Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From the spectacle of Savannah Pope to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, here are the 12 best music shows in L.A. this week.

fri 9/21

Savannah Pope


Savannah Pope doesn't just put on a show — she puts on a full-fledged, full-blown theatrical spectacle. The local singer treats her own body as a canvas as she wraps herself up in a cloud of feathers and pearls, her face slathered boldly in arty streaks of makeup and glitter. Pope belts out powerful vocals that are as big and brassy as her visual presentation is colorfully fantastic. As a solo performer, she continues in the same bombastic '80s glam-rock style as her former band SpaceCream, alternating hard-rocking tracks such as “Nefarious Lothario” with the power ballad “Pterodactyl Sky” and the darkly moody “Leave Dracula Alone.” Amid the metallic riffage of her new single, “Creature,” Pope's operatic vocals split the sky like thunder as she resolves to emerge like a brightly plumed phoenix from SpaceCream's ashes. —Falling James

The Charlatans UK


British indie rockers The Charlatans still have to use that “UK” addendum on the name, even though nobody knows anything about another band called The Charlatans. Whatever, the band have managed to remain remarkably active and quite prolific since their 1990 Some Friendly debut album and the accompanying single “The Only One I Know,” with their 13th studio album, Different Days, released last year to some acclaim. It's interesting that they've always been associated with the same Madchester scene that gave the world The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays — they were, in fact, formed in Birmingham, in the West Midlands, so geographically they're more closely related to Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Still, musically they share psychedelic sensibilities with their neighbors to the north, and by all accounts they still deliver live. —Brett Callwood

Mavis Staples; Credit: Chris Strong

Mavis Staples; Credit: Chris Strong

sat 9/22

Mavis Staples


A lot of the great ones have already left us, which makes any chance to hear Mavis Staples in person a precious opportunity that shouldn't be wasted. She is also that rare legendary performer who is still creating vital new music, as the 79-year-old vocalist recently proved again on her 2017 collaboration with producer/co-writer Jeff Tweedy, If All I Was Was Black. Her warm, knowing vocals recall the heyday of her family band The Staple Singers, as well as her later collaborations with Prince. But Staples and Tweedy's lyrics decrying racism and advocating a sense of unity and community imbue these various R&B, gospel, pop and blues settings with a feeling of immediacy and relevance that goes beyond nostalgia. Blues acolytes The James Harman Band and Alex Nester also appear at tonight's “Hollywood Blues Bash.” —Falling James

Jay-Z & Beyoncé


Calling all hip-hop fans, R&B fans, music fans and the Beyhive. The people were barely ready when news came through earlier this year that Jay-Z and Beyoncé would be embarking on their second stadium tour together, On the Run II. Now, the Carters prepare to take over the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. At this point, everything that can be written about Hov and Bey has been written. This summer, they surprise-dropped an album titled EVERYTHING IS LOVE, which was met with much praise and critical acclaim. With standout singles “Apeshit” and “Summer,” the supercouple proved they were, again, the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. That, and they publicly debuted their twins, Sir and Rumi, for the first time on the opening night of this tour. Also Sunday, Sept. 23. —Shirley Ju

Youth Brigade


Influential local melodic hardcore outfit Youth Brigade was formed in 1980 by the Stern brothers (Shawn, Mark and Adam) and, though they took a four-year break between 1987 and '91, they've pretty much stuck around ever since. Influenced by established hardcore vets such as Circle Jerks and Black Flag as well as U.K. Oi groups like U.K. Subs, Youth Brigade went on to influence the likes of The Briefs and The Nation of Ulysses. Shawn and Mark are at least as well known for creating BYO Records, the label responsible for releases by the aforementioned Briefs, Bouncing Souls and many more. That said, the last Youth Brigade studio albums came out in 1996, five years after the reunion. Boys, it's time to get back to work. —Brett Callwood

sun 9/23

Brighter Death Now


Brighter Death Now — the Swedish experimental-music concern of Roger Karmanik — has, for the past 30 years, explored the depressing extremes of the human condition previously touched upon by groups like SPK, Throbbing Gristle and Maurizio Bianchi. With albums bearing titles like Pain in Progress and May All Be Dead, understandably Karmanik suffered under the weight of his obsessions. “My whole body told me this was wrong,” he admits to this writer, adding, “But I didn't listen … so, I collapsed mentally. That was over 10 years ago, and I'm not fully back yet — or, maybe this is me now. Maybe this is who I've always been!” So you get to experience a (possibly) brighter Brighter Death Now, performing in Los Angeles for the first time ever. Can you take it?! If not, please call someone. With Birthright and Torture Gallery. —David Cotner

