Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From Joan Baez to a celebration of a legendary L.A. zine, the DMV's IDK and Meat Beat Manifesto, here are the 12 best music shows in L.A. this week.
Hailing from the DMV, IDK, whose name stands for Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge, has consistently released music that showcases his ability to spit bars over the hardest-hitting production. Last year, he released his critically acclaimed album IWasVeryBad in partnership with Adult Swim. Just last week, he unleashed a 15-minute short to accompany the project, which chronicles his teenage years consisting of everything from house parties to getting caught up in the streets. Tonight he marks the release of his EP titled IDK & Friends, as he continues to shut down stages on the Very Bad Run tour. —Shirley Ju
WHISKY A GO-GO
Since Bay Area sleaze rockers Vain emerged in '86, they've been consistently underrated and underappreciated. Their '89 debut album, No Respect, teased so much, earning Vain cover status on rock publications as prestigious as Kerrang! and BAM. As the '80s turned into the '90s, with bands such as Mötley Crüe and Poison already shifting tons of units, it looked like the stage was set for Vain. But things didn't work out that way. Island Records was bought by Polygram in '91, and Vain got dropped. Then grunge happened. Guns N' Roses' Steven Adler joined and left. The band split and reformed, and since the mid-'90s have just been fighting to stay alive. The tragedy is that albums like 1995's Fade and 2005's On the Line are superb, and Vain remain one of the better bands of their type. Proof? Hit the Whisky. —Brett Callwood
Guided by Voices
Since re-forming with a new lineup in 2016, Guided by Voices have already released four albums, with two more on the way. In other words, the Ohio alt-rock band have been more productive in their presumed afterlife than most groups manage to be during their entire careers. 2018's Space Gun is GBV's 25th album overall, and it finds longtime leader Robert Pollard backed by returning guitarist Doug Gillard (Death of Samantha, Cobra Verde) — who is sort of the Buckeye State's answer to Mick Ronson — and new guitarist Bobby Bare Jr., an estimable lead singer and songwriter in his own right. Being prolific isn't necessarily the same as writing memorable tunes, but Pollard covers a lot of interesting territory, blending anthemic classic-rock melodies with enigmatic lyrics, such as in "Ark Technician" and "Sport Component National." —Falling James
The gorgeous Royce Hall at UCLA seems like a perfect venue to catch the Queen of Folk, as she continues to tour this year's Whistle Down the Wind, her first studio album in a decade. As has been the norm for Baez, the album is composed of 10 reimaginings of songs by the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joe Henry (who produced the album) and Tom Waits (the title track and "Last Leaf"). Her early records were filled with traditional and Dylan tunes. Despite the fact that she is an underrated songwriter in her own right, that's all good; Baez's voice has always added an extra dimension and subtle beauty to songs that are already great, and that's a gift. The new album is no different, and it's wonderful that she's still recording music of this quality. —Brett Callwood
Les Sewing Sisters
Tonight's curious assemblage of performers is billed as the "No. 1 Sparks Party in L.A.," after "The Number One Song in Heaven," Sparks' dreamily euphoric 1979 electro-pop hit produced by Giorgio Moroder. Setting the scene for the Mael brothers' hometown performances later this week at the Palace Theatre, the Zebulon party features Sparks-spinning DJ Nina Tarr and local poet John Tottenham's "live original readings dedicated to Sparks." There will be a Sparks Pop-Up Museum with the Maels' stage clothes and other artifacts, but the most fascinating carny attraction of all will be Les Sewing Sisters, a fashion-minded duo of musical artist-pranksters, Lun*na Menoh and Saori Mitome, who opened for Sparks at El Rey Theatre last year. Standing behind (and sometimes crawling under) a table of percussive sewing machines, the pair craft together weirdly compelling hypnotic beats, electronic sound effects and playful, provocative vocals. —Falling James
Ben Is Dead Anniversary
Three decades ago, Darby Romeo published the zine Ben Is Dead in Los Angeles and, with her intrepid crew of writers and musicians, single-handedly changed the face of America's subculture. To celebrate, the Ben Is Dead 30th-anniversary party — coming on the heels of Romeo's birthday party at Cafe NELA on Friday and the Saturday symposium "The Zine Explosion Archived!" at UCLA — brings together some of Ben Is Dead's favorite people and musicians that it has supported and nurtured over the years. To wit: JFA, Skatenigs, Savage Republic, Popdefect, WACO, Glen Meadmore, John Trubee, Hepa-Titus, 11:11 (ex-Fluorescein), Superbean and a surprise band. It's a weekend of adventures that will make you misty for a time when no one really knew anything, everyone had to wait for important news, and every issue of Ben Is Dead was twinkling, revelatory and cataclysmic. —David Cotner
