The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Week
Terence Blanchard -- See Wednesday
Friday, August 3
Quite possibly the most honest man in dubstep, Leeds-born, L.A.-dwelling producer Rusko has taken responsibility for the existence of the much-maligned "brostep" trend -- which is to say, injecting the dark atmospherics and effects of the original genre with a distinct high-energy aggression that seems to appeal to the, ahem, frattier among us. His latest album is tellingly called Songs, and while it relies upon a few familiar tricks (wonky bass, mechanical skronk), the record also incorporates playful Basement Jaxx-like house, melismatic R&B-style vocals and actual dub music -- the Jamaican kind. And no matter where you sit on the love-it-or-hate-it seesaw, Rusko throws a helluva show, barefoot and hopping wildly like a cartoon rabbit, wielding the power of the beat with a brilliant light display over his shoulders. Plus, dude just wrapped a collab with Cypress Hill, so a special guest could be in the cards. --Chris Martins
The big news out of Gary Richards' HARD events this summer is the L.A. firm's acquisition by concert-promotions behemoth Live Nation. Will the corporate alliance boost EDM's profile in the United States? Kill it? Time will tell. Until then, Richards is doing what he does best, beginning with the annual HARD Summer festival, which this year boasts a typically impressive lineup likely to appeal to hard-core dance heads and reformed rockers alike. Our picks to click for Friday: mutant hip-hop producer AraabMuzik, Swedish-American electro-popsters Miike Snow, daffy Detroit MC Danny Brown, reformed post-punks Bloc Party and an after-midnight set by -- oh yes -- Bootsy Collins & the Funk Unity Band. Also Saturday with Skrillex, Squarepusher, James Murphy and more. --Mikael Wood
Saturday, August 4
If the last name sounds familiar, congratulations, for you know something about jazz. Anything written about Ravi Coltrane (including this paragraph) usually includes a reference to his famous father, a perpetually awkward circumstance that the second-generation Blue Note saxophonist has managed to embrace with peaceful affection. Rather than trying to fill John Coltrane's giant shoes, his son simply removed them and took his own steps toward a distinct identity. Although his father wasn't alive to instruct him, the DNA of superior musicianship is evident in Ravi's beautifully even tenor sound and deftly controlled bursts of improvised brilliance. Take away the last name and what remains is an honest man and established jazz master. The band is an interesting departure from Coltrane's usual crew, featuring the innovative pianist David Virelles. Also Sat.-Sun. --Gary Fukushima
Sunday, August 5
DIIV, Part Time
DIIV's Zachary Cole Smith is obsessed with the deep rhythms of Krautrock and the downcast guitar anti-theatrics of Nirvana, but somehow his music comes out as a light thing -- airy but substantial, loose but effective. His Brooklyn band's debut album, Oshin, came out in June and it's already making waves for its uniquely aqueous vibes. Instead of relying upon synthesized grooves à la chillwave acts like Washed Out, DIIV keep the emphasis on the ax, strumming up cool layers of enveloping atmosphere, which Smith sings over in a lilting, echo-affected coo. Meanwhile, Part Time keep the focus on the keys, crafting a sort of lo-fi answer to '80s soundtracks and New Romantics. It may help to imagine Ariel Pink as Boy George, fuzzing up all that pure pop with the awkward aplomb of a true bedroom savant. --Chris Martins
It's hard out here for an aging emcee. Let's face it, rap is a young man's game -- after a certain point, growling aggressive lyrics, slurring your way through shows clouded with kush smoke and banging groupies on a tour bus just become pathetic. Kudos, then, to Juicy J of the legendary Memphis group Three 6 Mafia. Seven years after they won an Academy Award for the song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," Juicy J's still sipping syrup and making mixtapes where he shouts his signature phrase "Trippy, mayne" alongside many of hip-hop's coolest new characters. Late last year, he joined Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang Records and released the Blue Dream & Lean mixtape, which featured Lex Luger beats and young rappers like SpaceGhostPurrp and Casey Veggies. But the main reason to catch this is the crazy energy Juicy J brings to his shows: Three 6 Mafia's performance at Paid Dues this spring transformed the arena into the kind of rowdy scene usually only experienced in hole-in-the-wall clubs back in his hometown. --Rebecca Haithcoat
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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