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From revealing punks the Dwarves and psychobilly vets The Quakes to New York rapper Melii and beloved crooner Tony Bennett, here are 12 of the best music shows in Los Angeles this week.

fri 7/5

Dwarves 

ALEX’S BAR

Even those not massively familiar with Chicago punks the Dwarves know that guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed plays in nothing but a Mexican wrestling mask. Yeah, that means that we’re often treated to the sight of his gnarly cock, and he occasionally rubs it vigorously on a towel and gifts that to a “lucky” crowd member. It ain’t GG Allin, but it’s still not the kind of souvenir most want. Fortunately, the band also has a ton of great songs, including those from last year’s killer Take Back the Night, released on Burger Records. The record sits comfortably alongside Dwarves mini-classics such as The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking, How To Win Friends and Influence People, and The Dwarves Must Die. The Crowd, Decent Criminal, The Meow Twins and Richard Scary also play. —Brett Callwood

(Courtesy of Paul Roman)

The Quakes 

ECHOPLEX

The Quakes’ story is an interesting one. Formed in Buffalo, New York, in ’86, they quickly realized that there weren’t many other psychobilly bands knocking about the area to play with, so they upped and left for London, England. However, when the British authorities noticed that they didn’t have a work visa, they shipped them back. Again, they didn’t like the fact that they were playing to nobody, so they returned to Europe, this time with their paperwork in order. Three decades later, and they have 11 albums under their belts, including 2014’s Live By the Sword. Despite their many ups and downs, The Quakes gave stuck to their guns and never compromised, and they’re still producing riotous psychobilly. Also July 6 at Alex’s Bar. —Brett Callwood

sat 7/6

Chrissie Hynde 2-2-19 by Jill Furmanovsky

Chrissie Hynde

THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Chrissie Hynde has a distinctively expressive voice — which can mood-swing from fiery, wraithlike sadomasochistic imprecations into a maternally comforting melodic force at the drop of a hat — that has characterized her career leading The Pretenders and following her heart in her solo work and in such romantic-minded projects as JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys. She’s not the first rock singer to try her hand at covering jazzy pop standards — in September, she releases Valve Bone Woe, a set of songs by Hoagy Carmichael, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Charles Mingus, The Beach Boys and Ray Davies — but Hynde is one of the few with the pipes and charisma to pull it off. She’s backed here by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, who are not an especially nuanced or dynamic group but should provide competent if syrupy backing for that voice. —Falling James

Paige Stark (Janell Shirtcliff)

Paige Stark

McCABE’S GUITAR SHOP

“I’ve never been lucky/I’ve never been ahead of the curve,” Paige Stark confesses on her new single “Depression Song.” “I must’ve done something if we all get what we deserve,” she continues achingly over her solemn piano chords and guest guitarist Jon Brion’s subtle embellishments. The local songwriter/producer revealed her pop potential last year with the release of “Albatross,” another track marked by restrained vocals overlaid with gently spacey atmosphere and a thoughtfully layered and lulling arrangement. “You’re my albatross/You’re the one I lost,” Stark laments over a soft wave of guitars. She first came to attention as singer of the duo Tashaki Miyaki, who released a quietly enthralling version of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones.” Stark is billed at McCabe’s with Joel Wesley Harding and Californios. —Falling James

Howard Jones (Simon Fowler)

Howard Jones 

THE SABAN

It’s easy to lump all of the ‘80s pop and new wave artists together into a convenient package tour (sometimes literally). But it’s very often the case that to do so does the artist in question a massive disservice. Take British synth-pop star Howard Jones, whose 1984 album Human’s Lib included the bona fide monster hit “What Is Love?” Jones will pop up on numerous compilation albums alongside A-Ha, Bananarama and Nik Kershaw. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But Jones has put out a string of excellent albums since then, including this year’s superb Transform. Jones performed at Live Aid and deserves his place alongside the giants of that decade. But it would be a mistake to think that his career ended there. —Brett Callwood

sun 7/7

Gracie Gray (Pat Dunford)

Gracie Gray

BOOTLEG THEATER

Gracie Gray’s songs are spectral spells. The tracks on the Thousand Oaks native’s new album, Oregon in a Day, aren’t loud or flashy. Instead, Gray soothingly intones such acoustic folk-pop songs as “Dreams Overwhelm Me” with an intimate, confessional voice framed by low-key instrumentation. “Donate my name to your little pile/I feel the shame/I try to smile around you,” she coos softly on “Pile,” hinting at a complicated relationship in a few romantically yearning lines. Gray’s original songs are broken up with occasional covers, such as a gently percussive version of Moira Smiley & VOCO’s “Bring Me a Little Water, Sylvie” and a delicately affecting, spare and sparkling rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” —Falling James

