This Week's Best Concerts: Barb Wire Dolls, Morris Day, Calexico

Smokey Robinson gets patriotic at the Bowl, July 2-4
Smokey Robinson gets patriotic at the Bowl, July 2-4
Courtesy of the artist

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

Friday, July 3

Smokey Robinson
HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Smokey Robinson would be considered a legend if only for the dozens of memorable songs he’s written or co-written as leader of The Miracles and in his long solo career. His personal hit parade ranges from such Miracles singles as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Going to a Go-Go” and “The Tracks of My Tears” to solo gems like “Cruisin’?” and “Being With You.” Of course, Robinson is far more than a songwriter, and he usually recorded the definitive versions of these oft-covered tunes by stirring up grand romantic emotions with his soulfully smooth tenor vocals. He’s joined by a small galaxy of guest stars (John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Steven Tyler, Elton John) on his most recent album, 2014’s Smokey & Friends, but there’s nothing like hearing the master sing by himself. Also Thursday, July 2 and Saturday, July 4. — Falling James

Rødhåd
LOT 613
Berlin’s Rødhåd built his DJ career on a reputation for seamless mixing and a record box full of rhythmic grooves laced with melancholy synth treatments — sounds that, to attuned ears, feel somehow euphoric, or at least cathartic. Beginning in 2010, he parlayed steady gigs at Berghain — the famous Berlin nightclub and nerve center of international techno culture — into a busy tour schedule that included recent appearances at Weather Festival (Paris) and Awakenings (Netherlands). In recent months, he turned out superb remixes of Daniel Avery and Howling (a collaboration between Ry X from The Acid and Âme’s Frank Wiedemann), and a new EP on his own label, Dystopian. Friday night’s performance for Droid Behavior will mark Rødhåd’s L.A. debut, as a pair of previously scheduled dates were canceled due to visa problems. He will be joined by two other formidable selectors, DJ Hyperactive and Subversive. — Matt Miner

Upcoming Events

Saturday, July 4

Dirty South
AVALON
If the Fourth of July isn’t enough of an excuse to party, Serbian-Australian house DJ Dirty South will be blessing Hollywood’s Avalon nightclub with an extended headlining set. The Grammy nominee could definitely use the extra set time to play his extensive catalog, which dates all the way back to 2004, when he started his career as a mash-up artist. After performing his live set to thousands of fans at Ultra Music Festival this past spring, Dirty South has embarked on a world tour hitting smaller, more intimate clubs between his summer festival circuit. From vocal, emotional house ballads to stadium-ready EDM remixes, Dirty South will have you partying to sing-along favorites, the ultimate post-game to your fireworks. — Lina Abascal

Author & Punisher
COMPLEX
The industrial/doom-metal sound San Diego musician Tristan Shone generates on his newest record, Melk En Honing, is a worthy successor to early-’90s genre greats such as Godflesh. But the instruments that he uses to inflict his metallic punishment are not your standard tools. Shone is a mechanical engineer who designs and plays custom-made, fabricated instruments that jump out of your worst steampunk-induced nightmares. Watching Shone lug his apparatuses onstage can be exhausting to watch. But to then see him work his machines live is awe-inspiring, as he almost disappears inside them. This is music that is both literally and figuratively industrial. His compositions are harsh doom-metal opuses that substitute the genre’s usual droning guitars for discordant synths. Shone’s tortured vocal shouts further give the music a darkened pall that is as depressive — and emotionally cathartic — as the more traditional greats of the genre. — Jason Roche

Sunday, July 5

Fourth Annual Riot Grrrl Carnival
THE SMELL
While much of the country revels in unabashed patriotism, backyard barbecues and the endless joys of exploding gunpowder this weekend, something far more subversive will be happening at the Smell’s Riot Grrrl Carnival. The annual holiday anti-fest gathers several of the city’s most stubbornly defiant punk bands, and it’s all to benefit Chicas Rockeras South East Los Angeles, a community organization that provides a nurturing environment for young women who want to play music. Trap Girl show how it’s done with fearlessly confrontational punk blasts such as “Bite Me” and “Dead Men Don’t Rape,” while coed Highland Park trio Las Sangronas y El Cabron prefer to rant at hardcore speed. Pardon Me Sir have a more diverse sound that ranges from confessional acoustic interludes such as “If I Talk” to pop-punk-surf collisions like the aptly titled “Contradiction.” — Falling James

Barb Wire Dolls are at the Whisky on Monday
Barb Wire Dolls are at the Whisky on Monday
Photo by Bob Gruen

Monday, July 6

Beach Party
THE ECHOPLEX
If you’re a fan of surf-punk parties, you’ve probably been missing Beach Party over the past few months. Laboring long and hard over their just-released EP Ripper, Beach Party kick off their comeback with a monthlong residency at the Echo — but going big for this first week and starting off downstairs at the Echoplex. They’ve shared stages with Best Coast and The Black Lips, but what makes them worth their own headlining gig is their relentless dedication to a good time and unchained, lo-fi surf jangles. Known for keeping company with such locals as Ty Segall, Feels, No Parents and Cherry Glazerr, this is definitely the kind of night you won’t want to miss. New York’s own surf rocker Juan Wauters sets the vibes. — Britt Witt

