Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From the god of Japanese noise, Merzbow, to a SoCal Christmas album, George Clinton and Nortec Collective, here are the 12 best music shows in Los Angeles this week!
Tijuana Panthers, Gothic Tropic
Tijuana Panthers kick up a lot of punky energy with such rambunctious tracks as "Right and Wrong," from their 2015 album, Poster (Innovative Leisure), but some of the Long Beach trio's most interesting songs come wrapped in different musical disguises. "Church Bells" is a surging, sugary power-pop bouquet of jangling guitars, while "I Hate Saturday Nights" mixes garage rock with a hint of Smiths-style melancholy. "Send Down the Bombs" sounds like a punk title but Tijuana Panthers croon breezily instead about "a mission of love from the sky." Gothic Tropic is a project led by singer-guitarist Cecilia Della Peruti, and her 2017 record, Fast or Feast, is lit up with such fizzy and gently spacey pop interludes as "Cry Like a Man" and "Feed You to the Sharks." —Falling James
Earthless bring the thunder for the second of two nights at the Satellite. Black Heaven, the latest album by the San Diego trio, contains only six tracks but three of them are longer than eight minutes apiece, giving singer-guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and Rocket From the Crypt drummer Mario Rubalcaba plenty of room to ramble. The record might not be as psychedelic as previous releases, as Mitchell sticks to more metallic Black Sabbath–style riff-slinging and journeyman hard-rock howling. The impact of such overtly rocking tracks as "Volt Rush" and "Electric Flame" is largely retro, and "Sudden End" is a fairly straightforward power ballad blown up to large proportions. Also Thursday, Dec. 13. —Falling James
Parliament Funkadelic man and p-and-g-funk pioneer George Clinton, the sci-fi troubadour with the maggot brain and smelly finger, returns to Los Angeles this week, always a happy hunting ground for the man. This festive club gig by the interstellar legend alongside Peanut Butter Wolf and C-Minus promises to be a sparkling opportunity for fans to see Clinton in a lively environment as the man dials back the years. Let's face it, few things in life are more certain than the fact that "Atomic Dog" will get everybody in a room dancing like a loon. The feather-headed darling is still blessed with charisma by the bucketload, so rest assured that two weeks before Christmas, George Clinton will be bringing the joy to Catch One. —Brett Callwood
THE REGENT THEATER
The god of Japanese "noise" is one Akita Masami, aka Merzbow. He's famed for a brutal anti-music that deals in clashing clusters of sonority whose radical rewirings of sampling softwares, digital/analog effects, obscure radio transmissions and mic punishment can be literally painful — though cleansing and surprisingly accessible after one's ears adjust a bit. The brain-shearing highs of his laptop ruminations are incredibly focused, his questioning locomotions through an industrial landscape at once exhilarating and demanding. If you dug a bit, you might find traces of progressive rock, drone/psychedelia, black metal, free jazz and early electronic music in Merzbow, along with an outlook shaped by dada and fetish culture. While his Vegan Straight Edge Noise Project is Merzbow's current pursuit, most likely he won't be strumming an acoustic guitar and warbling about baby harp seals. Also: severe noise and doom electronics courtesy Prurient, and avant-classical-metal composer Kelly Moran. —John Payne
Something Shocking From the Stocking record release
Something Shocking From the Stocking is a new CD via JoZee Records that sees a bunch of rock & roll and punk groups, mostly from Southern California, performing Christmas songs. Some of them are originals, others are fresh takes on traditional favorites, but all are centered around this most wonderful time of the year. For contrast, hear The Darts' '60s girl-group swagger of "Mistletoe" and Insect Surfers' surf-rock instrumental version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." A handful of the contributors get together at Cafe Nela to perform songs from the album and more, including The Schizophonics, Santa Sabbath, Magnet Hearts, I See Hawks in L.A., Double Naught Spy Car, The Freeks and The Rotters. Beats listening to "Little Drummer Boy" over and over. —Brett Callwood
The MEC Early Music Ensemble, ECHOI Ensemble
ZIPPER CONCERT HALL
Minimalist composer Steve Reich sets adrift seemingly simple, repetitive melodies that expand and ripple through the water, slowly evolving into new shapes while remaining anchored to their original pulses or patterns. His epic mid-1970s rhythmic incantation Music for 18 Musicians weaves together strings, winds, voices, marimba, xylophone and piano into a mesmerizing mosaic of brightly colorful sounds that occasionally evoke hints of birdsong and rainy-weather wind chimes. Monday Evening Concerts director Jonathan Hepfer summons the forces of ECHOI Ensemble and the MEC Early Music Ensemble to contrast and align Reich's modernist works, including the vocal collage Come Out (1966), with the polyphonic vocal chanting of 12th-century composers Léonin and Pérotin. —Falling James
