This Week's Best Concerts: Lupe Fiasco, The Kooks, Make Music Pasadena

Hanni El Khatib: see Friday
Hanni El Khatib: see Friday
Courtesy of the artist

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Friday, June 5

Hanni El Khatib, Chicano Batman, Avid Dancer
“All my life, I’ve been fighting for the moonlight,” Hanni El Khatib declares on the title track of his latest album, Moonlight. “People are disgusted by the things that seem to scare them; it’s a shame,” he continues, as he drives through murky shadows, which are lit up by clean dance chords and trails of fuzzy guitar. The shadows also surround him on the lonely, bluesy “Worship Song (No. 2),” but the local singer-guitarist finds love and redemption when the fuzz guitars return with a garage-rocking catharsis on “Melt Me.” Chicano Batman cast a distinctly different spell with sun-dappled soul reveries from their 2014 album, Cycles of Existential Rhyme. Bardo Martinez’s waves of keyboards are a positively groovy backdrop for Carlos Arévalo’s funky guitar accents. Meanwhile, Avid Dancer singer Jacob Dillan Summers searches for truth and love in his yearning indie-pop songs. — Falling James

Agent Orange
Back in the mid-1980s, you couldn’t find a cooler figure in the local music underground than Mike Palm. The Agent Orange singer-guitarist had somehow survived the Lord of the Flies chaos of the early Orange County hardcore-punk scene with all his faculties intact. In fact, he emerged even sleeker and more powerful, digging out iconic riffs that fused raw punk savagery with the controlled intensity of surf music. On Agent Orange’s classic 1981 debut album, Living in Darkness, Palm had already revealed more melodicism than the other hardcore bands through such timeless teenage-wasteland anthems as “Everything Turns Grey” and the world-weary title track. Just a few years later, Palm was mixing mod, pop and garage-rock influences into such underrated gems as “I Kill Spies” and a rampaging cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Even without any recent new albums, Agent Orange remains a stirring force of nature. — Falling James

Miami Horror
Miami Horror are coming home. Well, sort of. Since releasing their 2010 debut, Illumination, the Australian electronica outfit have been splitting their time between Melbourne and Los Angeles, mining the City of Angels’ rich musical soil for inspiration on their sophomore effort. The result is All Possible Futures, an eclectic, 15-song collection of post-disco, pop and rock songs influenced by the likes of New Order, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac, all proving the quartet’s decision to take a slightly different path was a good one. Anyone who’s been to a Miami Horror show knows a dance party is inevitable, and no doubt that will still be the case; but expect a little more introspection for the band’s pseudo-homecoming. — Katrina Nattress

Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 6

Make Music Pasadena with Nick Waterhouse, Avid Dancer, Kishi Bashi
Every June, the streets, shops, restaurants, playhouses and galleries of downtown Pasadena are transformed for one day into a gigantic, interconnected festival of music. Dozens of performers from all music genres take up seemingly every corner of space available along more than 20 blocks of Colorado Boulevard and nearby side streets. Best of all, each concert is free and open to all ages. Soul revivalist Nick Waterhouse makes his stand at the Levitt Pavilion, while Avid Dancer, local indie-rockers Sir Sly and the gently psychedelic pop of singer-violinist Kishi Bashi (Of Montreal, Regina Spektor) headline the Old Pasadena Colorado Mainstage. Little Wolves and Kera & the Lesbians cavort on the Playhouse District Stage, while Pasadena Symphony pops up in Centennial Square. Roots rockers such as Skip Heller hole up at Monopole Wine, and a diverse mob of psych-rock and indie-pop stylists parade through the Old Towne Pub, among many other venues. — Falling James

Bomba Estéreo
Simón Mejía made music for several years in his hometown of Bogotá, Colombia, as part of the music and art collective A.M. 770, before he started the band Bomba Estéreo in 2005. However, the group really took off when he began working regularly with singer Liliana Saumet, who brightened Mejía’s sound with her charismatic vocals. Bomba Estéreo was already unique in the way that Mejía pumped up traditional cumbia rhythms with electronic-dance production. What was already an infectiously danceable combination became positively ebullient once Saumet began chanting energetic tracks such as 2009 single “Fuego.” On their upcoming album, Amanecer, Mejía lays down dub bass lines and layers serpentine, Manu Chao–style guitars over Saumet’s engaging dance-pop vocals, creating a hypnotic combination of influences. — Falling James

DJ Colette was still in her teens when she started promoting club nights, so one can safely assume that the house specialist’s own birthday party will be off the hook. To celebrate her 40th year on Earth, Colette and pals will be tearing up the decks at King King. At a recent gig at the Viper Room, the L.A.-via-Chicago DJ had the crowd packed in tight and grooving in unison fairly early, so be prepared to break a serious sweat on the dance floor. This gig comes in the midst of a string of tour dates across the United States and Canada for the DJ/singer and will include local party-starters Nonfiction, Adam Auburn and Christi Mills. Get there early and let the beat take you through the rest of the night. — Liz Ohanesian

