This Week's Best Concerts: Wattstax Revisited, Underworld, Bell Biv Devoe

Dick Dale: see Friday
Dick Dale: see Friday
Photo by Lana Dale

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

Friday, June 19

Dick Dale
WHISKY A GO-GO
Legendary ax man Dick Dale’s rampaging guitar was an unprecedented upshift in rock & roll. The six-string maverick not only defined Southern California’s surf culture and spawned an entire new musical genre, he also displayed an instrumental eloquence and reach that exploded the idiom’s limits. Dale’s richly communicative musical assault was inspired — he genuinely wanted to re-create, with his instrument, the experience of surfing, and a high-volume playback of his classic “Let’s Go Trippin’?” is as reliably exhilarating as shooting the curl or taking the drop off a 10-foot wave. Heavily rhythmic, soaked in reverb, Dale’s singular brand of aggressive artistry is altogether unique, and now (he is pushing 80, after all) would be a good time to get your fill of it. — Jonny Whiteside

Jonathan Richman
EL REY THEATRE
There have been at least three different incarnations of Jonathan Richman over the years. First, in the early 1970s, he was the leader of The Modern Lovers, who were Boston’s sardonic answer to The Velvet Underground, with starkly moving ballads like “Hospital” interspersed with such euphoric, proto-punk anthems as “Roadrunner.” By the mid-’70s, Richman had tired of electricity, volume and rock & roll in general and he adopted a stubbornly lo-fi, acoustic persona. Gone too were the dark themes of “Hospital,” replaced by cheery, kid-friendly pop ditties such as “Ice Cream Man” and “Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprechauns.” Backed by longtime drummer Tommy Larkins (Naked Prey), Richman has evolved in recent years into a romantic troubadour who occasionally croons Spanish ballads on such albums as O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth and Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild. — Falling James

Upcoming Events

Surfer Blood
THE TROUBADOUR
They may be short one charismatic guitarist (Thomas Fekete, who is ferociously fighting a rare cancer), but that hasn’t stopped Surfer Blood from charging forward. The Florida-based surf rockers are touring in support of their fresh release 1000 Palms, a return-to-form album (following 2013’s disappointing Pythons) that vacillates between dark instrumentals and the sunny melodies you’d expect. The darkness plays off quite well live, however, offering breaths between bouncing beats and making room for meticulous riffs to take the spotlight. Hopefully they’ll throw back to their cover of The Pixies’ “Gigantic,” but hearing “Dorian” live is almost worth the whole ticket. Local psych-rockers Gothic Tropic will provide the warm-up set. — Britt Witt

Trevor Anderies
MORYORK GALLERY
A converted grocery store in Highland Park is home to a new gallery owned by Bob Breen and Clare Graham. Graham calls himself a “craftsman” rather than an artist, knowing the latter usually necessitates the former. Accordingly, the gallery now programs music of the highest craftsmanship and artistry. Drummer Trevor Anderies learned about craftsmanship from his father, Joe, a jazz musician and college professor in Denver, perfecting his art at CalArts and afterward through his growing, glowing musical career. Best known for his work in the prog-jazz band Slumgum, Anderies is releasing his second solo album, Promise of a Tree, featuring his fiancée, Alina Roitstein, whose classically trained improvisations make opera singing fun again. The album features Anderies’ thoughtful compositions and a few Great American Songbook standards, repurposed like many of the common items transformed into artwork by Graham’s crafty hands. — Gary Fukushima

Kamasi Washington, appearing as part of Wattstax Revisited: see Saturday
Kamasi Washington, appearing as part of Wattstax Revisited: see Saturday
Photo by Mike Park

Saturday, June 20

Wattstax Revisited
GRAND PERFORMANCES AT CALIFORNIA PLAZA
Loomin’ large in the annals of pop music is the Wattstax concert that was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum in August 1972. Organized by Memphis’ Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots, the event presented the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Richard Pryor, The Dramatics (“What You See Is What You Get”), Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, The Emotions, The Bar-Kays, Rufus Thomas and many other African-American stars of the day. On the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots, “Wattstax Revisited” pays tribute to the power and glory of that original event with an all-star lineup of musicians, comics, DJs and dancers including vocalists Jimetta Rose, Nia Andrews, N’Dambi, Dustin Gwarren, Anderson Paak, John Bigham, Kadhja Bonet, Loren Oden, Fanny Franklin and Chris Pierce; the heavy-duty stage band features rising-fast tenor sax boss Kamasi Washington. — John Payne

Shannon & the Clams
THE GETTY CENTER
Shannon & the Clams have come a long way since they started in 2009 as a humble trio in Oakland, and now they’ve gone from playing what they affectionately call “local slime dives” to headlining a world-class museum. When they began playing live, retro bands weren’t taken seriously by most critics, but within the past six years, garage rock has undergone an unexpected resurgence. It probably didn’t help that lead singer Shannon Shaw was initially associated with shambolic and silly punk parodists Hunx & His Punx, but she’s finally come into her own as leader of the Clams, belting out such dream-laden girl-group reveries as “Sleep Talk” and “Rip Van Winkle.” Guitarist Cody Blanchard and drummer Nate Mahan attack Shaw’s melodies with a garage-rock rawness that keeps the songs from becoming too poppy. — Falling James

