Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From a rocking punk reunion at Alex's Bar, to rebel rapper P.O.S., to Ja Rule & Ashanti for Valentine's Day, here are the 11 best music shows in L.A. this week!
Danko Jones, Nashville Pussy
WHISKY A GO GO
What a double bill this is! Canadian rock trio Danko Jones are led by Danko Jones himself (it's the name of the band and the singer, like Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson), and the band have been putting on a riotous rock & roll show since forming in 1996. Jones himself is a stunning frontman, part Reverend Horton Heat and part Little Richard. He holds a crowd in the palm of his hand like a TV preacher, albeit one with a hell-raising side. Meanwhile, Atlanta's Nashville Pussy never really got over the loss of statuesque original bassist Corey Parks, with the list of former band members creeping up since then, but the albums have still been a good time, right up to last year's not-at-all-subtle Pleased to Eat You. Prima Donna and Rogue Agent also play. —Brett Callwood
The world that Flat Worms dwell in is a deep, dark subterranean place filled with dread, tension and agitation. "Dust settles on the eyelids/Silence grows like resentment," singer-guitarist Will Ivy growls as bassist Tim Hellman (Oh Sees) and drummer Justin Sullivan (Night Shop) maintain an urgent post-punk groove on "Plastic at Home," from the L.A. trio's new EP, Into the Iris. Ivy's riffs careen recklessly around the racetrack on seedy, throbbing blasts such as "Shouting at the Wall" and "Surreal New Year" before they're hammered firmly into place by Sullivan and Hellman. Produced by Ty Segall in his home studio and released on his Drag City–distributed label God? Records, Into the Iris is a Wire-like collision of angular chords and shards of noise that are occasionally topped with compelling shout-along choruses. —Falling James
Having formed in 1994 in Devon, a gorgeous county in the southwest of England, Muse took a while to really get going thanks to incessant comparisons to fellow Brits Radiohead. In truth, that had more to do with tonal similarities between the voices of Tom Yorke and Muse's Matt Bellamy than anything substantive, and by the time Muse released the album Origin of Symmetry in 2001 they were in full swing. Blending Queen's pomp with the epic prog of ELO, with a raw, punky edge, Muse's real strength is in their songs. "Plug in Baby" remains a banger, and last year's Simulation Theory is solid proof that the band have lost none of their gift for crushing melodies and dazzling virtuosity. —Brett Callwood
Alice Bag, Avengers
The guys at Alex's Bar have put together a dream punk-rock four-band bill here. Opening up proceedings are late-'70s L.A. punks The Alley Cats, led by lifer Randy Stodola alongside new bassist Apryl Cady (who replaced the beloved Diane Chai), followed by The Neighborhood Brats, a band that formed in San Francisco in 2012 before relocating to this region. The top of the bill is irresistible. Former Bags leader Alice Bag seems to be enjoying a new lease on life of late; her recent material has been awesome, and she's inspiring the youth all over again with her valuable, unrelenting activism. Headliners the Avengers are the cherry on this delicious cake. Still awesome live, Penelope Houston is one of the all-time great punk singers and songwriters. Her later career as a singer-songwriter is solid proof. Damn, this is a great bill. —Brett Callwood
Rap is another form of punk rock and musical rebellion, and Stefon Alexander, who goes by the acronym P.O.S., has long combined the two genres for maximum impact in a variety of projects. The Minneapolis rapper is a member of the hip-hop supergroup Doomtree and Minnesota noise-experimentalists Marijuana Deathsquads, and he used to front the punk groups Om, Building Better Bombs and Degenerates. On his most recent solo record, Chill, Dummy, P.O.S. collaborates with such stellar visionaries and wordsmiths as Busdriver, Dwynell Roland, Rapper Hooks and Moncelas Boston. Exchanging verses with Open Mike Eagle and Manchita on "Infinite Scroll," P.O.S. poignantly reveals, "I am a dead man walking/Them streets ain't talking, man/They busy talking on they phones. ... Feeling every feeling, every feeling I can stand/Unplugged, unstuck instead of unwound and undone." —Falling James
MAUI SUGAR MILL SALOON
