The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Weekend
Friday, August 31
Mark de Clive-Lowe
As one might expect from a hapa Japanese-New Zealander who arrived in L.A. via Boston, New York and London, this keyboardist/DJ/music producer is a complex synthesis of musical styles and cultures. Mark de Clive-Lowe honed his craft in the United Kingdom with the likes of all-star broken beat crew Bugz in the Attic and produced for both British soul sensation Omar and Grammy Award winner Jody Watley. What sets de Clive-Lowe apart from his contemporaries are his formidable keyboard chops and deep roots in jazz and classical music. His latest album, Renegades, is a tour de force, but he is best experienced live, where he effortlessly spins samples, drum beats, piano and keys and a live band into a tight aural choreography. With the right DJ, dancing and art music really do mix. --Gary Fukushima
Niki and the Dove
Among the many improvements that might have been made to Randall Poster's dodgy new Fleetwood Mac tribute album, none seems simpler than the addition of Niki and the Dove, a Swedish electro-pop outfit whose singer, Malin Dahlström, channels primo-era Stevie Nicks in all the right ways. Throughout the band's just-released debut, Instinct, Dahlström softens a mystic imperiousness with disarming traces of theater-kid sensitivity; she also pulls off the sequins-and-feathers look more believably than anyone actually on Just Tell Me That You Want Me. Do Niki and the Dove's own tunes stand up to the Mac's best? Nah. But "In Our Eyes" and "The Drummer" -- both of which you can expect to hear at the Echo, where the group will launch a North American tour -- make a valiant effort. --Mikael Wood
Saturday, September 1
There are so many bands and so many storylines running like mini soap operas through this two-day festival of punk, indie and alt-rock musicians. Day one, Saturday, features such headliners as Swedish hardcore brigade Refused and French electronic saboteurs M83, but the show could just as easily be stolen by the thrilling Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells, whose intense sonic upheavals are sweetened by charismatic frontwoman Alexis Krauss' serene vocals. Look for more sparks from Kurt Cobain's favorite Scottish group, The Vaselines, and a set from newly revitalized locals Redd Kross. Sunday is headlined by the world-beat dabbling of Beirut, as well as Omaha indie-rockers The Faint (whose pal Conor Oberst appears with Desaparecidos), but more intriguing plots involve punks Against Me!, whose lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, changed her gender from male to female earlier this year -- a brave and truly punk-rock act that has only added more depth to the Florida group's music. And how will the newly revamped Norse death-punk jokesters Turbonegro fare without their seemingly irreplaceable singer Hank von Helvete? Inquiring minds need to know. --Falling James
The Last Bison
Considering the mainstream success of superficially similar indie folksters The Decemberists and Mumford & Sons, it's something of a surprise to find Virginia's The Last Bison at the compact Hotel Cafe. At once epic and intimate, great-outdoorsy and fireside cozy, the group sways between classical music's involved, aloof arrangements and folk's off-the-cuff vigor and strummy inclusiveness. Though the band is seven strong (featuring both traditional folk and classical instruments), instantly charming tunes like "Switzerland," with its wonderfully music box-y backbone, would be lost without frontman Ben Hardesty's rumpled, mountain-top timbre -- he's a sound eccentric and escapist, yet he's capable of chilling for-your-ears-only connection. With its sophomore album (including rerecorded cuts from last year's Quill) due early next year, this might be a final chance to get within petting distance of The Last Bison. --Paul Rogers
Sunday, September 2
Rebecca Pidgeon and Madeleine Peyroux
Madeleine Peyroux, a versatile vocalist of stunning chops and smart style, has a quiet fire, but she equally stands out for her intriguingly catholic taste. Peyroux always brings something definitive to her wide-ranging forays through the jazz, American roots and folk songbooks, all heard to inspiring effect on her recent Standing on the Rooftop album (Emarcy/Decca). Meanwhile, singer-songwriter-actress Rebecca Pidgeon's recent Slingshot (Decca/Universal) is another side of this same coin, making the year's best argument for "easy listening" music with complex, poignant songs of love, despair, hope and redemption. Pidgeon's songs are decidedly of the adult variety, offering depths to ponder even as you bathe in the revitalizing cool of her crystalline voice. --John Payne
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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