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Mini Bear
Abby Mahler

12 Best Music Shows in L.A. This Week

Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From local indie-pop project Mini Bear to Freddie Gibbs, Nine Inch Nails and Death Valley Girls, here are the 12 best music shows in Los Angeles this week!

fri 12/7

Neko Case

THE ORPHEUM

"I miss the smell of mystery, reverb leaking out of tavern doors and not knowing how the sounds were made," Neko Case laments on "Curse of the I-5 Corridor," an epic, doom-ridden romantic duet with Mark Lanegan from her latest album, Hell-On. The native of Tacoma, Washington, possesses a majestic voice that soars and sears through the bleak blue night like a beacon. But she also has a rich, lyrically surreal vision that — when combined with collaborations with her New Pornographers bandmate A.C. Newman, Laura Veirs, Archers of Loaf's Eric Bachmann and especially Paul Rigby — gives her voice something meaningful to say. Images of mystery, animals, extinction and eternal romance course throughout the record, from the contemplative ballad "Halls of Sarah" and the hypnotic reverie "Gumball Blue" to the enigmatic musical riddle "Pitch or Honey" and Case's rhapsodic homage to the "Last Lion of Albion." —Falling James

Skating Polly

MOROCCAN LOUNGE

It's tempting to still view Oklahoma City riot grrrls Skating Polly as the new kids on the block, but in fact the band (originally a duo composed of stepsisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, later joined by their brother Kurtis Mayo) formed in 2009 and their fifth studio album, The Make It All Show, came out this year. All of the influences that you'd expect are present and correct — Babes in Toyland, Hole, L7, Sleater-Kinney, Veruca Salt, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The Breeders — with a bit of Fiona Apple and Liz Phair thrown in for good measure. But, more important, these noise-makers are finding their own sound with increasing ferocity as time progresses. It's loud and sweet, honest and angry, intelligent and uncompromising punk rock. Potty Mouth and Dimber also play. —Brett Callwood

sat 12/8

Mini Bear, Ramonda Hammer

THE HI HAT

Lauren Kop is the singer, producer, drum programmer and all-around mastermind behind local indie-pop project Mini Bear, which she describes as "nostalgic synth-pop for those who like to dance and cry." Her shiny silver-and-pink stage attire belies the sadness and romantic longing underpinning such brave-new-world anthems as "Technopoly Conversations" and the 2018 single "Cyberlove." Robotic technology and human passion collide and fuse together as funky bass, boxy beats, waves of pulsing synths and Kop's yearning vocals evoke '80s dance pop. Mini Bear's effervescent pop will be a distinct contrast with Ramonda Hammer's surging, Nirvana-like grunge dynamics and leader Devin Davis' powerful yet melodic vocals. This fundraiser for Girls Rock Santa Barbara also features Flaviya, Blushh, Esme & Zadie, Vanessa Silberman and Bridgette. —Falling James

Orbital

BELASCO THEATER

Legendary English dance project Orbital is composed of Phil and Paul Hartnoll. The brothers' first single, 1989's ethereal "Chime," quickly became a rave anthem and ultimately reached the British Top 20, landing the duo on Top of the Pops. Critically acclaimed albums followed, including Orbital 2 (dubbed "The Brown Album") and In Sides. Crucially, Orbital's 1990s output appealed to electronic fans as well as to rock listeners, establishing Orbital as one of the key crossover acts responsible for the explosion of electronic music in the '90s, particularly in the United States, where the sound was marketed by major labels as electronica (similar to today's use of the term EDM). —Matt Miner

The Stitches, The Zeros

ALEX'S BAR

Though O.C. punks The Stitches formed in '94, the sound is all 1970s. Their two studio albums — 8X12 in '95 and 12 Imaginary Inches in 2002 — saw their stock rise for a short while, built on a sound pulling from the first wave of L.A. punk (Germs, Screamers, Geza X, X, etc.) as well as Brit bands such as the U.K. Subs, Chelsea, Sham 69 and The Business. There hasn't been any new music in a while, but we can hope. For this Long Beach gig, The Stitches will join forces with Chula Vista's The Zeros, a real-deal '70s band whose first gig was with the Germs back in '77. The Zeros are semi-legendary around these parts, and this pairing promises a meeting of two like-minded punk outfits. The Vulturas and Tenement Rats also play. —Brett Callwood

sun 12/9

Pylon Reenactment Society, Alice Bag

ECHOPLEX

When is a tribute band more than just a tribute band? At first blush, Pylon Reenactment Society would appear to be a modern tribute to the inventive late-1970s Athens, Georgia, post-punk band group Pylon. But PRS differ from typical cover bands in two significant ways. The homage is fronted by Pylon's provocative singer, Vanessa Briscoe Hay, giving the project immediate credibility. Another significant difference is that Hay's current group doesn't only perform vintage Pylon classics such as "Cool," "Weather Radio" and "No Clocks." PRS just released a 7-inch single with two brand-new songs, "Messenger" backed with "Cliff Notes." The A-side is an intriguing track as Hay purrs enigmatically over a rubbery bass line and sliced-up guitar accents, emphasizing that the charismatic vocalist's worldview is just as (post)modern as ever. Plus, L.A. punk priestess Alice Bag. —Falling James