Bluesman Anthony Gomes describes himself as the classic triple threat — guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. It's tough to put together a convincing argument against that. In fact, Blues Revue Magazine said, "Gomes' formidable guitar chops and authentic singing place him in the forefront of modern blues," while none other than B.B. King said, "A very talented guitarist ... and where did that voice come from?" That's high praise but completely deserved. The Canadian artist, now living in St. Louis, has put out 13 awesome albums since kicking off in 1998, including last year's killer Peace, Love & Loud Guitars. It'll be cool to see him in this relatively intimate setting. The Terraplanes also play. —Brett Callwood
THE LOVE SONG
"I've lived all over and played all over. I'm ready for anything you've got," Sissy Brown declares boldly on her Facebook page. The Oklahoma native strums a traditional brand of folk, honky-tonk and country music, and tonight she wanders in from the prairie for a free set at the intimate Love Song. "There's a place I know to get well," Brown bursts out in a pealing voice on the ballad "Last Real Bar in Oklahoma." "It has the charm of an angel fallen to hell." The singer possesses a voice as big, pure and wide as a windswept horizon as she tries to commemorate the forgotten lives of people who are "down on their luck." Brown opens up her heart and reveals her romantic side on "I Think of You" before chasing off a rival on "Home Wrecker." —Falling James
Omar Banos, better known as Cuco, had a phenomenal 2018 but, to be fair, his rise has been steady and impressive since he first burst onto the scene. He spent the latter part of his teens crooning gorgeous ballads and breaking unsuspecting hearts. By the end of the summer of 2017, "Lo Que Siento" was earning him 350,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Last April, he earned a bunch of new fans thanks to two well-received appearances at Coachella, and at this point he has earned swoon status with Chicano teens around the country, if not farther afield. The guy seems like the personification of humility, which, alongside his obvious musical talent, makes him extremely likable. —Brett Callwood
The circuitously fortuitous journey undertaken by the musician known as Laraaji began — as many journeys of thousands of miles do — with a single step. Buying a pawn-shop zither in the '70s on an auspicious whim, he was heard while busking in a park by Brian Eno and signed on the spot to his Editions EG label, an act that produced Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, one of the more enduring and emblematic ambient albums of the '70s. At points raucous, funky, contemplative and transcendent, Laraaji's music is something meant to access the higher aspects of your being, bringing you to a deeper sense of self-awareness — but not self-consciousness — through listening. To put it more metaphysically: Close two eyes, and another one opens. Also tonight: modern-day ambiance merchants Dallas Acid and laughing meditator and/or sound healer Arjhiroula "Arji" Cakouros (OceAnanda). —David Cotner
Ja Rule, Ashanti
Ja Rule & Ashanti on Valentine's Day? Serving as the Valentine's Day special, the dynamic duo will take over the Novo for what we could only imagine is the most romantic concert of the year. Hailing from Queens, New York, Ja Rule first rose to prominence in the 2000s on Irv Gotti's Murder Inc. imprint. Ashanti was bred nearby in Glen Cove and has been slaying the music game since she was discovered as a teenager. Together, the two will perform some of their biggest hits, including "Always on Time," "Mesmerize" and "Down 4 U" — on top of their own hit singles. —Shirley Ju
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Jesse Jo Stark
Jesse Jo Stark manufactures a ton of shadowy atmosphere in the torrid songs on her recent EP, Dandelion. "Spreading like a tropical disease, hanging in my haunted summer breeze/Yeah, all the girls are skeletons/They want to jump your bones," the L.A. singer purrs dismissively on "Love Is in the Air," her words wrapped in a haze of '60s psychedelic-pop keyboards and dark guitar chords. Stark switches gears on "Breakfast With Lou," an unexpectedly breezy pop fantasy about wanting to hang out with the famously curmudgeonly leader of The Velvet Underground. Similarly, she romanticizes airily about a seedy Manhattan landmark with "Chelsea Hotel," belying its tangled and bloody history with a cheery melody. Stark returns to her funereal intensity on the echo-spangled dream-pop ballad "Monster Man." —Falling James