fri 4/27

Esperanza Spalding


The folks behind the Grammy Awards get it right in their choice for Best New Artist about once every 10 years, which also is how often a performer like Esperanza Spalding comes along and enters the public consciousness. The Portland, Ore., native, who won the award in 2011, is a marvelously nimble bassist, but she's also a soulful vocalist who infuses her jazzy rambles with memorably sophisticated pop melodies. “This song's the one,” Spalding aptly declares amid the funky horn retorts of “Radio Song,” from her fourth and latest album, Radio Music Society. She's accompanied by such jazz heavy hitters as Jack DeJohnette and Joe Lovano, as well as guest vocalists Lalah Hathaway, Q-Tip and Gretchen Parlato, but ultimately this is Spalding's show. —Falling James

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band


Look, I can't be the first person to say it: There are moments on the new Bruce Springsteen album, Wrecking Ball, that could easily pass for parody if presented that way. Take “Jack of All Trades,” one of many new tunes in which the Boss explicitly inhabits the working man's point of view: “I'll mow your lawn, clean the leaves out your drain,” he offers over a pitiful little piano arpeggio, “I'll mend your roof to keep out the rain.” This is not what anyone in the 99 percent deserves. Fortunately, when he's onstage in a room the size of the one he'll play tonight — the second show of a two-night stand — Springsteen still possesses the fading-rock-star knack for transforming goofy to grand. Go on and mow that shit, Bruce. —Mikael Wood



In a classic coming-full-circle, bands like Desecrate that shun all currently hip bastardizations of the metal genre — metalcore, screamo, post-haircuts Metallica — are once again being welcomed into upstart underground venues like the Cobalt Cafe. With a fury that perhaps only an upbringing in suburban Burbank could summon, these four hairy heshers have a Dungeons & Dragons–like sense of structural and technical adventure, yet deliver with the punkish ire and irreverence that made early thrash metal so irresistible. Desecrate's best-of-all-worlds alchemy of anthemic ambitions, actual audible lyrics, twin chuggy/widdly guitars, and drums brilliantly described in their bio as “the horrid thumping of a heart attack” put a style long deemed dated firmly back into the here and now. —Paul Rogers

Also playing:

HOWE GELB at McCabe's; OPEN HANDS at the Baked Potato.


sat 4/28



Like AC/DC, Backbiter slam out such a heavy and massive sound that they really belong in sports arenas and stadiums instead of small clubs. After two decades of playing mostly cheap or free shows through tinny PAs at every underground dive in the county, the local hard-rock trio tends to get taken for granted by the hipster glitterati. But Backbiter's punk-meets-the-godfather style makes plenty of sense to nonironic heshers, unrepentant classic rockers, disaffected stoners and O.G. punks, with singer-guitarist Jonathan Hall (celebrating a birthday tonight) injecting some good ol' Cheetah Chrome slobber into his Pete Townshend power chords and intricately unraveled Ross the Boss solos. Hall, bassist Heath Seifert and drummer Bob Lee could get by just on their deftly rendered covers, but they also write strikingly intense originals, ranging from the demented chaos of recent tunes like “Dr. Robot” and the Dylanish jangle “Blood & Broken Glass Blues” to flat-out-explosive oldies like “Nova” and “Flying.” —Falling James

KDAY Krush Groove


With high-profile performances by Odd Future, Mac Miller and Kendrick Lamar, the Paid Dues Festival did a reasonable job earlier this month of representing the state of hip-hop's vanguard. The old-schoolers get their say at KDAY-FM's Krush Groove concert, with a solid bill featuring Ice Cube, Cypress Hill and Mystikal at the top. (The Pharcyde, Masta Ace and Ras Kass also are scheduled to appear, plus the requisite special guests.) Ice Cube is, of course, a dependable headliner; nobody rises to the level of all-purpose entertainer like he has without the skills to pay his kids' bills. But we might be most amped for Cypress Hill: Before the weed overtook them during a 20th-anniversary gig at the Troubadour last summer, they were as merrily chaotic as we've ever seen them. —Mikael Wood