Sam Prekop: see Monday
Sam Prekop: see Monday
Photo by Archer Prewitt

Sunday, June 7

Nneka’s recently released album, My Fairy Tales, is no fantasy. The Nigerian-German artist uses her songs to bring awareness to political plights, particularly those of her African home country. Shifting away from hip-hop beats into softer sounds, Nneka’s scratchy-voiced, globally conscious prayers are delivered in a deceptively comfortable casing. She offers up Afrobeat and jazz inflections on “Babylon,” masking her painful lyrics in percussive rhythms, then shifts into the island vibes of calypso with “My Love, My Love.” The reggae swing on “Surprise” is reminiscent of Musical Youth’s infectious 1980s hit “Pass the Dutchie,” as she sings about counting your blessings, a thematic vein she continues with a ska skip on “Pray for You,” which also addresses Boko Haram’s violent acts in Nigeria. — Lily Moayeri

Monday, June 8

Sam Prekop
Better known as the singer and guitarist of Chicago’s The Sea and Cake, Sam Prekop has recently begun issuing recordings of his work with modular synthesizers. As showcased on the just-out album The Republic (Thrill Jockey), Prekop’s custom-built assemblies of oscillators, sequencers, filters and twirly knobs seem sympathetic to his well-regarded gifts for distinctively rich melodies, responding to his sharp-eared fine-tuning with warmly analog sounds that offer both precisely focused forms and happy electronic accidents. Prekop’s slightly off-kilter musical instincts bring these mechanical patterns, repetitions and sundry sounds to wonderfully expansive life, paying tribute to electronic music’s avant-garde past while expanding the electronic vocabulary in supremely musical and highly accessible ways. (Note that this show has been moved from El Rey to Hotel Cafe.) — John Payne

Tuesday, June 9

Lupe Fiasco
Over the years, Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco has never shied away from controversy. Whether taking on rappers Azealia Banks and Kid Cudi on Twitter or sharing his outspoken, antiestablishment views on the U.S. government, Fiasco hasn’t been afraid to stand up for what he believes. In January, the rapper released his fifth studio effort, Tetsuo & Youth, which had been in the works since early 2013. Lauded for both its layered sound and lyrics, with guest appearances by Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian, Nikki Jean, Ab-Soul and Ty Dolla $ign, the new album showcases how rapper Fiasco has matured, with songwriting that reaches the heights many predicted when he first emerged nearly a decade ago. — Daniel Kohn

Wednesday, June 10

The Kooks
With last year’s soulful, funky and often improvised Listen, The Kooks delivered a daring departure from their previously super-articulate Brit-pop, underlined by hip-hopper Inflo’s supple yet spartan co-production and newbie drummer Alexis Nuñez’s versatile, not-just-rock chops. The vibe-y, stylistically restless album (which flirts with everything from gospel to The Blockheads) is a welcome hose-down after 2011’s deflating Junk of the Heart, yet it’s disarmingly distant from the English quartet’s relentlessly melodic and marvelously wistful career-opening salvos (2006’s Inside In/Inside Out and ’08’s Konk). Onstage, where main man Luke Pritchard becomes a disheveled ringmaster, The Kooks deftly meld all of the above into a timeless rock & roll show that still has few peers. — Paul Rogers

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: see Thursday
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: see Thursday
Photo courtesy of Smash Japan

Thursday, June 11

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
It’s been 10 years since Philadelphia-based Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released its debut album, catching the wave of post–punk-influenced bands with tunes such as indie dance jams “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” and “In This Home on Ice.” CYHSY’s sound has evolved over the years; their 2014 release, Only Run, is an artier affair, with big synth moments packed into short, tight songs. But that debut still holds a special place in fans’ hearts. To celebrate a decade of existence, Alec Ounsworth — the group’s one constant member — is taking the album back on the road. The self-titled debut was recently rereleased, with a vinyl edition hitting streets just a week before the Troubadour gig. CYHSY will be playing the album in its entirety but will include other material in the set. — Liz Ohanesian

Tootie Heath 80th Birthday Celebration
Albert, the youngest of the famous Heath Brothers (with bassist Percy and saxist Jimmy), is one of the last of the great drummers from the golden era of jazz. He bridged the heyday of bebop into the diverse forms that followed, recording with, among others, John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Don Cherry and Herbie Hancock. Heath is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to pianist Ethan Iverson, who invited him to play in a trio several years ago, leading to recent recording Tootie’s Tempo, Heath’s first album as a leader in 15 years. Another pianist, L.A. resident Richard Sears, has taken a cue from Iverson, writing a tribute to Heath in the form of a suite, which premiered at the 2013 Angel City Jazz Festival with the honoree himself on drums. Heath will once again join Sears and his ensemble for this birthday milestone. — Gary Fukushima

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