This Week's Best Concerts: Nicki Minaj, Best Coast, Basement Jaxx, Television

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj
Courtesy of the BET Experience

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Friday, June 26

Nicki Minaj, Ne-Yo, Tinashe, Rae Sremmurd
STAPLES CENTER
Culminating in the BET Awards on Sunday night, the BET Experience brings four days and nights of concerts and fan-friendly events to the L.A. Live complex, including appearances by everyone from Kendrick Lamar to The Roots to Kevin Hart. But no BET ticket is hotter than this stacked lineup, headlined by the reigning first lady of hip-hop, Nicki Minaj. Traditionalists may cringe at the overt pop and EDM influences on recent Minaj hits “Truffle Butter” and “The Night Is Still Young,” but there’s no denying her skills as a performer and wordsmith, especially when she’s trading verses with Drake and Lil Wayne on a harder track such as “Only.” On his recent sixth studio album, Non-Fiction, Ne-Yo proved that he still has one of the smoothest voices in R&B, while rising star Tinashe brings intriguing touches of trap and bass music to her future-soul sound. Openers Rae Sremmurd should get the crowd going with their club bangers “No Flex Zone” and “Throw Some Mo.” — Andy Hermann

Alice Bag
LETHAL AMOUNTS
As leader of The Bags, Alice Bag was one of the most charismatic singers in the late-’70s punk scene, backed at the time by several talented musicians, including three future members of The Gun Club (Terry Graham, Rob Graves and Patricia Morrison) and guitarist-songwriter Craig Lee (a former music editor of L.A. Weekly). As with so many bands from that era, there is little recorded evidence of The Bags apart from a couple prized singles and rare tracks on Dangerhouse compilations. A few years ago, Bag penned a startling memoir, Violence Girl, which revealed what it was like to be a Chicana punk rocker bridging several clashing cultures in East L.A. In her new book, Pipe Bomb for the Soul, an idealistic Bag re-examines her American values after a dramatic visit to Nicaragua in the mid-’80s, which she’ll describe at tonight’s reading and performance. — Falling James

Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 27

The Roots Present Dilla Featuring Erykah Badu
CLUB NOKIA
Jimmy Fallon’s house band have a few notches in their collective belt, such as the privilege to have teamed with hip-hop’s freshest-ever producer, J Dilla. Prior to his 2006 death at the age of 32 from a rare blood disease, the Detroit-born Dilla, aka Jay Dee, aka James Yancey, had supplied kaleidoscopic, bumping sounds for The Roots, Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott, his own Slum Village and many others. These defining works brought those artists wide acclaim, and Dilla’s musically encyclopedic vision finally got proper respect in 2000 when he created hugely influential tracks for singer Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and rapper Common’s Like Water for Chocolate. As part of the BET Experience, Badu pairs up with The Roots tonight in loving tribute to the great producer. — John Payne

Lolipalooza 2
THE ECHO AND ECHOPLEX
Unlike its namesake, Lollapalooza, the second-annual Lolipalooza doesn’t require a trip to Chicago, and it’s considerably cheaper as well. When Lolipop Records’ daylong festival debuted last year, it was touted as a gathering of ostensibly psychedelic-minded bands, but it also worked as a fairly comprehensive overview of some of the best and brightest pop, punk and indie-rock groups in California. This year’s lineup encompasses the hazy psychedelic pop of White Fence, the drugged-out storminess of Cosmonauts, the angular post-punk riffage of Corners and the swarming punk bursts of San Francisco’s Useless Eaters. L.A. Witch has a more shadowy and haunting interpretation of punk rock, while Death Valley Girls’ “doom boogie” throbs with an unsettling, apocalyptic menace. The lineup is expansive enough to include power-pop icon Paul Collins and revived garage-rockers The Sloths, who don’t just sound like a ’60s band — they actually started in the middle of that decade.

Plus Froth, Part Time, Feeding People, Adult Books, Winter, Joel Jerome, Drinking Flowers, Kim & the Created, Dub Thompson, The Electric Magpie, The Molochs, Dante Elephante, Globelamp, Psychomagic, Billy Changer, The Resonars and others. — Falling James

Best CoastEXPAND
Best Coast
Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

Best Coast
THE WILTERN
Summer’s here, and the time is right for another show by hometown heroes Best Coast. Singer Bethany Cosentino is so enamored with the SoCal lifestyle (in a non-ironic way) that she titled the band’s second album The Only Place. Best Coast’s third album is called California Nights, and although there are occasional hints of restlessness on “Sleep Won’t Ever Come” and “Jealousy,” Cosentino is still unabashed about declaring her L.A. love on punky songs such as “Heaven Sent” and “Feeling OK.” Her musical partner, Bobb Bruno, takes the sunny hooks and garage-pop settings of their early days and expands on them with a greater range of shimmering sonic colors on the dreamy title track — which, at five minutes in length, is practically a symphony for this pop-minded duo. “California nights make me feel so happy, I could die,” Cosentino declares, as Bruno’s sparkling chords rain down on her. — Falling James

