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fri 1/18

Femi Kuti

EL REY THEATRE

In 2009, the Nigerian government forcefully shut down the Shrine, the home base of Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti. By now, however, not only is the Shrine back but it's also a government-endorsed museum — a sign, Femi Kuti told one reporter, that the revolutionary genre his father started is stronger than ever. And Femi's own take on this particularly hypnotic, propulsive and fearless music is going strong, too, as presented on his recent (and fiery) Africa for Africa album. It's a relentless and heavy record from a man who works hard to keep his art pure and powerful, presenting the political and the personal without compromise. If a musician is a hypocrite, I asked him once, does that ruin his music? His answer was simple: “Yes.” —Chris Ziegler

The Dollyrots

REDWOOD BAR & GRILL

You can tell that The Dollyrots are getting more popular when you hear Kelly Ogden sing about her increasingly hectic life on the road. “Wake up with my makeup on/Clothes still from the night before/Saw the sun come up again/Chicago may be Baltimore,” the singer-bassist declares in a rapid-fire litany on the local pop-punk trio's self-titled fourth album. With their songs showing up in everything from The Vampire Diaries and Ugly Betty to The Price Is Right (!), The Dollyrots clearly are on the move nationally. Yet they haven't had to change their sound to find greater success. Ogden's cheerful, exuberant hooks are still buttressed by Luis Cabezas' surging waves of distorted guitar, finding that sweet spot between punky noise and winsome melody. —Falling James

sat 1/19

Steve Weingart & Renee Jones

BAKED POTATO

Keyboardist Steve Weingart and bassist-singer Renee Jones just might be contemporary music's odd couple. The bearded Weingart is likely the biggest NASCAR fan in jazz (he's even taken high-speed oval driving courses), while effervescent wife Renee grew up playing classical music. These days they are far from their shared Ohio roots, touring the world with guitarist Steve Lukather. Tonight Weingart and Jones team with sax/flute master Katisse Buckingham, along with drummer Simon Phillips, formerly with Jeff Beck/The Who and currently with Toto, for the release of their CD Observatory. Buckingham described the release concert for last year's outstanding Dialogue as being “like standing in front of a jet engine.” The four can only hope for similar magic this time around. —Tom Meek

Jason Harnell

BLUE WHALE

If your dad wrote the exit theme for the television version of The Incredible Hulk, you'd have a lot to live up to, musically speaking. But as the prodigious son of a keyboard prodigy, Jason Harnell has acquitted himself well, both as a studio drummer for film and television and as an uber-creative jazz musician. One of the most interesting drummers in town, he conjures myriad intricate and subtle polyrhythmic ideas, with a simmering ferocity that could ignite at the smallest spark of inspiration, or agitation. Please don't make him angry — although you might like him when he's angry. Harnell co-leads his band, Just Fudge (formerly Sigmund Fudge) with organist Joe Bagg and guitarist Jamie Rosenn. They're sure to make a delicious, gooey mess. —Gary Fukushima

Cameo, The Ohio Players, S.O.S. Band, Dazz Band, L.T.D., Klymaxx

GIBSON AMPHITHEATrE

For all the rapturous veneration of hip-hop's artistic achievements and the explosive effect it's had on the culture over the past 30-something years, the genre's fine, fractious big brother — funk — still casts a long shadow. Time was, you couldn't prowl through any ghetto without soaking up a ceaseless, seductive barrage of gloriously bumping funk hits from every cocktail lounge, front-stoop boom box, passing vehicle and open apartment window. Tonight you'll hear plenty of 'em — “Shake Your Pants,” “Take Your Time,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” You'll also get plenty of additional syncopated heft from '70s spearheads Ohio Players and hyper-bad, all-female, '80s funk sirens Klymaxx. It's never too late, children. —Jonny Whiteside

