The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Week
Death Grips -- See Thursday
Tuesday, December 4
Sometimes you gotta amend "never again" to "just once more," especially when there's a good reason, and this completely unexpected reunion of L.A.'s Starvations didn't come easy. It's a benefit for writer Joseph Mattson, author of a much-acclaimed novel and book of short stories, as well as liner notes for Starvations' front man Gabe Hart's current band, Jail Weddings. As previously mentioned in these pages, Mattson is mired in a truly tragic legal battle with the man who killed his mother. So tonight you can join the good fight. It's led by L.A. greats who chased the same weird ghosts as Charlie Feathers and Nick Cave, who loved 1920s murder ballads as much as choice 1970s punk, and whose indestructible iconoclasm allowed them to survive, and then thrive, for an uneasy decade. This almost certainly will be your last chance to see this band -- but The Starvations were always at their best when it came to last chances. --Chris Ziegler
Wednesday, December 5
Guilty Simpson, House Shoes
Detroit comes to L.A. via rapper Guilty Simpson and DJ-producer House Shoes, both heavyweights in their hometowns and much loved locally, too. The transplanted-to-L.A. fixture House Shoes -- the dude who had a connection with every great dude ever, up to and including Dilla -- finally put out his first album, Let It Go, this summer, and it's full of intricate and idiosyncratic beats and precisely chosen guest spots. And of course Simpson was one of those guest spots, hooking up two tracks between his O.J. Simpson collaborations with the legendary Madlib and the just-out Dice Game with fellow Detroiter Apollo Brown. Between the two of them, this'll be hip-hop at its grittiest and most powerful. That's how they make it in Detroit. --Chris Ziegler
See also: House Shoes Offers His Rules For DJs
The son of the great R&B bandleader Johnny Otis, singer/multi-instrumentalist Shuggie Otis was surrounded by a dazzling blend of influences when he was growing up a wunderkind guitarist. But Shuggie ultimately outdistanced even his dad by virtually inventing his own soulfully groovy form of R&B in the '60s and '70s, creating a kind of psychedelic pop that proved an obvious inspiration many years later for Prince and Lenny Kravitz. A song like "Strawberry Letter 23," from Otis' landmark 1971 album, Freedom Flight, still sounds fresh today, as the singer walks merrily through a blissful garden of bell-like chimes and flurries of intricately whirling, almost proglike guitar. The reclusive musician rarely performs, which makes tonight's gig a very special occasion. --Falling James
Thursday, December 6
Sacramento hip-hop-and-beyond group Death Grips make freaked-out music for (or from) a future by Burroughs or Philip K. Dick. It's about resisting control and contamination, finding the greatness in what other people consider garbage and staying one step ahead of everybody who's out to get you. Maybe that's what got them bounced from their major-label contract after barely six months -- a ride that finished recently with Death Grips putting their brand-new NO LOVE DEEP WEB up for free download before it was even officially for sale. Not sure if that was a "fuck you" to the industry or more of a vigorous "fuck it" to the world, but seems kinda inevitable now: Major labels release records, but Death Grips release viruses. No wonder the deal blew apart. --Chris Ziegler
Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza
For years, The Polyphonic Spree have staged colorfully unconventional holiday spectacles back home in Dallas. Having just released their first Christmas album, Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays Volume One, the whimsical, be-robed collective is taking that show on the road. What to expect at this all-ages musical circus? Besides the Spree doing a set of blissed-out renditions of holiday standards ("White Christmas," "Silver Bells") and a later rock set, the kindie music act Gustafer Yellowgold will perform, as well as a potpourri of eclectic acts. Past shows in Dallas have included bell choirs, zoo animals and tap-dancing grandmothers. A Donny & Marie Christmas, this ain't. --Michael Berick
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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