This Week's Best Concerts, in Handy Playlist Form

Thundercat: see Sunday
Thundercat: see Sunday
Photo by Timothy Norris

It's another great week for live music in Los Angeles, heavy on the punk rock with the It's Not Dead Festival as well as headlining gigs by The Dickies and Redd Kross. Electronic music fans can look forward to Jamie xx and a rare U.S. performance by British glitch pioneers Autechre, while jazz aficionados can catch bass prodigy Thundercat and an evening of the music of Thelonious Monk as part of the Angel City Jazz Festival. Follow L.A. Weekly Music on Spotify for all our concert calendar playlists, and read below for more details on this week's concerts and festivals.

Friday, Oct. 9

Chinese Indie Night
The Regent Theater

Here’s a Culture Collide Festival performance that lives up to the name: Several high-profile Chinese bands — with their own individual takes on Western indie fundamentals — share a bill. Considered and deliberate folkie Song Dongye is probably the best known of them, at least in China, so let’s look instead at the undercard. New Pants — helmed by the polymathic Peng Lei, a filmmaker and artist of international note — have a synth-heavy sound that would be right at home on the U.K. pop charts somewhere in the mid to late ’80s. (Check their 2009 song “Mr. Director” for an uncharacteristic — and energetic — guitar-driven freakout, however.) And although the Miserable Faith song “No” somehow recalls Rage Against the Machine, there’s a lot more subtlety and space in the rest of their discography. — Chris Ziegler

The Dickies
Alex's Bar

These court jesters of rock & roll rarely get as much respect as more ostensibly serious punk bands, but The Dickies nonetheless continue to make thrilling, savagely witty music nearly 40 years after they first crawled out of the San Fernando Valley. Far from being mere joke musicians, singer-keyboardist Leonard Graves Phillips and guitarist Stan Lee can deftly segue from deliriously giddy power pop (“Rosemary”) to momentous prog-rock grandeur (“Caligula”). But they get more attention for the ruthless way Lee’s crushing guitars transform pop ephemera and classic-rock warhorses by The Moody Blues, The Left Banke and even The Banana Splits into newly euphoric, supersonic-paced masterpieces. The ever-deadpan Phillips populates The Dickies’ own songs with rude allusions to a surreal cast of celebrities and other mythological creatures including Marlon Brando, the Dalai Lama, Barney Rubble and Sammy Davis Jr. — Falling James

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Saturday, Oct. 10

It's Not Dead Festival
San Manuel Amphitheater

The somewhat hypersensitive slogan “Punk’s Not Dead” has been spray-painted on alleyway walls and freeway underpasses as far back as the early ’80s, when the then-new music style suffered the first of its many presumed deaths (as the initial wave of urban punk rockers gave way to a growing mob of suburban hardcore kids). Punk has been dying ever since — sometimes gloriously, more often mawkishly — and this sprawling festival encompasses many of the genre’s ongoing contradictions. The lineup is an almost random assortment of bands from the past and present, ranging from still-thriving originators such as The Adolescents, Descendents, T.S.O.L., The Dickies and Agent Orange to ardent second-wave acolytes like Anti-Flag, NOFX, Left Alone and 7 Seconds and more predictable acts like Bad Religion and Goldfinger. Refreshingly, funk-punks Fishbone, ska-soul stalwarts The Untouchables and ska revivalists The Interrupters will be on hand to recall the musical diversity of punk’s early days. — Falling James

Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble, John Beasley's MONK'estra
Musicians Institute Concert Hall

Thelonious Monk didn’t go to graduate school; he never even finished high school. But education is the foundation on which the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble continues to build jazz awareness for future generations. Nearly all graduates of the all-star combo program that is commonly referred to as the Monk Institute have become leading voices in the jazz community and industry, a track record better than that of American Idol or The Voice. One thing Monk did was play in his own big band on occasion, and pianist John Beasley follows in the footsteps of Hal Overton and Oliver Nelson in arranging Monk’s compositional masterpieces for jazz orchestra, playfully colored by Beasley’s fun-loving persona. Also on the bill is John Beasley’s MONK’estra, which has quickly become a fan favorite, playing at Disney Hall, the Central Avenue Jazz Festival and the SFJAZZ Center. Surely Monk would be amused and delighted at all of this hulla-ba-lue-bolivar, which is part of the Angel City Jazz Festival. — Gary Fukushima

Jamie xx: see Sunday
Jamie xx: see Sunday
Courtesy of the Windish Agency

Sunday, Oct. 11

Jamie xx
Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall

One-third of atmospheric indie darlings The xx (and, some might say, the mastermind behind their captivating, ethereal sound), Jamie xx emerged this year as one of the most versatile producers in the industry with In Colour, a shimmering debut that fell right into the pockets of fans of The xx and carved out — or, rather, blew down the wall with a thousand tons of dynamite — a new niche of admirers. The man has an expansive repertoire of musical sensibilities, and he’s a virtuoso with beat and rhythm, creating a spectrum of moods on In Colour that’s as multifaceted and gorgeous as the album’s prismatic cover. From the solemn yet hopeful “Loud Places” to the unsuspecting banger “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” Jamie xx’s music will make you feel and dance and laugh and meditate all at the same time. Also Monday, Oct. 12. — Artemis Thomas-Hansard