sun 1/20

Lady Gaga

STAPLES CENTER

Lady Gaga might be even more calculating and fatally self-absorbed than her idol Madonna, but there's nonetheless a goofy, underlying charm to frothy tunes like the early hit “Paparazzi” that sometimes is obscured by the glittery smoke and mirrors of her onstage spectacles. It's not easy to be a mainstream dance-pop singer who aspires to be a transgressive LGBT rebel, and the onetime Stefani Germanotta usually ends up closer to the electronic middle of the road than to the deep underground. Turning Judas Iscariot into a sympathetic, seductive character might have seemed like a provocative idea, but ultimately Lady Gaga's allegorical 2011 single “Judas” was more sensual than profane. The big problem remains Germanotta's hardly transgressive tendency to lift music and fashion styles, whether she's paying homage to such well-known predecessors as Madge and Dale Bozzio or, like a reverse Robin Hood, figuratively taking that notorious plastic bubble dress off the back of the relatively obscure Kristeen Young. Even with her considerable charisma, it's not always clear who Lady Gaga really is. Also Mon. —Falling James

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Michael Hurley

McCABE'S

Have moicy! Folkie and pure-hearted werewolf Michael Hurley has been an influence in American music since the early 1960s, roused to action by the same righteous spirit that got people like The Fugs and The Holy Modal Rounders to pick up guitars. (Well, maybe. As Hurley told one interviewer in 1997, he started playing guitar just because he liked the look of it.) But that's how Hurley is — the kind of modest guy whose funniest jokes aren't even jokes. They're true beyond true, humor that's really humanity all curled up inside songs about bank robbers and heartbreak and trains and dogs and whatever else is howling around out there in the woods, just beyond the reach of electric light. Wanna take that walk with him? First stop at this show, and next get his reissued LPs on perfect-fit label Mississippi. —Chris Ziegler

mon 1/21

Baron von Luxxury, Yellow Alex, Yung Skeeter

THE SATELLITE

Electro-pop comes in splendiferous shapes and sizes. And Baron von Luxxury brings the wicked-wit version, in which DeBarge, ELO, Hall & Oates and other formerly uncool '80s soul stylists float through the disco in super-smoove grooves and madly hooky tunes. Von Luxxury's ace The Last Seduction is out right now on Manimal Vinyl. Falsetto crooner Yellow Alex's classic soul and New Age pop brew blends Prince, Chic and FX with choreographed dance steps, bass lines and space-age sound, while Spotify “DJ in residence” Yung Skeeter, aka Trevor McFedries, has whipped out beats and remixes for Black Eyed Peas, Chris Brown and Azealia Banks. He had a top 10 album in 2007 with his rap crew Shwayze and now is launching a new mixtape/remix radio show with his Dim Mak label boss, Steve Aoki. —John Payne

tue 1/22

Quicksand

FONDA THEATRE

If there's a single reason why these New Yorkers can still fill distant theaters fully 18 years since their last release (1995's Manic Compression), it's because the aggressive sense of unease they summoned for much of the '90s has yet to be so convincingly revisited by anyone else. Quicksand are like an innocent inmate pacing a windowless cell on the eve of release, rippling with pent-up plans, belated explanations and overly marinated revenge. Like a less pretentious Tool, the recently reunited quartet bubbles, chugs and chimes on a riff until it takes on initially hidden shapes and implications, with Walter Schreifels' ragged utterances more another instrument than the main emotional event. Quicksand have come back because the intrinsically human disquiet they so deftly tap into never went away. —Paul Rogers

wed 1/23

Muse

STAPLES CENTER

Not since late-'70s Queen, to whom they owe a hefty sonic debt, has anyone made radio-friendly rock as ambitious, eclectic, escapist and just plain epic as this English trio. On last year's The 2nd Law, they meld ostensibly incongruous elements including dubstep's ominous electronica, Freddie Mercury's strutting camp, masturbatory prog guitars and frontman Matthew Bellamy's Darkness-worthy falsetto into a thoughtfully orgasmic, emotionally overloaded opus. Now a full-blown Brit institution — their song “Survival” served as the official song for last year's London Olympics — and remarkably unfettered by their limited numbers (though augmented with a keyboardist/percussionist onstage), Muse craft live shows as fascinating and challenging as their recordings, consistently leaving the impression that something much more significant than mere notes and beats just happened. (Also Thurs., Jan. 24, & Sat., Jan. 26) —Paul Rogers

