The Best Concerts to See in Los Angeles This Weekend
Okapi Sun -- See Friday
Credit: Pete Santos
For any show in town see our regularly-updated concert calendar.
Friday, May 10
EL REY THEATRE
There are no women on Rhye's debut album, Woman. If you mistakenly took Michael Milosh's androgynous voice for that of a female, however, you would not be alone. The soulchild of Milosh and Quadron's Robin Hannibal, Rhye has been dubbed the "electronic Sade." And like much of Sade's musical canon, Woman is a surefire pantydropper. Really, "seductive" is an understatement for the simmering, electro-laced R&B and overtly suggestive lyricism. The strings that usher in the stunning "Open" soon are knocked aside by Milosh's astonishing voice, the same instrument that brushes against the alluring horns of "One of Those Summer Days." It is not strictly temptation time on Woman, however; the disco-lite "Hunger" and "Last Dance" bump with gentle beats and keyboard stabs, while "3 Days" brings the dance party back to the bedroom with breathy anticipation. And speaking of anticipation, expect a packed crowd tonight, as Rhye have become a fan favorite and critical darling on the power of both Woman and their utterly captivating live performances. --Lily Moayeri
San Diego electronic-dance duo Okapi Sun describe their music as "a cut-and-paste of our past, our now, our culture, our soul. We decorate ourselves with sounds and let them form into songs." To put it more simply, guitarist Leo and keyboardist Dallas lay down catchy dance grooves and blend their vocals on deliriously giddy pop songs like "Sidewalk," coming off a little like a postmodern Bananarama. Dallas keeps things funky with her throbbing synth lines, while Leo's surging guitar chords prevent the tunes from sounding too poppy. Like its namesake animal, Okapi Sun "decorates itself with different stripes to become one with its surroundings and add to its great camouflage." What that means musically is that the duo isn't limited to the usual dance-music rules, preferring to branch out into stranger territory, like their mysteriously cool and groovy remake of "Hit the Road, Jack." --Falling James
Alan Ferber Expanded Ensemble
Over the past two years, NYC-based trombonist Alan Ferber has presented some of L.A.'s truly outstanding large-group jazz shows. Ferber's originals and arrangements are exciting enough to enlist the who's who of the area's best players, and they keep coming back for more. Tonight, pianist Josh Nelson and guitarist Anthony Wilson drive the rhythm section, while horn standouts include John Daversa, Katisse Buckingham, Walter Smith III, Jamie Hovorka and Phil O'Connor, among many others in this cast of West Coast ringers. Arrive early for a chance of getting a seat; this one will be out the door, for sure. Also Saturday, May 11. --Tom Meek
Saturday, May 11
Best known as the frontman for My Morning Jacket, Jim James has gone solo for his recent LP Regions of Light and Sound of God. Inspired by Lynd Ward's 1929 graphic novel, God's Man, James describes the album as a musical portrait of the novel as well as the product of his own introspection. The diversity in songwriting and overall sound on Regions of Light... is just as varied as with My Morning Jacket, but here James is singing of his own journey of personal change. The result is tangible and considerate music with an underlying message to build a life you are happy with. Onstage James is a force, a jam-rock shaman with a psychedelic, jazzified edge. He is still delightfully light at heart, however, channeling his love for the Muppets in the video for album single "A New Life," a song with a calm yet uplifting beat dressed in metaphors for, you got it, starting anew. --Britt Witt
Marina & the Diamonds
Considering that Marina Diamandis claims to be influenced by such adventurous musicians as Kate Bush, Patti Smith and Daniel Johnston, it's a little surprising that her own music is so slick and commercial. On shiny dance tracks like "Primadonna" and "How to Be a Heartbreaker," the Welsh singer comes off like any other ambitious synth-pop Material Girl, conflating love, lust, ambition and money as if they really are all the same thing. But there's clearly wit and intelligence bubbling under the sometimes-anonymous dance rhythms. "I guess you could say that my life's a mess, but I'm still looking pretty in this dress," Diamandis confesses amid the gaudy production adornments of "Homewrecker." One can only imagine the massive creative potential once this charismatic and smart diva breaks free from genre conventions and starts taking some real musical chances. --Falling James
Often credited as the world's first female dancehall deejay, Sister Nancy (née Ophlin Russell-Myers) has been an integral and beloved part of Jamaica's dancehall scene for more than 20 years. Her 1982 single "Bam Bam," sampled by such American hip-hop heavyweights as Lauryn Hill and Too $hort, is an internationally revered classic. In 2007, Sister Nancy released her second album, Sister Nancy Meets Fireproof. Ever the businesswoman, she enjoys a full-time career as an accountant in New Jersey and continues to perform occasionally at venues all over the world. Tonight, the Kingston native will be featured at the Dub Club event Saturday Night Rub-a-Dub. The show also features dancehall veterans Tristan Palma and Tippa Lee. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Sunday, May 12
HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY
At her show last summer at the Bootleg Theater, Chrysta Bell conjured her dreamy incantations while a nonstop blur of lost highways, blue oceans and flickering Milky Ways of light was projected on the wall behind her. Cocking her head enigmatically as she caught the spotlight and twisting her arms languidly into serpentine shapes, the singer was a mesmerizing performer, often closing her eyes and appearing to be captivated and intoxicated by her own lulling words. If the combination of evocative imagery and Bell's softly febrile vocals sometimes seemed like something out of a David Lynch movie, it wasn't a surprise, as the famous filmmaker has championed the charismatic singer and written songs for her as well. At one point in her performance, Bell reverentially intoned her romantic pleas as if they were prayers, casting them out into a sea of echoes and getting so worked up with passion that she artfully twisted a long silk scarf and twisted it around her head like a blindfold, becoming completely enshrouded by her own music. It was an enchanting state of being, to be sure. --Falling James
Always the butt of panty-flinging gags but rarely accorded the respect he has long since earned, Tom Jones' two-night stand at the tiny, venerable Troub is as exciting and unlikely an opportunity as the recent Stones show at the Echoplex. The leather-lunged lad from Pontypridd, Wales, is a deeply talented vocalist whose style remains a supercharged thunderball of charm, warmth and soulful, ass-shaking exuberance. From his romping mid-'60s monster hits to 1988's hot, taut cover of Prince's "Kiss" and on to his current mind-bending Spirit in the Room disc (which climaxes with an epic, four-minute-plus version of Mickey Newbury's psych-pop classic "Just Dropped In"), Jones unfailingly and unstintingly delivers the razzle-dazzling patented TJ ka-pow. The pipes are in great condition and he always carries a breathtakingly tight band, meaning this club date is almost too good to be true. In a perfect world he'd play here nightly, for a month, so we could all go. Also Saturday, May 11. --Jonny Whiteside
For any show in town see our regularly-updated concert calendar.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.