The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Week
Diva -- See Thursday
Tuesday, December 25
Believe it or not, there are actually a few clubs open on Christmas. Over at Liquid Kitty in West Los Angeles, DJ Charlie X is spinning a no-cover mix of punk rock and various hits from that lost decade, the 1980s. Across town, at Viva Cantina in Burbank, the estimable Cody Bryant goes one better, performing a live set, which is also free. Whether backed by his full band, the Cody Bryant Experience, or strumming solo, the multi-instrumentalist can play a little bit of everything by just about everybody. Beyond dishing out his own "true-life originals ... and burning warp-speed steroidal bluegrass," Bryant is also a masterful interpreter of country and honky-tonk favorites. This would be a good deal any night of the year, but it's even better on an evening when most of the city is in holiday hibernation. --Falling James
Wednesday, December 26
A most unique employer of simile, metaphor and pun, Chino XL rose to hip-hop primacy at the tender age of 16 with his critically acclaimed 1996 debut, Here to Save You All. His lyrical brilliance, owing at least in part to his status as a verified member of Mensa, has been consistently demonstrated on all subsequent releases. The muscle-clad veteran emcee also has enjoyed consistent work as an actor, appearing on Reno 911 and CSI: Miami, among others. After a four-year recording hiatus, Chino released the 35-track piece RICANstruction: The Black Rosary in September. The introspective effort (released on Immortal Technique's Viper Records) tackles heavy topics including physical abuse, his daughter's battle with cancer and his own suicide attempt. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Speak!, Dr. Greenthumb
LOW END THEORY
Rapper Speak! is not only the guy who helped Kreayshawn write "Gucci Gucci." He's also a blunt-object-wielding smack-talker -- "the Jew sent from hell," as he put it on his Inside Out Boy mixtape -- with the kind of ferocious, tell-it-like-it-is perspective on the music industry you'd be tempted to call healthy, but for the riffs on drugs and fucking idiots up. Then again, that may well be the healthiest response to an entity that built a megabusiness with his concept for "Gucci Gucci," only to leave him behind, as he told our own Rebecca Haithcoat, "eating Spam for dinner." On his newest track "Hilfigers," he raps about how he's "still unsigned, pissed off and moody." ("Guess it runs in my bloodline," he explains.) But maybe there's no alternative: "What the fuck is normal? Just another word for passé." Tell it, Speak! --Chris Ziegler
Thursday, December 27
Riot Grrrl Xmas Carnival
It's four years in a row and counting for the annual Riot Grrrl Xmas Carnival at downtown's DIY show space the Smell, where local-ish bands sign on to raise money for the Downtown Women's Center. It's both a good cause and a fearlessly curated collection of bands: This year's lineup stretches from San Diego band Mermaid's no-waved noise-punk to The Anus Kings' starked-out folkisms, which are part of an album finished last year with help from Fidlar's Elvis Kuehn. (Also an album closing with a memorably solemn cover of Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl.") In between are the no-BS rockers Spare Parts for Broken Hearts, with members who served with distinction in corridor-cities stalwarts like Relish and The Randies, and brand-new band Smelveteen. All ages, of course, so there are mathematically zero reasons not to go out and support. --Chris Ziegler
What never-made cult movie did Diva fall out of? Probably one starring Annette Peacock and David Bowie just before he got huge, produced by Roger Corman and directed by Kenneth Anger, with Iggy Pop mooching around the craft-services table. This is cinematic music, yes, but from a film that's dissolving at the edges, or pop from ultra-chic import albums that David Lynch would loved, had they ever existed. Want this to be a little more concrete? That's not the Diva deal. "Dreamlike" is a term that gets used a little too casually, but this is the thing itself, asleep but walking nonetheless. Diva has shared stages with fellow astral explorers Sun Araw and Matthewdavid, but her recent Moon Moods reflects something else -- that strange moment between psychedelia and punk when music came from a slightly different world. --Chris Ziegler
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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