Barb Wire Dolls
WHISKY A GO-GO
With punk rock having morphed and re-morphed into increasingly self-conscious and sonically convoluted spinoffs (from post-hardcore to so-called screamo), there’s a predictable yearning for a return to back-to-basics, button-pushing brute force (see L.A.’s own OFF! for details). Relocated to Los Angeles from crisis-torn Greece, Barb Wire Dolls peddle midtempo, politicized punk made special by the versatile, post–Patti Smith vocals and relentlessly frantic performances of frontgal Isis Queen. Equal parts late-’70s CBGBs, UK82 punk and early grunge, BWD’s 2012 sophomore album, the Steve Albini–produced Slit, brilliantly balances style, statement and songcraft. Queen’s melodies and delivery linger long after the record’s final fuzzy chord has fizzled, but it’s her rant-fueled, air-punching stage persona that permeates and personifies these grippingly sincere revivalists. Their free Monday-night residency at the Whisky continues through July and August. — Paul Rogers

Tuesday, July 7

Lianne La Havas
THE TROUBADOUR
English singer-songwriter-guitarist Lianne La Havas recently told The Guardian that the long-awaited followup to her Mercury Prize–nominated 2012 debut, Is Your Love Big Enough?, the less acoustic Blood, is about “family heritage and bloodlines.” “Unstoppable,” the record’s first single, features La Havas over a groovy, sultry drum track while belting jazzily in full voice, “We are unstoppable!” The album enlists help from Aqualung’s Matt Hales, reggae/dancehall producer Di Genius, Howard Lawrence (Disclosure), Jamie Lidell and acclaimed producer Paul Epworth (Adele, U2, Coldplay). Although her sound, which features both strong, punchy vocals and airy vibrato, has been called everything from pop to soul, La Havas avoids labels: “I don’t think it helps. The music is what it is.” Blood is due out on Warner Bros. Records in July. — Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Calexico
THE REGENT THEATER
For the past two decades, the Tucson desert-noir ensemble Calexico have consistently reigned as the most satisfyingly ambitious American rock band going. Guitarist-singer Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino’s sun-scorched sonic treks are a plentiful, rich catalog of alt-country–tinged tunes with burnished-gold scents and flavors that balloon outward in fascinating (and tasty) weavings of cumbia, flamenco and mariachi, gently futuristic electronic bleepery, and even avant-ish contemporary classical tonalities, all the better to serve their probing flights into the beckoning desert light and its even pricklier nights. Check out the broad expanse of the Calexico sound/P.O.V. on their excellent new album, Edge of the Sun (Anti-), a nicely varied collection that lacks only the band’s familiar sense that something wicked this way comes. — John Payne

Wednesday, July 8

The Jennifer Leitham Trio
CATALINA BAR & GRILL
Jennifer Leitham’s story is so fascinating, it sometimes overshadows her impressive output as a veteran jazz bassist. For many years, Leitham was part of groups led by Mel Tormé and The Tonight Show’s Doc Severinsen, and she’s also backed such luminaries as Peggy Lee and Woody Herman. She was known as John Leitham for most of that time, but was secretly unhappy until she changed her gender identity while on tour and transitioned publicly into her truer self as Jennifer in 2001. The jazz establishment can be surprisingly conservative and sexist, but Leitham eventually gained acceptance after an arduous journey that was recounted in the 2012 documentary I Stand Corrected. On her new album, Mood(S)Wings, the upright bassist moves seamlessly from somber ballads such as “I’m Afraid the Masquerade Is Over” to a playfully breezy interpretation of The Beatles’ “You Won’t See Me.” — Falling James

Breakestra funk up the Hammer Museum on Thursday
Breakestra funk up the Hammer Museum on Thursday
Photo by Chuck Chilla

Thursday, July 9

Morris Day, Dam-Funk
SANTA MONICA PIER
With his 1940s-influenced look, singer Morris Day added retro cool to ’80s funk as part of The Time and his role as Prince’s antagonist in Purple Rain. The Time spent the early part of that decade releasing jam-filled albums such as Ice Cream Castle. (If you never heard the album’s title track, give it a few spins this summer.) In recent years, Day has had a career resurgence, most notably when he joined forces with Haim to perform perennial party favorite “Jungle Love” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year. Day has the perfect lead-in with opening artist Dam-Funk. As a DJ, the Pasadena-raised artist triggered a resurgence in boogie with his Funkmosphere parties. As an artist, he reimagined the sound of ’80s dance floors for the 21st century. — Liz Ohanesian

Breakestra
HAMMER MUSEUM
In music it all comes down to the beat, and Miles Tackett understands rhythm better than most musicians. As Music Man Miles, he’s pumped out nonstop sets of groove as a DJ at the Root Down and the long-running dance night Funky Sole. As a historian of music and the son of guitarist Fred Tackett, Miles saw firsthand how a piece of Fred’s Little Feat tune “Fool Yourself” could be repurposed years later into a catchy hip-hop drum sample by A Tribe Called Quest. And as leader of Breakestra, Tackett revels in the way those tight drum breaks from funk songs of the 1970s can be used to connect disparate styles of music. In fact, those breaks can become hooks unto themselves. In recent years, Breakestra have moved away from covering funk classics and begun creating their own insidiously danceable songs. — Falling James


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