Blah Blah Blah

A couple excellent band names this week. First up, The Now People, who might have quite possibly once heard Nick Lowe’s Pure Pop for Now People. Then again, perhaps they’re referencing the almost triumphantly lousy ’70s mime-rock band The Hello People, (not) famed for their ditty “A Monday Kind of Tuesday” (which we renamed “A Crappy Kind of Shitty”). In any case, we’re pretty sure the Now People, a power-pop Wondermints offshoot, are not referencing Ziggy Marley’s “Tomorrow People” (3/5 at Spaceland). Undeniably, though, the band name of the week award must go to San Diego’s Goblin Cock, post-Druidical head-throbbers who ride the fine, fine line between stupid and clever with some style (Spaceland, 3/8). Bon Jovi’s playing Staples again, so that’s a good thing (3/3). Susannah Hoffs & Matthew Sweet bring their covers project, a tribute to ’60s songwriting and heart-crushing harmonies, to the Hotel Café (3/8). A similar melodic romanticism inhabits the rootsy rock & roll of The Mother Hips, one of California’s best-kept secrets. (Please stop playing the Mint, guys! 3/9) Finally, The Bulgarian Women’s Choir bend time-space at UCLA, 3/8. Rock out with (goblin) cock out, etc. (Kate Sullivan)


{mosimage}Dwight Yoakam, Waylon Payne at the Wiltern

An estimable roundup of California country’s new breed this is, one keying in on established headliner Yoakam and dark-horse candidate Waylon Payne. These honky-tonk pinup boys work a shadowy side of the neo-traditionalist street, Yoakam with his frosty catalog of serial self-examination and Payne closing in with an even more unorthodox plan of attack (you’ll never forget his version of “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” a hit for his late mother, the great country singer Sammi Smith). Both performers are also prone to extracurricular Tinseltown twinkle-twinkle, from Yoakam’s Sling Blade–and–onward success to Payne’s depiction of Jerry Lee Lewis in Walk the Line, and the pairing is certain to meld old-time hillbilly fetishism with a real-now, rocked-up perspective found only in Hollywood. 3790 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 380-5005. (Jonny Whiteside)


Vice Squad, The Adicts, G.B.H. at Orange Pavilion

It’s always an exhilarating jolt to see the face-painted droogies in the Adicts spit out their rabble-rousing anthem “Viva la Revolution,” and today’s marathon British Invasion festival boasts a head-stomping lineup of some of the greatest second-generation English punk combos — including the incorrigibly scabrous, hard-charging rowdies G.B.H. — but the biggest thrill is a rare stateside visit by Vice Squad. Led by the charismatic, defiant singer Beki Bondage, the Bristol group are perhaps best known for early-’80s pre-riot-grrl classics like “Stand Strong, Stand Proud” and the apocalyptically foreboding “Last Rockers,” but they actually sound harder and heavier than ever on recent blasts like the boisterous glam ode “Westend Stars” and the flat-out metallic frenzy of “Maid to Measure,” thanks to remorselessly fierce guitarist Paul Rooney. Ms. Bondage showed off her stylistic range on her underrated 2000 solo album, Cold Turkey, tackling standards by Jimi Hendrix and T. Rex, but it’s her fearless punk keening on stuff like “Princess Paranoia” and “Coward” that sends the deepest chills. Are you listening, George Bush? The festival starts at 2 p.m. at National Orange Show Fairgrounds, 689 S. “E” St., San Bernardino. (213) 480-3232. (Falling James)

Van Morrison at the Wiltern

Whatever Van’s been drinking lately, he should pass it around. Guess he did, actually: 2002’s Down the Road, for instance, was classic R&B in every department; when he led off last year’s Magic Time by bragging/complaining that nobody’s gonna tell him what time it is — well, damn right. And when thirsty birds slurp up his new country album, Pay the Devil, they’ll peck themselves for not having recognized that, even though his blues and jazz connections are more obvious, he’s been cocking an ear to George Jones all along. Morrison radiates effortless feel for his Hank Williams and Webb Pierce, too, while reeling out three excellent shitkickers of his own. The inflection, the heart, the arrangements’ easy swing — that cowboy hat ain’t honorary. Also Sun. 3790 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 380-5005. (Greg Burk)