Traps PS; Credit: Samantha Saturday

Traps PS; Credit: Samantha Saturday

mon 9/24

Traps PS, 100 Flowers, Mike Watt & the Secondmen


The latest album by Traps PS is aptly titled New Chants. In an era when so many other bands are content to drag a contact high from the ancient inspirations of musicians from earlier decades and generations, this local trio stubbornly continue to create arty new sounds that are bold and unexpected. Traps PS' short, jagged noise-funk and post-punk collisions have antecedents in such groups as Gang of Four, as well as two of the co-billed performers tonight: local art-punk trio 100 Flowers, who are sometimes better known as their earlier minimalist hardcore incarnation Urinals, and former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt. But Traps PS push even those modernist influences forward in such urgent, unsettling and compulsive grooves as “Waking Hour” and “In Decline.” “We're a figure of speech, we're alike,” singer-guitarist Andrew Jeffords laments in “Two Voices” against bassist Danny Miller and drummer Miles Wintner's curt rhythms. —Falling James



Finnish band Amorphis have been around since 1990 and, while their style has shifted somewhat over those nearly three decades, their desire to push the boundaries of prog metal has remained consistent. At their most experimental, in the early to mid-'90s, the group delved into the dark world of folk metal, resulting in music that sounded like medieval chanting over brutal death metal. Later, they played around with psychedelic metal, melodic death metal and doom metal, as well as straight prog metal. Always metal, always heavy, always genre-defying. Queen of Time, which came out in May on Nuclear Blast, is the band's 13th studio album and, true to form, it features pipes, saxophone and laryngeal singing. Sometimes, you've got to throw your expectations out of the window and go with the flow. —Brett Callwood

tue 9/25

The The


When it was announced almost exactly a year ago that Matt Johnson would be assembling a new lineup of The The and touring again, fans around the world needed a minute to gather themselves. Because, while reunion tours are commonplace, this one feels special. The The haven't toured in 16 years, and they haven't played North America in 18. That the post-punk icons are back is cause for genuine celebration. Even better, Johnson appears to be in fine form. Those familiar with the work of The The know that Johnson is a true punk poet — a man capable of turning personal tragedy and genuinely heart-wrenching pain into something achingly beautiful. Like Morrissey if he wasn't a dick, Johnson mines his own heart and soul for lyrics that have an emotional impact on those open to them. There's new music in the works, too, so we have that to look forward to. —Brett Callwood

First Aid Kit; Credit: Neil Krug

First Aid Kit; Credit: Neil Krug

wed 9/26

First Aid Kit, M. Ward, Julia Jacklin


“You told me once I have a rebel heart,” Klara Söderberg intones solemnly on “Rebel Heart,” from First Aid Kit's recent album, Ruins. “I believe you saw something in me that lives inside you too.” While tendrils of Klara's guitar wrap slowly around her mournful vocal melody, her bassist sister, Johanna Söderberg, chimes in with a compulsive, yearning chorus, “Why do I keep dreaming of you?” As with so many of the Swedish duo's folk-pop songs, their gloriously sad harmonies lift a seemingly simple tune and lyrics into something that's hypnotic and emotionally resonant. The sisters were so full of feelings during the Ruins sessions that four extra tracks were just released on the EP Tender Offerings. Artful songwriter M. Ward (She & Him) and Australian opener Julia Jacklin stack this bill with more smart words and pop melodies. —Falling James

DakhaBrakha; Credit: Courtesy the artists

DakhaBrakha; Credit: Courtesy the artists

thu 9/27



“World music” is too dry and generic a term to attempt to describe the strange and fantastic sounds stirred up by DakhaBrakha. The Ukrainian quartet prefer to call what they do “ethno-chaos.” Singer-accordionist Marko Halanevych and a trio of women vocalists adorned in black conical headdresses and colorful, arty long skirts — cellist Nina Harenetska, percussionist Olena Tsybulska and pianist/multi-instrumentalist Iryna Kovalenko — exhale a rhythmic patter of birdsong and febrile melodies. Their music might seem merely quirky at first, but you can't help being swept away by the mesmerizing swirl of rapid-fire vocals and traditional instrumentation that — in DakhaBrakha's deft hands — sounds anything but traditional. —Falling James

Thurston Moore & David Toop


This evening is being billed as “Free Improvised Noise Music,” which should spell things out clearly enough for those hoping to hear a few Sonic Youth classics played the way they were recorded: probably not gonna happen. Moore and Toop have worked together numerous times over the years as part of the U.K.-based Alterations, though they rarely perform together in duo form in the States. As is generally the case with improvised noise music, don't expect a standard verse-bridge-chorus song structure. These guys will go out of their way to create the wildest sounds imaginable. If your mind is totally open, if you enjoy the more extreme forms of jazz, then there's plenty to get your teeth into. It's not for everyone, though. —Brett Callwood

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