Lovely Bad Things, Mo-Odds


Lovely Bad Things are four kids from the corridor cities of Orange County who fold and warp “Rodney on the ROQ” classics like X, the B-52's and the Cramps into a soda-pop garage band all their own — one that obviously loves to play fast and loud but can't resist playing sweet and sappy sometimes, too. They've got a guitar snapping around like a severed high-tension wire and boy/girl vocals in perpetual ricochet, and that adds up to a lot of chops and a lot of charm, too. Support band Mo-Odds are equal parts fuzz and soul, drunkenly crash-landing somewhere between the high-energy Detroit rock of the Bellrays and the high-personality Detroit R&B of the Gories. Together, it's a night of volume, vigor and velocity. —Chris Ziegler


Michael Landau, Dusty Meadows


Michael Landau is one of the most respected guitarists in the world. When he isn't off touring with James Taylor, Seal or Renegade Creation with Robben Ford, Landau plays with his own band, drawing guitarists by the fistful to hear the “God of Tone.” Landau also nurtures talented young area musicians, including guitarist Dustin Boyer. Boyer's main gig is with the Velvet Underground's John Cale, and on occasion offering his own solo material through the Dusty Meadows Band. Boyer's own songs include “Crack Rock Girl” (sample line: “Her teeth were missing but I loved to kiss her/She smells like a Dumpster damn do I miss her”), and cover tunes can include anything from Prince to death metal. Baked Potato owner Justin Randi calls Boyer's new CD (free at the show) “brilliant” and “deeply disturbed.” —Tom Meek

Also playing:



sun 4/29

Baaba with Masters of Polish Animation


Co-presented by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Unsound New York Festival, here is the great Cinefamily's Animation Breakdown part 2, a super-choice batch of short films from Poland circa the 1950s and '60s. Infused with the devilish irony that typifies the work of postwar Polish artists in the ruptured reality of their ruined homeland, directors including Jan Lenica, Walerian Borowczyk and Zbigniew Rybczynski conceived films that stitched together idiosyncratically avant design and graphic art with surrealist theater and puppetry in mind-blowing displays of absurdist allegory and fractured narrative lines. Tonight's sampling is screened from cleaned-up, very rare 35mm prints; Warsaw-based prog-jazz stars Baaba reinterpret the films live with aptly eclectic mutations of jazz, rock and electronic sounds. —John Payne

Also playing:

ANGRY SAMOANS at the Redwood Bar & Grill.


mon 4/30

Jack White


Don't let the killer freak-metal single “Sixteen Saltines” fool you: On Blunderbuss, his just-released solo debut, former White Stripes frontman Jack White gets back to the old-timey roots-music biz he's mostly neglected of late with the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather. Whether or not that's a good thing depends, of course, on your appetite for mournful folk laments (“I Guess I Should Go to Sleep”), shuffling country-soul ditties (“Love Interruption”) and ramshackle blues jams in which White hilariously pronounces “nervous” as “noy-vus” (“I'm Shakin,” by Rudy Toombs). Last month on Saturday Night Live White performed one tune with an all-lady band and one with an all-dude band. His rep says he travels with both, FYI, and won't decide until Monday morning which one he'll bring to the Mayan. —Mikael Wood

The Crystelles


The Crystelles are a blues band in the same way that a demolition derby is a pleasant Sunday drive in the country. Singer Gitane Demone doesn't howl as if she's got hellhounds on her trail. Instead, she sings from the point of view of the hellhound. She's a besieged creature, a feral witch survivor, clawing back while conjuring incantations of real magic and shadowy weirdness. “They think I'm a whore,” she rails in cheery ditties like “Outcast of Society.” Demone has had a lot of experience trading in mystery, getting her start in the 1980s with goth iconoclasts Christian Death. Keeping the circle unbroken with her drummer-daughter Zara Kand in the Crystelles, Demone alternates between primitive, primal garage-blues rumbles like “Black Water” and such unexpectedly pretty cabaret ballads as “Golden Age.” —Falling James



“Experimental” doesn't quite cut it when you're attempting to describe certain, uh, “indie” bands. Matt Gangi and Eric Chramosta make a lot of sounds that melt down via guitar/drums/synths/samples into an aural collage that seems aimed at warping any expectations you might have about … what to expect. We won't discuss their “influences,” either, just note that their genuinely psychedelic music is fully laden with obscure pop-culture referential stuff that has a way of making you nod your head like a cool guy or girl, like you “get” it. It rocks in significant ways, in other words, like, you could dance to it if you felt so inclined. Gangi have a new album called Gesture Is coming out imminently. —John Payne

