The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Weekend
Friday, January 4
Los Cincos, Silver Daggers, et al, at The Smell's Quinceañera
When a truly DIY, all-ages space lasts for 15 years, you don't celebrate a birthday -- you celebrate a victory! So let's salute L.A.'s Smell, which has survived and even thrived to become a hometown institution. It's presenting a two-day blowout of reunion show after reunion show this weekend, featuring the bands who helped build it. Tonight, marvel at ahead-of-their-time '60s revivifiers Los Cincos (who probably would provoke a bidding war if they were reincarnated in 2012) as well as no-wave omnivores Silver Daggers, maximalists Godzik Pink and stripped-down, cranked-up riff-rawkers The Pope and Qui. Tomorrow, don't miss the intensely wild and weird Centimeters and Smell champions The Sharp Ease, as well as honorary out-of-town Smellers Get Hustle and the gloriously overstimulating Jesus Makes the Shotgun Sound, plus Pope and Godzik Pink redux and a DJ set by Allison Wolfe. --Chris Ziegler
Transplanted-to-L.A. Michigander Lord Huron (aka Ben Schneider) makes indie pop to fit the line where the horizon hits the sky -- big, beautifully endless songs that sunrise and sunset instead of just "starting" and "stopping." His debut album, Lonesome Dreams (on L.A. label Iamsound), is full of what the world calls anthems (which means songs you save for either the perfect end or perfect beginning of your mixtape -- and believe that if you're into Lord Huron, you still make mixtapes). These are world-pop guitar melodies that wrap around you like smoke, with an affection for the cinematic that makes this almost more a short film than an album. His set at the Natural History Museum will be like being inside the movie he's destined to one day make. --Chris Ziegler
While other bands play doom-metal, San Francisco's Neurosis plays apocalypse-metal. Band leaders Scott Kelly and Steve von Till have spent more than two decades crafting art-metal soundscapes that rely more on atmosphere than speed. There is little moshing to be found. Instead, a typical Neurosis song is a melancholy slow-burner that builds a sense of despair before morphing into a skyscraper of monstrous riffs and percussion, leaving listeners emotionally drained. Lyrically, Neurosis spin haunting tales of destruction, without falling into meathead bombs-and-bullets fetishization. They tell stories of biblical-level plagues and disasters from the perspective of a protagonist who has survived these things and lost all hope. The band's newest album is titled Honor Found in Decay, which sums up their approach to music and lyrics. --Jason Roche
Saturday, January 5
Keyboardist Mitchel Forman's career is marked by variety in both recordings and live appearances. On the live side, Forman's career has included stints with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Police guitarist Andy Summers and L.A. jazz legend Jack Sheldon, among many others. His own recorded work features original music ranging from hard-edged fusion to his latest album of vocalist duets (with the likes of multiple Grammy nominee Tierney Sutton) to a highly regarded tribute to piano giant Bill Evans. Forman's company tonight at Studio City's Baked Potato is a group of all-stars including Brandon Fields (Rippingtons) on saxophone, Walt Fowler (Frank Zappa) on trumpet and flugelhorn, Rufus Philpot (Planet X) on bass and Joel Taylor (Guitar Hero) on drums, plus a rare appearance from Headhunters percussionist Munyungo Jackson. --Tom Meek
Sunday, January 6
Saccharine Trust, The Deadbeats
Punk rock has become homogenized and increasingly irrelevant in recent years, with mainstream acts like Green Day and Blink-182 whining about insipid topics in fake English accents and churning out watered-down approximations of Johnny Ramone's mighty guitar sound. The funny thing is, the original punks were a far more diverse and intellectual lot than the campy, empty-headed characters trotted out in Billie Joe Armstrong's Broadway reduction of the punk movement. In the late 1970s, punk rock encompassed everything from The Germs and The Sex Pistols to Blondie, Devo, Television and The Slits. By the early '80s, the most adventurous punks were branching out into post-punk, art-rock, electronica, dub, reggae and jazz. The Deadbeats are most often remembered for their sarcastic 1978 attempt to start a cultural war, "Kill the Hippies" ("Send them back to San Francisco!" lead singer Scott Guerin cheekily suggested). But the oddball L.A. band took just as much delight in defying the expectations of early punks by blasting out art-jazz noise. Similarly, South Bay group Saccharine Trust fused a punk ethos with guitarist Joe Baiza's jaggedly funky jazz chords and singer Jack Brewer's Morrisonesque poetry. --Falling James
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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