From the old school punk of the Adolescents and reverb-heavy trio L.A. Witch to rockabilly heroes The Stray Cats and jazz-rappers The Roots, here are 12 of the best music shows in Los Angeles this week.

fri 8/23

The Adolescents 


Fullerton band The Adolescents formed in 1980, so they’re right up there with the early SoCal punk bands and are pretty much royalty in these parts. And while they might not hold the gravitas of an X or a Germs to some, there are few Los Angeles-area punk bands with a better song up their sleeve than “Amoeba.” Of course, the hole left by Steve Soto’s passing last year is massive and frankly impossible to fill, but new bassist Brad Logan has been doing an admirable job of keeping the band moving forward. Last year’s Cropduster album, their last with Soto and their ninth in total, is proof that these old punks still have plenty to offer. The Vulturas, Greg Antista & the Lonely Streets and more also play. —Brett Callwood

Kacey Musgraves 


We once included Musgraves in a list piece about country artists that liberals would like, and that’s fair — she’s clearly no right-wing redneck. What she is, is a six-time Grammy winner with three studio albums of original material (plus one obligatory country Christmas album) under her belt. She’s also sharp as a tack with a knowing sense of humor; her critically acclaimed debut album was called Same Trailer Different Park, and the follow up was called Pageant Material. You’ve got to love that. Last year’s Golden Hour won Musgraves four of her Grammys, so she’s in no way slowing down. Poolside opens these two shows, also on Sunday, August 25. —Brett Callwood

sat 8/24

L.A. Witch (Mono Studio)

L.A. Witch


Everything L.A. Witch do happens in a thick sea of reverb, which transforms the songs on their 2017 self-titled album and Octubre — a 2018 EP in which the local trio refashioned some of their obscure early tracks — into a state of heightened mystery. Sade Sanchez’s vocals burn through the self-induced haze and shadows with a serene majesty that evokes Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, except that everything is cranked out with an electric garage-rock atmosphere and punk-rock drive by bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English. L.A. Witch are the most compelling part of another edition of Mondo Hollywood, whose other highlights range from the surf-rock shtick of Man or Astro-man? and the roots-rock affectations of Bloodshot Bill to the intense punk-rock frenzy of The Flytraps. Let’s hope the soundperson doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel again, as happened at last year’s Mondo Hollywood, when headliners The Detroit Cobras’ vocals were so inaudible, most of the crowd left early. —Falling James

sun 8/25

The Coathangers (Jeff Forney)

The Coathangers


The Happy Sundays festival returns with a series of free sets that happen at various locations in the Zaferia district of Long Beach. Highlights include the evocative Latin-pop stylists Tropa Magica and indie-rock adventurers Billy Changer, as well as Rats in the Louvre, Prettiest Eyes, Janelane, The Molochs, Cat-Scan, and Birth Defects, among others. Much of the excitement occurs at Alex’s Bar, where Atlanta punk trio The Coathangers headline with the smart, provocative songs from their new album, The Devil You Know. Guitarist Julia Kugel-Montoya and drummer Stephanie Luke trade off on vocals on such subversive anthems as “F the NRA,” “Hey Buddy” and the self-lacerating “Bimbo.” Meredith Franco ties it all together with slinky, propulsive bass lines that hint at a Slits-style post-punk. —Falling James

Booker T (Piper Ferguson)

Pink Martini, Booker T. Jones


The snazzy, jazzy combo Pink Martini are performing three shows at the Hollywood Bowl, and each night features an intriguing opening band. On Friday, it’s the Violent Femmes, followed on Saturday by La Santa Cecilia. On Sunday, the Portland group are billed with the legendary keyboardist Booker T. Jones, who will lead a revue that celebrates his extensive history with Stax Records. Among many other things, the label released the landmark, coolly grooving instrumental hit single “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Jones has continued to pump out powerful, soulful music in a variety of solo albums and in collaborations with Neil Young, Questlove and the Drive-By Truckers. Let’s just say he draws from a seriously deep catalog. Pink Martini’s 2018 record, Non Ouais! The French Songs of Pink Martini, is another typically breezy but engaging set of chansons. —Falling James

mon 8/26

Daniel Caesar


Toronto singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar exploded onto the R&B scene with his smoothing, luscious voice, delivering the most heartfelt records that audiences couldn’t help but gravitate toward. It was breakout singles “Get You” featuring Kali Uchis and “Best Part” featuring H.E.R. that pushed his name from the underground to the mainstream. In 2017, real name Ashton Simmonds unleashed his debut album Freudian, which was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 60th Grammy Awards. Most recently, he surprise dropped a brand new project titled Case Study 01, gifting fans with yet another masterpiece. This show will be one for the books. —Shirley Ju