{mosimage}Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gris-Gris, Lavender Diamond, Imaad Wasif at the Troubadour

When it comes to real, true, fine, authentic New York–style punk-&-roll garage-y wise-assery, some of you experts would say that Brooklyn’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs have studied the form very, very well, what with the way they blend it, bake it, gobble it down, then toss such a big, artful strew up into the sleazy night air. Their bassless slop comes with a lot of oh-so-knowing but at least funny sass from singer Karen O, a carefully spare guitar chip-chopper and, especially, a drummer who slaps his tubs awake like you’d do a newborn babe’s bootay. Terribly unprolific, the Yeahs finally have a new full-length out in March, Show Your Bones (Interscope), on which they’re joined by Alaska/Folk Implosion dude Imaad Wasif on bass; Wasif’s also got a new solo album out on Kill Rock Stars, and he’ll perform bits of that at the performance on Sunday. Psykaydelic garage-abilly greasers Gris-Gris and L.A.’s lovely, strange pop progressives Lavender Diamond (Sat. only) open the shows. Also Sun. (John Payne)

Blackalicious, Lifesavas at the Roxy

Bay Area hip-hop duo Blackalicious are one of the reasons the rap underground doesn’t collapse in a cloud of self-righteous morality dust. Producer Chief Xcel keeps the group’s music moving with sleekly updated snatches of 1970s soul-funk, while the Gift of Gab holds forth on all kinds of topics more interesting than how real Blackalicious keep it. Last year’s The Craft (a slight retreat from 2002’s terrific Blazing Arrow) contains tunes about the indignity of wage slavery, the thrill of a great hookup, and why some teachers “don’t really give a damn about a black child.” Lifesavas, from Portland, share Xcel and Gab’s positive vibe; their version of Elliott Smith’s “Happiness” on a recent Smith tribute disc didn’t sound sarcastic at all. (Mikael Wood)


No pick tonight


{mosimage}The Rolling Stones at the Forum

Los Angeles has long been one of the Rolling Stones’ favorite cities, which must be why England’s Newest Hitmakers are making a last swing through town before jetting off for the European leg of their Bigger Bang Tour. Although the Stones haven’t played at the Fabulous Forum since 1975, they’ve had some legendary shows in the House That Jack Kent Cooke Built: They kicked off their infamous 1969 tour with two shows in one night at the Forum, flying in so late that the second concert didn’t begin until 4 a.m.; and in early 1973, at a special benefit for Nicaraguan-earthquake victims, much-missed former lead guitarist Mick Taylor stirred up some hauntingly lovely slide-guitar embellishments on unique versions of “It’s All Over Now” and “No Expectations.” Whether whipping out long-lost favorites like “Sway” or rumbling through strong new tunes such as the moody funk idyll “Rain Fall Down,” the Stones still sound pretty good live, buttressed by their mighty triumvirate of vocalists (Bernard Fowler, Lisa Fisher and Blondie Chaplin), the knuckled-down bass throb of Darryl Jones, the salty popcorn of keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and the sneaky, snaky, sidewinding riffs of Keith Richards. Manchester Blvd. & Prairie Ave., Inglewood. (213) 480-3232. (Falling James)


Rancid, Left Alone at the Echo

The first show of Rancid’s monthlong Tuesday-night Echo residency, this gig should provide a great opportunity to get a look at what the hardy Bay Area punk act have been up to for the past few years: With side projects like Tim Armstrong’s Transplants, Lars Frederiksen’s Bastards and Matt Freeman’s stint in Social Distortion, Rancid haven’t been heard from much since touring for 2003’s Indestructible died down. But considering all that’s happened in the world of pop-punk (not to mention the world, period) in the intervening years, don’t be surprised if the downtime has only strengthened them. Each of these special acoustic shows will be opened by different bands from Armstrong’s Epitaph imprint, Hellcat. Tonight it’s Wilmington ska-punks Left Alone, who’ve probably heard a Rancid record or two. (Mikael Wood)