Sahtyre

LOW END THEORY

Rapper Sahtyre is a Project Blowed vet who started as a promising 13-year-old, invited by the mighty Kail to come down to the open mic and learn to get REALLY good. Then he bounced toward the future after Low End Theory resident Nocando tipped him and fellow Swim Team MC Open Mike Eagle for great things. So here's a recent great thing: Sahtyre's grinding “LSD (The Anthem).” “Try to make me go to rehab like Amy,” he growls, while an already ravaged beat collapses into bass and pixels and a sloooo-mo chorus. More monsters like this, please. With Scoop DeVille, the storied L.A. rapper and producer still sailing off his recent hit work on Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city, and the happily soulful Dayvid Thomas. —Chris Ziegler

wed 1/23

Jessie Ware, RAC, Rochelle Jordan

El Rey Theatre

Fresh off the U.K. leg of her 2013 tour, Britain's next big thing brings her undeniable brand of eclectic R&B to the West Coast for this highly anticipated engagement. The South London native once was an intern at the U.K.'s Jewish Chronicle, but, after a fateful 2010 collaboration with lauded electronic outfit SBTRKT, the soulful chanteuse chose to navigate the musical path. Her widely revered vocal dexterity, likened to that of Sade by some critics, is best showcased on the celebrated tracks “Wildest Moments,” “110%” and “Sweet Talk.” In November her debut, Devotion, scored a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Prize. Tonight's show also features Drake-endorsed songstress Rochelle Jordan and master remixologist RAC. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

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thu 1/24

Wayne Kramer

GRAMMY MUSEUM

By 1975, Wayne Kramer was going nowhere fast. His main band, The MC5, had broken up three years earlier in a haze of drugs and declining popularity, and it would be several more years before the Detroit hard-rockers would receive belated recognition for influencing much of the punk generation. Meanwhile, the guitarist languished in a Kentucky prison, serving two years for selling cocaine. Kramer eventually cleaned up and turned his life around, working briefly with Was (Not Was), Johnny Thunders and even G.G. Allin, but he didn't fully get it together again musically until the '90s, when he released a series of unexpected and expansive solo albums that fused jazz and spoken word with his trademark hard-rock rambles. He hasn't forgotten his prison days and works now with the Jail Guitar Doors organization to provide guitars to inmates. If there's anyone who believes in second chances and the redemptive powers of a few, good loud power chords, it's Brother Wayne. —Falling James

FIDLAR

AMOEBA MUSIC

FIDLAR's Kuehn brothers are only now entering their 20s, but drummer Max and guitarist Elvis have already been in the punk-rock biz for more than 10 years, going back to their days in The Diffs. Yet the music on their recent single “No Waves” sounds as bratty and energetic as any band of preteens just starting out. If anything, there's even more of a subterranean garage-rock primitiveness to the single's equally negative flip side, “No Ass.” Much of that insolence comes straight from Zac Carper, who sings as if he's always sneering — and trapped inside a beer bottle. A band of brothers hasn't been this properly wild and cranky since the early era of Redd Kross. Catch FIDLAR now at this early-evening in-store set before they grow up/sober up and start playing more dignified and mature forms of music. —Falling James

Nir Felder

BLUE WHALE

Plenty of guitarists graduate from Boston's Berklee College of Music, but those who end up at the top of the heap are to be commended. In the nine years since his graduation, all Nir Felder has done is become a phenomenon in New York, playing with everybody, most notably alto sax sage Greg Osby. Felder cites John Scofield as an early influence, as shown by a willingness to explore guitar palettes trending more toward rock and blues. He also shreds like a rocker, albeit with a harmonic savvy that divulges his jazz training. You'd think at this point, someone this good would have his own album; stay tuned. With Felder are a fellow New Yorker, drummer Zach Danziger, and two Angelenos, both Kneebody cognoscenti: Adam Benjamin on keys and bassist Kaveh Rastegar. —Gary Fukushima

LA Weekly