A Tribute to Talk Talk 


Time is a stranger when it comes to the work of Mark Hollis, late of English post-punk pop band Talk Talk, and even later of this earthly plane of existence as of February 25. His music — witty and heartfelt and concerned with the natural world as it was — seems very much of its time, and yet somehow instantly transcendent of it. A Tribute to Talk Talk, presented by Aquarium Drunkard, offers you a chance to catch Hollis’ lightning in a bottle; to transcend the paltry particulars of his death and keep his music alive. With Aaron Kyle (of Geronimo Getty), Mirror Man (members of Derde Verde), Dylan Rodrigue, Cari Stevens, and DJ sets by the aforementioned Drunkard, chances are you’ll attain a sort of warm timeless glow that settles for a while and then departs for higher planes of existence. —David Cotner

tue 8/27

MC50 (Andy Harris)



When Wayne Kramer, Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson and Michael Davis, at the time the three surviving members of Detroit proto-punks MC5, went out on tour as DKT/MC5 in 2004, some fans raised their eyebrows at the use of the hallowed name, regardless of the “DKT” addition. That band, with a rotating lineup of second guitarists and frontmen, was more often than not a thrilling live proposition, yet the mere fact that they were daring to use the MC5 name annoyed many. So what will those naysayers make of Kramer going out with members of Soundgarden, Faith No More, Fugazi and Zen Guerrilla as MC50 and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the influential Kick Out the Jams album? Davis is sadly no longer with us, and Thompson has apparently decided to stay out of it, so expect insults to fly. But Kramer won’t care — this is a celebration, not a reunion. Porcupine also play. —Brett Callwood

wed 8/28

The Stray Cats 


Near-mythical rockabilly band The Stray Cats formed in 1979 but they’re clearly children of the ’50s, both in spirit and musical stylings. Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker, the core trio, have been the very definition of on-again-off-again since they first took a hiatus in ’84, but they’ve found the time to record a full 10 studio albums. The self-titled debut, which includes classics such as “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut,” might contain all the crowd faves, but last year’s 40 is no late cash grab. These guys have got plenty of other things going on, so they only get the Cats back together when they’re really feeling it. Which they are. Eagles of Death Metal also play. —Brett Callwood

The Roots


The Roots have spent so many years abetting lightweight comedian Jimmy Fallon as he fawns over virtually every celebrity — who can forget the talk-show host making cute while giggling and fondling then-candidate Donald Trump’s hair in a pathetic attempt to soften the future dictator’s image? — that it’s hard to remember that the Philadelphia hip-hop collective used to put out such powerful, heavy and socially meaningful albums as 2002’s Phrenology. The Roots had their major artistic breakthrough three years earlier with the release of Things Fall Apart, which they’ll perform in full at the Bowl following a set by ace jazz bassist Christian McBride. Things Fall Apart was a major statement of purpose in which rapper-lyricist Black Thought and drummer Questlove collaborated with such guests as Mos Def, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Common and, most memorably, Erykah Badu. —Falling James

Potty Mouth; Credit: Nazrin Massaro

Potty Mouth (Nazrin Massaro)

Potty Mouth


“I’ve done a couple things that I know you wouldn’t like/I keep it to myself so I don’t keep you up at night,” Abby Weems confesses amid the surging power chords of “Do It Again,” from Potty Mouth’s recent album, SNAFU. Luckily for the local punk group’s fans, Weems doesn’t keep her feelings to herself on the new record. Her poppy hooks mask the serious messages she’s relaying in such hard but tuneful anthems as “Starry Eyes” and “Smash Hit,” a sarcastic look at the idea of turning creativity into mainstream success. Even with that rueful evisceration of commercial ambition, Potty Mouth continue to grow more popular in large part because Weems, bassist Ally Einbinder and drummer Victoria Mandanas make catchy music that’s loaded with lyrics of idealism and empowerment. —Falling James

thu 8/29

Smashing Pumpkins, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds 


Smashing Pumpkins mainman Billy Corgan was in fine spirits when we spoke to him back in December. The Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. album (with that oh so lengthy name) had just been released and was getting decent reviews across the board, and he conveyed his general feeling that alt-rock was finding its feet again. “You see a lot of younger fans being really attracted to alternative rock again, because the vapid promise of pop ultimately runs out,” he says. If he’s right, then those same kids should be at this show; not only are the Pumpkins in fine form right now, but Oasis man Noel Gallagher’s band is now three albums in and not looking back. You can’t lose. —Brett Callwood

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