KJazz Summer Benefit Concert: A Swinging Tribute to Count Basie
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
Long Beach’s KKJZ, better known to its many fans as KJazz, is a local treasure, one of the few remaining radio stations in the country that broadcasts traditional jazz and blues 24/7. Its third annual benefit concert takes the form of a “swinging tribute” to legendary big band leader Count Basie, including a display of Basie memorabilia and a performance by four-time Grammy winner Gordon Goodwin and his 18-piece Big Phat Band, who channel the Count’s influences into zippy originals and covers of standards like “On Green Dolphin Street.” They’ll be joined tonight by two celebrated special guests: guitarist Lee Ritenour, who has worked with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Pink Floyd, and drummer Gregg Field, who has sat behind the kit for a who’s who of jazz luminaries, including Basie himself. Acclaimed L.A.-based vocalist Sara Gazarek and her trio open the show. — Andy Hermann

Sunday, June 28

Basement Jaxx, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Tuxedo
HOLLYWOOD BOWL
A decade ago, Basement Jaxx had a packed crowd of glowstick-waving fans dancing in the aisles of the Hollywood Bowl as they busted out a set of club hits in what may have been the party of 2005. They return to KCRW’s World Festival with four more albums’ worth of jams to their credit. On the duo’s latest effort, Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton build a house-heavy affair that surely will be amplified by their high-energy presence. Bootsy’s Rubber Band, featuring legendary bassist Bootsy Collins, brings the funk. You’ll be dancing by the time this groove-master hits the stage. Warm up your feet with openers Tuxedo, whose self-titled debut hits an electro-funk beat that will make any ’80s-music lover move. — Liz Ohanesian

Gary Wilson, Puro Instinct
THE ECHO
Just a few years after releasing his first album, You Think You Really Know Me, in 1977, eccentric funk-soul-pop singer Gary Wilson dropped out of public view. He was an unknown for several decades, until the mid-’90s, when fans such as Beck name-dropped him in songs and cited him as an underrated influence. But it took a long time before Motel Records tracked down the reclusive Wilson, who was working at an adult movie theater in San Diego, and several more years before the label reissued You Think and Wilson returned to performing live. Then or now, no one, not even Prince, has written such bizarre tunes as “Chromium Bitch.” Local pop duo Puro Instinct contrast with their heavily dreamy sound, as Piper and Sky’s voices swim in a swirling sea of reverb. — Falling James

Monday, June 29

Violent Human System, Rough Kids, Maniac, Kent State, Surprise Vacation
ALL STAR LANES
Crash the Clubs and Freak Out Mondays have got a big, boiling bucket of punk for you tonight, thanks to a roster of bands that surely all have the first Damned album and at least two Jay Reatard–related releases in every member’s record collection. (On original vinyl, of course.) Seattle’s Violent Human System (VHS for short) match a T.V. Smith–style affection for the unpredictable with overpowering, feral keyboards right off a Lost Sounds LP, while locals Maniac and Rough Kids turn in unpretentious punk with deft pop melodies and unflinchingly catchy choruses. Some Leave Home–era Ramones, some Bloodbrothers–era Dictators, some Buzzcocks — these are the necessary ingredients of a party that leaves marks on the walls, and maybe on the ceiling. With Kent State, who mine out the prime moments on the SST roster, and Beach Blvd.-iers Surprise Vacation. — Chris Ziegler

Tuesday, June 30

Alex Machacek Group
THE BAKED POTATO
Guitar virtuoso Alex Machacek has been splitting his time in recent years between teaching and recording in his native Austria and appearances worldwide, most recently with the seminal progressive-rock band U.K. on their final tour. Machacek’s original music is a hybrid of jazz, fusion and classical influences, helping create a genuinely unique style where conventional melodies are frequently mixed with the more avant-garde. This show marks Machacek’s first local appearance in more than two years. He’ll be joined by new bandmates Ben Shepherd on bass and Eric Valentine on drums; Valentine recently toured Europe with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, and is a member of Rodney Lee’s Satellite Orchestra. — Tom Meek

Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly
Photo by Casey McPerry

Wednesday, July 1

Machine Gun Kelly
HOUSE OF BLUES SUNSET STRIP
Over the past half decade, Cleveland-based rapper Machine Gun Kelly has built a devoted following with his careful blend of rap and punk. The heavily tattooed 25-year-old’s checkered past, which includes bouts with homelessness and heroin addiction, gets channeled into his raw lyrics, and his eclectic influences — including Blink-182 and Rise Against — have introduced him to an audience outside of hip-hop. He was named one of XXL’s “Freshmen to Watch” in 2012 and has worked with the likes of Lil Jon, Tech N9ne, Waka Flocka Flame, Wiz Khalifa and Bun B. MGK’s ode to his hometown, “Cleveland,” is the theme song for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, and he’s also appeared on WWE programming, which has only helped his profile grow as he readies a second studio album. — Daniel Kohn

Thursday, July 2

Television
TERAGRAM BALLROOM
When a band from New York City can headline an L.A. theater nearly 40 years after the release of their definitive album, that record must have been special. Indeed, NYC’s Television have managed only three studio albums since forming in 1973, and even their eponymous “comeback” effort was close to a quarter-century ago. 1977’s Marquee Moon remains almost synonymous with the band (though it was a commercial flop in the U.S.). Making an emotional connection as much through choreographed twin-guitar interplay as from Tom Verlaine’s semi-strangulated yelp, Marquee Moon was a post-punk album almost lost in the punk explosion: too accomplished and organized to be “true” punk, yet too Talking Heads–y perverse and blues-free to align with the era’s backward-facing arena rock. — Paul Rogers


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