Failings, Small Drone Orchestra
The cover art for Heaven Music by Ian Hawk, leader of the Portland, Oregon, project Failings, depicts a bucolic wintry scene of gigantic pine trees shrouded in new snow. But the two-song, 25-minute release is not a cheery Christmas record. Instead, the two tracks — the sprawling "Breathe" and the slightly less sprawling and more percussive "Breath" — well up into intense fusillades of droning noise that rupture the sky with an awe-inspiring force before eventually subsiding into relatively dormant instrumental passages. In Hawk's mind, heaven is a place of extreme electrical storms. Local sound artist Don Lewis also shapes droning sounds into interesting forms of new music but, when he methodically runs a bow over an electric bass and manipulates tones via an analog synthesizer, the impact is more subtly ominous and hypnotic. Plus, Black Dog and Jamie Green. —Falling James
Since 1999, Nortec Collective have been bridging two seemingly distant and opposing worlds, techno and traditional norteño music. They are among the leaders in the electronic dance music subgenre nortec, a unique spin on past and present that originated in Tijuana. The group's four members often split up into related projects such as Clorofila and Bostich + Fussible, but tonight they're billed at the Roxy as Nortec Collective. Such merrily entrancing tracks as "Radio Borderland" and the effusively poppy "Tijuana Makes Me Happy" manage to find the catchy similarities between festive traditional Mexican dance music and relatively modern techno grooves. The banda-loving band released what purported to be their final album, Motel Baja, in 2014, and yet they continue to re-emerge in various high-stepping configurations. —Falling James
These guitar widdle fests are generally an acquired taste. Like the G3 shows organized by Joe Satriani, they're largely populated by people who wish to God they could play guitar as fast and shreddy as the people onstage. It can get a bit much. That said, the lineup here is undeniably impressive, if you like that sort of thing. Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen will always get fret-heads giddy, while Ozzy/Black Label Society six-stringer Zakk Wylde and Extreme man Nuno Bettencourt have been respected players for decades. The wild card (as opposed to the Wylde card) here is Tosin Abasi of prog-metal troupe Animals as Leaders — one can be sure that he'll be looking to earn his shred-legend props here. Get ready to be dazzled. —Brett Callwood
THE REGENT THEATER
The pairing of Detroit post-punk group Protomartyr and Canadian post-punk group Preoccupations is, if not inspired, certainly smart. Both capture an earthy, honest, fucking gloomy vibe that lends serious weight to their output. Protomartyr were kicking ass in the Motor City for a while before the second album, 2014's Under Color of Official Right, picked up the Pitchfork seal of coolness. 2015's The Agent Intellect and 2017's Relatives in Descent have allowed their rise to remain slow and steady but still enviable. Protomartyr continue to earn solid reviews and pick up fans by a steadfast desire to play this game by their own rules. Compromising isn't in the cards. Preoccupations seem to live by a similar ethos, which is why this gig will work so well. —Brett Callwood
Thom Yorke has some new music out. It's for the soundtrack to the film Suspiria, a film that encapsulates no small amount of the otherness and the doubt and the paranoia that underpin Yorke's music, both on his own and with Radiohead. It also dovetails nicely with the opulence and implied menace of a cinematic palace like the Orpheum. He'll probably also play tracks off his records The Eraser and Tomorrow's Modern Boxes. The question remains: Are you going to let your mind wander to contemplate how good Radiohead songs are in comparison — or are you going to appreciate these songs as works of art unto themselves, pristine and thriving in a singular moment in which you find yourself present and aware enough to accept them on their own merits? The choice is yours and yours alone. Also Thursday, Dec. 20. —David Cotner
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THE FONDA THEATRE
Al Jourgensen and Ministry may not have been able to match the commercial success of 1992's Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs in the 26 years since, but one suspects that the main man couldn't give a shit. Tracks like "Just One Fix" and "Jesus Built My Hotrod" saw the band stretch their legs outside of the ultra-hip industrial underground where they were already beloved thanks to the albums The Land of Rape and Honey and The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste. Suddenly they were on MTV and performing to thousands. Subsequent releases haven't been as mainstream popular but they've still been great. They might not be as stark and cold as the likes of Skinny Puppy or Front Line Assembly, but nobody does the industrial thing as ferociously as Ministry. Also Friday, Dec. 21. —Brett Callwood