{mosimage}Exene Cervenka & the Original Sinners at the Viper Room

Exene brings it. She sounds like she’s been having bad fun, what with that hilariously reverb-drenched Knitters album last year, and now with the new Original Sinners transgression. To be released on the 7th and called Seven after Cervenka’s new bandmates, St. Louis’ 7 Shot Screamers, it’s rawer and rootsier than the 2002 Sinners debut, pumping up the X/Cramps/Link Wray energy and laying on the bitter humor with a butcher knife. “You’re sorry for the lyin’ and the drinkin’, but you ain’t sorry for the fun,” sneers Exene, and “What’s black and white and dead all over? Don’t ask me, I’ve got no sense of humor.” Haw! Guitarist Jason Edge returns with his punky churn and spooky slide to complete a picture of amphetamine recklessness, and it sure feels good. Pass the damn whiskey. (Greg Burk)

The Cult at the Henry Fonda Theater

The Cult — essentially guitarist Billy Duffy and vocalist Ian Astbury — remain magnets for ridicule even with way more ludicrous stadium-rock caricatures at large (have you seen Velvet Revolver?). Their 1987 release, the AC/DC-indebted Electric, confirmed the Cult’s mutation into full-blown hesher heroes, yet they retained the goth mystique and adolescent protest of earlier incarnations. Astbury’s utterances can be simultaneously lustful and tortured, macho and feline, while Duffy’s guitar histrionics are but slaves to the song. Though they lost the stylistic plot with the departure of original bassist Jamie Stewart in 1990, the Cult have accumulated an awe-inspiring arsenal of majestic anthems, and — although now they’re more on hiatus than a band (Astbury fronts the revamped Doors) — an overdue appreciation of their epic vision is increasingly hip. 6126 Hollywood Blvd. (213) 480-3232. (Paul Rogers)

Motorhead at the House of Blues

While heavy metal records by their contemporaries gather more dust in your collection than your 1987 Soloflex machine, Motorhead have just flat-out rocked. No fancy adjectives, no postmodernist theory, no garnish on the meat-and-potatoes rock music — just Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister and Motorhead. Former roadie for Hendrix and bassist for ur-hippie-proggers Hawkwind, Lemmy has released an apocalyptically good series of singles, best summed up with the deathless “Ace of Spades.” Its cover shows Kilmister and Co. dressed up as Father Christmas holding beers while Lemmy flips off the camera. They tour with 31 years’ worth of energy and hits, the latest of which — 2004, anyway — is Motorhead’s Inferno album. Those who are ever mesmerized by Lemmy’s moles can see him in the upcoming Troma film Poultrygeist: Attack of the Chicken Zombies. And don’t forget the Joker! (David Cotner)


{mosimage}Kris Kristofferson at the Troubadour

At an unusually small venue for Kris Kristofferson (and a welcome return to form for the Troubadour, a hot folk-country room at the time of his career breakout), this occasion should be fraught with high emotion and plenty of the lowly poetics that put this venerable singer-songwriter on the map. Kristofferson’s knack for turning a potent phrase not only created a stack of now-standard classics, it also, with that talk of “wishing lord that he was stoned” and “making it through the night,” significantly broadened country music’s then-severely-limited content. Along the way, he endeared himself to some of the most high-powered renegades in Nashville (Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson), kicked down doors for struggling kingpins like Billy Joe Shaver, and established himself as one of the most powerful lyricists since Hank Williams. (Jonny Whiteside)

Joe Henry, John Doe at Largo

X-man John Doe has long served this city as a figure of conscience and guidance, and for his ongoing, irregular “John Doe Presents” series, he could not have selected a more suitable artist than Joe Henry, a frighteningly prolific singer-songwriter, musician and producer who has quietly racked up reams of glowing press and enjoyed some extraordinary affiliations: No higher a power than Madonna included Henry’s “Stop” on her Music album; he managed to coax sax alchemist Ornette Coleman to appear on one of his own releases, and his subtly simpatico production of soul great Solomon Burke’s Don’t Give Up on Me took Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 2003 Grammys. Clearly, Henry’s ear and instincts are unbeatable; expect a rewarding evening. (Jonny Whiteside)

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