Also playing:

JOHN CARPENTER at Los Globos; EVE 6 at Troubadour.


tue 5/1



Last time the NoLA rapper rolled into town, he was nursing a broken ankle and set up the stage like his living room. But if you were under the impression that the hardest-working pothead in the game would use the injury (which happened after he hopped offstage at Rock the Bells to greet his fans) as an excuse to relax in a La-Z-Boy, forget it. For such a stoner, the dude's an incredible showman. At times, he almost flew off the couch by sheer force of will. Being incredibly prolific can result in putting out a few dud records, and Curren$y has released a couple less-than-stellar EPs this year. But no matter — those were just for fun, and if anything, nonchalant raps about Ferrari dreams-come-true and a never-ending supply of sticky green makes for great background music when you're dipping into your own. —Rebecca Haithcoat


Also playing:

COLDPLAY at Hollywood Bowl; BEVAN MANSON at the Joint; GWENDOLYN at Bootleg Bar; NAAMA KATES at Hotel Cafe.


wed 5/2

Sophie Barker


British songbird Sophie Barker doesn't have to scream or shout to get your attention. Instead, she captivates you through a series of subtle shimmers and soft confessions on her upcoming album, Seagull. Laid against the cool blue tones of murmuring keyboards, Barker's soothing vocals cast a contemplative spell on starkly spacey tracks like “Just for You” and “Insight.” There are a few moments that recall the downtempo sparkle of her early work with Zero 7, but the London chanteuse has found other ways of catching dreams, such as the swooning orchestration of the title track. Even a relatively cloying and innocuous pop tune like “Bluebell” gets rescued by the late intervention of a funky and savvy horn section. —Falling James

Arturo Sandoval


Since his splashy introduction in the '70s with the groundbreaking band Irakere, Cuban trumpeter Sandoval has forged a heavyweight career, peaking in 1995 with a Grammy win for his solo album, Danzon. Onetime protégé and heir to the legacy of Dizzy Gillespie, he has become a legend himself, featuring on countless recordings and performing at the White House and with stars including Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake. There is even an acclaimed movie about his life, starring suave Andy Garcia as the papi! Here's hoping this engagement marks the beginning of another essential jazz presence at this sublime new NoHo hot spot. Sandoval's current band includes Zane Musa (sax) and Mahesh Balasooriya (piano), stunning virtuosos with the ammunition to match the fiery veteran in a hail of well-chosen notes. —Gary Fukushima

Willis Earl Beal


Philip K. Dick would have loved a story about beautiful music born from a scrap of paper fished from the trash, and that's the story of Willis Earl Beal so far — a young man who used to post random flyers inviting strangers to call him to hear a song, a young man who draws like Mingering Mike and sings like Sam Cooke, Skip Spence or Son House as the passion strikes him. His rereleased Acousmatic Sorcery is less an album than an animal, wild and healthy and ferociously alive. (What kind of animal exactly? Definitely a rain dog.) And his new signing with an XL subsidiary — making him label neighbors with M.I.A. and Radiohead — means every stranger in the world can hear his music. As the story goes, this isn't a happy ending, it's a happy beginning. —Chris Ziegler

Also playing:

CARINA ROUND at Satellite; TENNIS at Troubadour.


thu 5/3



Since 1980, as thrash metal's fortunes have waxed and waned, Overkill has been there to reliably deliver the goods to the faithful and offer old-school authenticity to fair-weather fans. Over the course of 16 albums, these New Jersey surefires have diligently explored thrash's claustrophobic confines, embracing punk, hardcore, trad and even epic metal influences with a veritable revolving door of lineups. Though they've never enjoyed the private-island success of genre peers Metallica and Megadeth, Overkill have quietly sold millions of albums worldwide. Newbie The Electric Age hasn't lost a step, sounding like Iron Maiden might if they quit their mansions for the mean streets once again. With paranormally in-shape original frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth still leading by example, Overkill personify metal's worthy quest for eternal youth. —Paul Rogers

Also playing:


LA Weekly