Amyl & the Sniffers (ATO Records)

Amyl and the Sniffers 

TERAGRAM BALLROOM

Amy Taylor of Aussie punks Aml & the Sniffers was recently the subject of our “My Favorite Album” column, as she explained the appeal of the self-titled Sleaford Mods EP. “I never really get off at festival gigs, but when I saw them for the first time in Europe last year I was fist-smashing the air the whole time,” Taylor told us, and that all makes sense because her own band has a similar effect on rabid crowds around the world. The band has also been described as “pub rock” thanks to the influence of fellow Australians AC/DC, but the impact of hardcore bands such as Minor Threat can also be felt. Taylor is a wild and charismatic frontwoman, but none of that would matter if they didn’t have great tunes. Which they do. —Brett Callwood

mon 7/8

Polartropica's Ihui Cherise Wu; Credit: Olivia Hemaratanatorn

Polartropica’s Ihui Cherise Wu; Credit: Olivia Hemaratanatorn

Wasi/Polartropica 

BOOTLEG THEATER

Polartropica has become something of a fave here at the L.A. Weekly and for good reason. This Bootleg gig is the homecoming date on her Love Is Gay tour, and it’s no surprise that her glittery electro-synth pop is a hit with LGBTQ audiences. It’s impossible to look at main-woman Ihui Cherise Wu without grinning. In these difficult and cynical times, she’s a luminescent performer and talented artist. Also on the tour is the superb Wasi — a group that describes their “music and vigor” as “an invitation into their utopia of love, liberation and a questioning of the status quo.” And then there’s indie pop band Lucy & La Mer. Honestly, that’s a stunning three band bill. Don’t miss it. —Brett Callwood

tue 7/9

Billie Eilish (Kenneth Cappello)

Billie Eilish

SHRINE EXPOSITION HALL

Mainstream pop music used to be the exclusive province of vapid singers who were mostly flashy and generally had little to say lyrically. But there’s a whole wave of new singers who combine provocative lyrics with commercial pop and dance music, and one of the most fascinating is Billie Eilish. The Highland Park native is just 17, but she has already caused an international stir with the release of her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, and her recent appearance at Glastonbury.  The album was produced and co-written by her brother Finneas O’Connell and ranges from the shadowy pulses of “Bad Guy” and the sarcastic anti-partying anthem “Xanny” to the propulsive braggadocio of “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Also Wednesday, July 10. And at the Greek Theatre, Thursday, July 11. —Falling James

wed 7/10

Tony Bennett (Tom Beetz/Wikicommons)

Tony Bennett

THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Tony Bennett has been singing in the larger public sphere for 70 years.  He’ll be 93 next month. That he appears at a venue like the Hollywood Bowl serves as a testament to the power of art in general. That you get to see him sing and express the rare treasure of a truly matured human singing voice is a miracle in itself. The Great American Songbook now exists as a living thing at the core of the man, and he is one of our last and strongest links to the era that gave birth to what he himself calls “classical music.” There aren’t many things you can point to in life as being events that are epochal because they are so exceedingly scarce  but with Tony Bennett, tonight presents art that transcends into a moment that defines life itself. —David Cotner

thu 7/11

Credit: Cody Mack

Jen Awad (Credit: Cody Mack)

Jen Awad, Cutty Flam

LEVITT PAVILION AT MACARTHUR PARK

“I was born too late/This old soul can’t seem to relate,” Jen Awad wails on “Love Is Dead,” the title track of her 2018 EP. Indeed, the local diva recalls the soulful dramatics of 1960s girl-group singers with her powerhouse vocals. “I miss loving you, just like some nostalgic fool,” she confides, and while her retro tunes are heavily steeped in nostalgia, she revives the spirit of vintage pop with an energetic, vibrant intensity. Cutty Flam’s curious blend of garage, pop and roots-rock is also retro, but the way the lo-fi local trio combine their influences feels simultaneously familiar and strangely new. Their jangling garage-rock originals fall have a Buddy Holly simplicity combined with Mickey & Sylvia romanticism and Jonathan Rich–style whimsy. —Falling James

 

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