Sunday, June 21

Underworld
HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Underworld is always ahead of its time and difficult to compartmentalize. The British duo relies on the electronics savvy of Rick Smith, but it is frontman Karl Hyde’s observational lyricism that makes them stand out among the EDM cognoscenti. Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Underworld’s seminal album, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, with a remastered reissue expanded to a five-disc set. The hefty package features previous singles, remixes, unreleased recordings and a rehearsal session. This year Underworld’s chart-topping cover of Frankie Knuckles’ “Baby Wants to Ride” with Heller & Farley and The Misterons benefits the deceased house godfather’s charity. Underworld kick off KCRW’s World Festival Series by bringing their dynamic live show to the Hollywood Bowl for a second time, in their only scheduled U.S. appearance of 2015. — Lily Moayeri

See also: From Organic '96 to the Hollywood Bowl: The L.A. History of Underworld

Louie Vega
SOUND NIGHTCLUB
“Little” Louie Vega is perhaps best known to dance-music aficionados as one half of Masters at Work, the acclaimed house-music production duo (alongside partner Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez) that turned out massive crossover remixes for pop royalty including Michael Jackson and Madonna in the 1990s. The Bronx native and Grammy-winning producer’s distinctive brand of house is inspired by a diverse range of genres, from Latin American and African music to hip-hop and jazz. Vega’s four-hour DJ set Sunday night at Sound promises to weave a multicolored tapestry from styles as disparate as breakbeat and R&B. Get there early for a two-hour listening session featuring Vega’s latest album, Louie Vega Starring … 28 Artists, 28 Songs. — Matt Miner

Nightjacket: see MondayEXPAND
Nightjacket: see Monday
Photo by James Pillion

Monday, June 22

Tennis System, Nightjacket, The Flash Hits
THE ECHO
Tennis System takes over the Echo for a free residency this month, pumping out hazy, fuzzy new songs such as “Ungrown.” Singer-guitarist Matty Taylor croons in a yearning voice even as his guitar stirs up a mesmerizing swirl of punky distortion and shoegazer noise. Bassist Zach Bilson and drummer Hector Gomez hammer out uptempo grooves like “Dead Honey,” from Tennis System’s recent album, Technicolour Blind, with a cathartic power that keeps Taylor anchored to the earth even as his head spins in the clouds. There’s something gently lulling about the way Nightjacket chanteuse Holland Belle confides dream-pop ballads like “It’s Alright” with a sweetly rueful intimacy, while the rest of the local band sparks appropriately shimmering chords. Fellow locals The Flash Hits rumble onward with post-punk bass lines that segue into throbbing moments of exotic psychedelia. — Falling James

Tuesday, June 23

PPL MVR
LOS GLOBOS
Do you know who PPL MVR are? Neither do we. Actually, nobody does. And that’s what makes this band so damn intriguing. Picture if you will three self-described ancient species that aren’t yetis or aliens (though they sure do look like both) showing off windmill guitar riffs and karate kicks onstage. That’s right, these guys (or girls?) perform in full-body costumes. Vocalist-guitarist SNWBLL even gives interviews in full costume, using an intricate system of in-suit microphones and a voice modulator to keep up the charade. Though the band’s origin has not been revealed, they sure spend a lot of time in Los Angeles and will be putting on their next live show spectacle at Los Globos. So even if you’re not a huge fan of gritty rock & roll and vocal manipulation, go for the beasts. — Katrina Nattress

Wednesday, June 24

Los Crudos
UKRAINIAN CULTURE CENTER
Hardcore band Los Crudos dominated the DIY underground in the 1990s, broke up in ’98 before they lost any of their fire, and then unexpectedly reunited for a few precisely chosen occasions in recent years. This appearance coincides with a particularly historic Crudos moment: the release of their vital discography on double-LP vinyl by punk zine-of-record Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll. It’s 70-some minutes of absolutely corrosive music by an unflinchingly political band that started as four Latinos from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and went on to tear a hole across the side of the planet through relentless touring, righteous activism and uncompromising lyrics — all in Spanish except “We’re That Spic Band,” an annihilating answer to disgusting, English-only punk disgruntlement. So let’s not call it a comeback — with Crudos live and on vinyl, this is more like a welcome counterattack. — Chris Ziegler

Thursday, June 25

Bell Biv Devoe, Doug E. Fresh
CLUB NOKIA
The third annual BET Experience takes over L.A. Live with an ambitious booking schedule that has unlikely pairings sharing the same stage on the same night. The Experience’s first music event, featuring Bell Biv Devoe and Doug E. Fresh, does just that. Both artists’ heydays are in the past, but even without new material, they remain fan favorites. Bobby Brown’s former New Edition group-mates embraced New Jack Swing and had several hits in their own right, most notably “Poison,” “Do Me!” and “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?” Those songs remain staples on urban radio. Opener Doug E. Fresh is an old-school beatboxing legend who is reportedly working on a new solo album, which would be his first proper full-length since 1995. — Daniel Kohn


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