mon 12/10

Freddie Gibbs

EL REY THEATRE

Hailing from Indiana but now based in Los Angeles, the You Only Live 2wice rapper is known for his witty bars, gritty punchlines and ability to spit in any given situation. Coming out of Gary back home, which is known to be one of the roughest parts of the state, real name Fredrick Tipton uses music as both his outlet and a means of income. Finding his footing as an independent rapper after a stint with Interscope, Gibbs has since started his own label called ESGN, the same title as his 2013 debut studio album. Now he's embarking on his own Freddie Tour, in light of his most recent fourth studio album. The self-titled project features his daughter, Irie Jane Gibbs, and L.A.'s own 03 Greedo. —Shirley Ju

tue 12/11

Inara George

LARGO AT THE CORONET

In tonight's benefit for Communities in Schools Los Angeles, several of this town's cleverest pop musicians will be paired in teams and tasked with writing new tunes as part of a holiday edition of Eleni Mandell's ongoing Song Club. The twist is that Mandell will issue a unique challenge to each duo (such as "Write a love song using only two chords and no rhymes"). The teams include Wendy Wang and Honeyhoney's Ben Jaffe; Erica Canales and Maria del Pilar; Belle Brigade's Barbara Gruska with Alex Lilly; Inara George and her Bird and the Bee bandmate Greg Kurstin; and Mandell and Steve Gregoropoulos reviving their duo, The Grabs. If time permits, the evening will close with "a songwriting lightning-round session in the last 15 minutes." —Falling James

wed 12/12

Nine Inch Nails

HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM

This show will actually mark the midway point for Nine Inch Nails' run of six nights at the Palladium between Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 15. So hey, by the Wednesday show Trent Reznor should be fully warmed up. Not that he needs it; the brains behind NIN is one of music's true artists, workhorses and perfectionists and, like Bowie, he has a fan base that is prepared to join him for a ride through all of his gloriously awkward tilts and turns. The man can do what he wants, and this year's Bad Witch is a stunning slab of uncomfortable, stark industrial rock. Arguably more interesting is the fact that Scottish goth-rockers The Jesus and Mary Chain will open the shows on this Cold and Black and Infinite: North America tour. It's not like Reznor to look backward, but this is clearly a nod to one of his influences. Also Dec. 8, 11-12 and 14-15. —Brett Callwood

thu 12/13

Maria Taylor, Orenda Fink

MOROCCAN LOUNGE

Azure Ray are a strange folk-pop duo. Just when you think they've disappeared forever, Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink reappear out of the mist and remind everyone how quietly intoxicating their music can be. Earlier this year, Azure Ray reunited for a sleepily enchanting set at the Lodge Room in what was billed as a one-off show. But last month they released a new EP, Waves, featuring such mellow songs as "Palindrome" and the ghostly echoes of "Last Summer in Omaha." The record also includes a remake of the title track of Azure Ray's 2003 album, Hold on Love, replacing the original version's engrossingly cloudy arrangement with a clearer, starker approach. Tonight, Taylor and Fink will perform separate solo sets before coming together as Azure Ray. —Falling James

Doyle

WHISKY A GO GO

Erstwhile Misfits man Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein once said that his Doyle band, fronted by Alex "Wolfman" Story, are equal to the best musicians he's played with. His two albums with the band, Abominator in 2013 and Doyle II: As We Die last year, are pretty damn good slices of dark punk, too — though they don't hold a candle to Walk Among Us, Earth AD/Wolf's Blood or even American Psycho. Still, you have to admire the man's passion. A gap in the schedule for the reformed original Misfits means that Doyle can squeeze in two nights at the Whisky. Scurvy Kids, Instigator, Delphic Sibyl, Killer Wolf and Luna 13 also play on Thursday, while Scurvy Kids, Satanic Johnny, Killer Wolf, Kill As One, Inure, Private Investigators and The Pawns join Doyle on Friday, Dec. 14. —Brett Callwood

Death Valley Girls

ALEX'S BAR

By the time this Long Beach gig rolls around, Death Valley Girls will already have played the Echo on Nov. 30, so this is a second chance to see the awesome local punks inside of a couple of weeks, as they celebrate the release of their stupendous new album, Darkness Rains. It is a killer piece of work, too; its opening track, "More Dead," is reminiscent of The Stooges' classic "Loose," and that theme continues throughout. In fact, Lord Iggy Pop himself can be seen eating a hamburger in the video for new single "Disaster (Is What We're After)." An endorsement from Ig, quite frankly, is the punk equivalent of a gold record. And this band deserve it. Egrets on Ergot, Girl Tears and The Vivids also play. —Brett Callwood

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