Radio Free Hollywood Reunion
It's hard to imagine now but in 1976 nightclubs like the Whisky and the Starwood wouldn't book unsigned bands performing original music. The entire L.A. club scene was a strictly regulated musical wasteland of cover bands and washed-up metal acts until three local groups — hard-rocking proto-punks The Dogs, aptly named power-pop hopefuls The Pop and Martha Davis' then-unknown The Motels — invoked the spirit of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney by putting on their own show in a rented Hollywood hall. That gathering did so well that the established clubs slowly began to book power-pop and even punk bands. Tonight's reunion includes ongoing groups from the era, such as The Dogs and The Last, alongside rare flashbacks from Carla Olson's reconfigured Textones, Backstage Pass, The Furys, Gregg Sutton, Andy & the Rattlesnakes, The Hollywood Stars, The Model, and former members of The Pop, The Motels and The Brats. —Falling James
THE STUDY HOLLYWOOD
Ventura County is a good place to hide a great band, since the scene up north largely centers on cover acts instead of groups making bold, aggressive underground music. The furiously hard-rocking Ojai quartet Sisterook probably would stand out as distinctive in almost any other music scene, which makes this relatively rare visit to Hollywood a prime opportunity to catch up with one of SoCal's most underrated bands. Led by witchy, charismatic singer-guitarist Evangeline Noelle and powered further by the booming bottom end of her bassist-husband, Yam, Sisterook lay down monstrously heavy riffs that fall somewhere between punk, psychedelia and grunge. Soaring above it all are Noelle's searing vocals, which she belts out with a bluesy, divalike assurance amid a hailstorm of distorted guitar sparks on such convulsive opuses as "Take Your Knife Out of My Back." —Falling James
History says that Elle King should have been forgotten by now. Her Love Stuff album and "Ex's & Oh's" single earned Rob Schneider's daughter a bunch of attention, and deservedly so. That single remains a bona fide banger — pop country with a rockabilly swing, without any of the fashionable sheen of overproduction. But a glance over our collective shoulders tells us that, usually, that would be the end and King would be destined for the "one-hit wonder" files. But here's the thing — King isn't just another Hollywood wannabe trading on her parent's fame. What we have here is a real talent. An honest and raw artist. And the sophomore Shake the Spirit album, which landed this month, is proof. —Brett Callwood
Gary Clark Jr.
THE FONDA THEATRE
By now, it should be clear that Gary Clark Jr. is more than just a bluesman. The native of Austin, Texas, can play circles around most other modern blues guitarists. Unlike so many technicians, though, Clark doesn't only dazzle with speed or resort to reverential mimicry; instead, the notes pour out of his ax with a loud, dirty, palpable ferocity that punches you in the gut with a physical presence. He's jammed and/or recorded with The Rolling Stones, ZZ Ward, Childish Gambino, Alicia Keys, Tech N9ne and even the gently innocuous Dave Matthews Band, but Clark is no sleepy revivalist. His own music on such recordings as The Story of Sonny Boy Slim and his upcoming new album is fused with hard rock and hip-hop and delivered with a controlled raw power that's heavier than grunge without devolving into cheesy metal. Also Monday, Nov. 12; Wednesday, Nov. 14; and Thursday, Nov. 15. —Falling James
Few bands in the history of bands have been as intriguing over such a grand length of time as Sparks. Brothers Ron and Russell Mael have consistently confounded expectations by blending glam rock with symphonic sounds, new wave with classical, lowbrow with high art. 1974's Kimono My House and the accompanying single, "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us," are absolutely classic, and remain the group's best-known work. But like Bowie and Lou Reed, everything they've put their name on is worth checking out, right up to last year's Hippopotamus. Even the FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks) project in 2015 was semi-interesting. These gigs at the Palace will be well worth catching. Also Thursday, Nov. 15. —Brett Callwood
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Meat Beat Manifesto
Swindon, England, is most famous for having given the world XTC and Meat Beat Manifesto (although Justin Hayward of Birmingham band The Moody Blues is from there, too). But that's not a bad return from the modest town located between Reading and Bristol in the south of Britain. MBM ended up being one of the most influential electronic industrial groups, having a big impact on Chicago label Wax Trax! and, in turn, influencing the likes of Nine Inch Nails and The Prodigy. The duo, Jack Dangers and Jonny Stephens, released their 11th studio album, Impossible Star, in January of this year, and one would imagine that we'll get a typically fierce, uncompromising, career-spanning set at 1720. Whiteqube and Sleep Clinic also play. —Brett Callwood