticulations of frontman David Yow (The Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid). --Falling James
Just when occult metal seemed safely confined to Scandinavia's snowy forests, mysterious Texas trio Absu brings this dark art disturbingly close to home. After two decades of cult-classic releases, a slew of band members and a mid-aughts hiatus, drummer-vocalist Proscriptor McGovern is leading his latest lineup on its first full North American tour behind the ongoing trilogy of albums (2009's Absu, 2011's Abzu and the imminent Apsu). Hell, the black-clad lads even began the trek with a hard-to-picture record store meet-and-greet. Absu assault their conceptual, breathless 'n' restless, black-hearted death metal with somber fury, plague-swarm guitars and blur-speed beats made sinister by McGovern's eternally damned poltergeist yap. Current performances are divided into a career-spanning first act and a second section devoted to the phase-two section of Absu's 2001 watershed album, Tara. --Paul Rogers
If there's anything wrong with Cheap Trick, it's that you want even more from them. (But isn't that the case with all the greats?) Very few bands of the classic-rock generation still sound this good, so perhaps you can't blame Rockford, Ill.'s finest if they're on another nostalgia kick. In this case, they're celebrating the 35th anniversary of their breakthrough concert at Budokan with a run through that classic Tokyo set list in the El Rey's relatively intimate art deco ballroom. Although it hasn't been quite the same in recent years without dourly exacting drummer Bun E. Carlos-- who's now a non-touring member of the group -- Robin Zander still sings like a melodious hurricane, bassist Tom Petersson still adds some gritty glamour and main songwriter Rick Nielsen still spazzes out on guitar like an electrocuted teenager rather than a slick, antiseptic professional. Cheap Trick are far more than an oldies band, although you wouldn't necessarily know it from recent set lists, which are tilted toward the usual early hits instead of the brilliant newer songs on albums like Rockford and the aptly titled Special One. --Falling James
Wednesday, May 1
DTCPU uses ... computers? Synthesizers? Remote microphones half-stuck in the mud where the jungle melts into the beach? Because it must take a lot to make fuzzy-at-the-edges soundscapes that suggest Sun Ra, Vangelis and Terry Riley all flying in formation across the opening credits of Bladerunner. And if that isn't an image to bring these kind of blissed-out instrumentals to vivid life, then maybe we can throw the giant floating head from Zardoz in there, too. Really, these are field recordings from another world, or maybe just another time, colliding the chirps and cheeps of the forest primeval with the cheeps and chirps of the 8-bit synthesizer. Maybe he named recent release a Plane just so people would understand -- it's time to get high in the sky. --Chris Ziegler
Thursday, May 2
A native of NOLa's infamous Magnolia Projects, rapper and bounce music forerunner Juvenile rose to international hip-hop acclaim in 1998 with his first major-distributed release, 400 Degreez. The infectious, Mannie Fresh-produced "Back That Azz Up" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1999, making Juve and Cash Money affiliates The Hot Boys internationally celebrated rap icons. In 2008, Juve's life was permanently changed by the murder of his 4-year-old daughter and her mother in their home. In 2012, the resilient star released his 10th studio album, Rejuvenation. Also an actor, he starred alongside Christopher Walken in 2013 action crime drama The Power of Few. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
For any show in town see our regularly-updated concert calendar.
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