The Regent Theater

Thundercat is just a dude — Stephen Bruner — and his bass, but they sure do make some groovy music together. An excellent live performer, Bruner is having a big year: He collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly, and his mid-June release, The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, is filled with funky, danceable tracks such as “Them Changes,” featuring Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington. Bruner picked up the bass after his dad played him Jaco Pastorius’ “Portrait of Tracy.” The jazz legend’s influence is clear in Bruner’s style, but he makes all kind of music, working with everyone from Erykah Badu to Suicidal Tendencies, his brother’s band. Thundercat’s live performance finally puts his underrated bass lines in the spotlight. Jaco would be proud. — Sascha Bos

Redd Kross
The Echoplex

Supercharged siblings Steven and Jeff McDonald’s Redd Kross has always been one of Los Angeles’ most elemental, reliably brilliant rock & roll bands. From their late-’70s launch, at the tender ages of 11 and 15, respectively, the McDonalds have mastered a bubblegum-in-overdrive sound that’s incapable of disappointing the band’s fans. With a measured yet manic zeal, Redd Kross mixes spot-on musical instincts with a show-stopping stage presence. Following a far-too-long MIA period, their 2012 re-emergence, with the delicious Researching the Blues album, proved that Redd Kross’ shiny, shaggy genius just gets better and better. — Jonny Whiteside

And So I Watch You From Afar: see Monday
And So I Watch You From Afar: see Monday
Photo by Ciara McMullan

Monday, Oct. 12

And So I Watch You From Afar
Teragram Ballroom

A rare good advertisement for indulgent math-rock, Northern Ireland’s And So I Watch You From Afar are themselves best watched from nearby, their studio albums to date only sporadically living up to the quartet’s famously throbbing live sets. ASIWYFA’s twinkling yet chunky stringed interplay can certainly sound like scale practice, yet the repetition produces exotic, steel drum–like sensations and, when joined with occasional gang vocals, a hypnotic, cultish aura akin to the more ADHD elements of Polyphonic Spree. This is patient yet unpredictable stuff, with gaping, mostly instrumental expanses unnervingly punctuated with sobering gasps of silence and stabs of unifying bombast. Despite shamelessly revisiting certain sonic stunts, And So I Watch You From Afar cover sufficient emotional ground on this year’s Heirs to be counted among Europe’s most intriguing postrock exports. — Paul Rogers

Tuesday, Oct. 13

The Wiltern

Some fans of Sparks might have been confused when the pop duo brought Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos onstage as a guest during their orchestral lark at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in February, but the combination of Kapranos’ vibrant vocals with Sparks frontman Russell Mael’s nimbly quick, reedier singing was an unexpected delight. The two groups reportedly have been collaborating for years, and they’ve combined their considerable forces for FFS, which is both the name of their band and their debut album together. It’s a shame that the record hasn’t caught on yet in the public imagination — this show was recently downsized from the larger Hollywood Palladium to the relatively intimate Wiltern — because FFS is that rare supergroup project that really works, with tracks such as “Police Encounters” that feverishly twine Franz Ferdinand’s urgency with Sparks keyboardist Ron Mael’s madcap whimsy. — Falling James

Kurt Vile: see Wednesday
Kurt Vile: see Wednesday
Photo by Marina Chavez

Wednesday, Oct. 14

Kurt Vile & the Violators, Cass McCombs
Fonda Theatre

Kurt Vile & the Violators sounds like the name of some generic, mildly offensive punk rock group, but what’s shocking is that the Philadelphia band aren’t shocking at all. Instead of being in your face and rude, Vile and his band lull with gently engrossing shuffles and ballads. That’s not to say the Violators are sleepy. They spin together deceptively simple, mesmerizing riffs that set up a languidly trippy backdrop for Vile to fall into, such as 2013’s “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day.” On their latest album, b’lieve I’m goin down?..., a web of interlocking guitars laces together Vile’s ruminations to hazily enchanting effect on “Pretty Pimpin’” and “Life Like This.” Cass McCombs is another singer who’s more likely to stir up moments of psychedelic wonder when he's lingering along forgotten rural roads instead of blazing down electric highways. — Falling James

Thursday, Oct. 15

Fonda Theatre

Formed in 1987, legendary U.K. experimental techno act Autechre (composed of Rob Brown and Sean Booth, both from the Manchester area) remains on the cutting edge of electronic dance music. To date, the duo’s catalog numbers a dozen LPs all released on Warp Records, the imprint it (along with labelmate Aphex Twin) made famous during the ’90s with classic albums like the cold, crunchy Tri Repetae. With tracks given confounding titles such as “Dael” and “Rotar,” it’s a prime example of the pair’s rhythmically complex machine music, occasionally washed with gentler ambient-techno melodies. Equally striking are Autechre’s dynamic live sets, which are performed in total darkness, completely improvised and defined by angular, bone-jarring drum patterns reshaping over and over. — Matt Miner

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