Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From Arizona's Meat Puppets to the classic old-school blues of Buddy Guy to a Planned Parenthood benefit featuring Inara George, here are the 12 best music shows in L.A. this week!
"I could be a big movie star but just in my head/or I could just be a lonely slob/It's all just in my head," Caitlin Dee once memorably sang as leader of local punk band Pipe Dreams. But the singer-guitarist's solo material reveals a much wider range, both musically and emotionally. "Pipe Dreams are fun and careless and exciting," she tells the Weekly, "but ... these [new] songs are coming from that uncertain place — after death but before the next life begins, when everything is still unknown and you can either be totally overwhelmed or you can just take the next step." "Trouble" is saturated with thick layers of fuzz guitar that shroud Dee's vocals in a shoegazer hypnosis, while "Satellite" is a more jangling, indie-rock reverie filled with restless longing and yearning pop melodies. —Falling James
Meat Puppets have been through many changes since they tumbled out of Arizona in 1980. Lineups have mutated, and yet the psychedelic alt-rockers have always managed to persevere, even after bassist Cris Kirkwood was shot by a security guard at a Phoenix post office in 2003 and was subsequently incarcerated for a while. Last year, drummer Derrick Bostrom made a welcome and long-overdue return to the band after an exile that stretched longer than two decades. These days, the prized original trio lineup with Bostrom, Cris Kirkwood and his brother, singer-guitarist Curt Kirkwood, has expanded to include Curt's son Elmo Kirkwood on guitar and Ron Stabinsky on keyboards. Meat Puppets' new album, Dusty Notes, veers more toward their loping, laid-back country side instead of the frenzied psychedelia and hardcore jolts of their very early days. —Falling James
José González & The String Theory
Los Angeles Theatre
There are only two ingredients needed to make a José González performance a complete experience: his hoarse yet delicate voice and his emotive guitar playing. When the Argentine-Swedish singer-songwriter pairs up with String Theory, a collective that, among other activities, also functions as an experimental chamber orchestra, it adds layers upon layers to his music. In 2018, the two entities toured Europe, the results of which were released last month as a live album. That unique, enhanced presentation of selections from three of González's better-known solo albums now comes to North America. The String Theory bring a touch of folk, a touch of musical theater and a touch of the esoteric to González's compositions, whose spare but immersive nature lends itself nicely to String Theory's creativity, particularly on favorites such as "Leaf Off/The Cave" and "Down the Line." Also on Sunday, April 7. —Lily Moayeri
THE HI HAT
Although L.A. musical insurrectionists The Warlocks share a name with the original iteration of The Grateful Dead and can also be classified as a psychedelic band, that's about all the two groups have in common aesthetically. Unlike The Dead, whose early psychedelic leanings soon devolved into aimlessly soggy, fairly insipid country-rock jamming, singer-guitarist Bobby Hecksher's Warlocks have always plunged fully into the dark, trippy side of things. The group's 2016 album, Songs From the Pale Eclipse, is infused just as much with post-punk experimentation as it is with overtly psychedelic explorations when Hecksher murmurs cryptically under a veil of shadows and distorted guitars. In The Warlocks' early days, their sonic ramblings could be unfocused, but Pale Eclipse is a disciplined, emotionally varied landscape in which inventive, hypnotic guitars blend with Hecksher's hazy, bleary-eyed revelations. —Falling James
It used to be decades between appearances in Los Angeles of enigmatic Japanese artist Keiji Haino — but luckily some prosperous saint decided to unfurl a bankroll fairly recently, and so now this time you get to see the version of Keiji Haino who plays hurdy-gurdy music. Never mind Dylan-goes-electric — it's Haino-goes-Celtic as he hammers away on the instrument that drones while it grinds and also includes a keyboard for either the playing of pretty tunes or unveiling the deeply personal and freaked-out sounds that only Keiji Haino can disgorge. It's only the second time that he's performed on this particular instrument in the States — the first time being some decades ago — and it's the only live action of his that will happen in America this year, so buy, die, etc. —David Cotner
The Lodge Room
Norwegian madman Mortiis spent much of the 2000s, after leaving black-metal pioneers Emperor, trying to convince the world that he was a real troll. Or at least, that he lived his life as one. His prosthetic nose and ears was always, if nothing else, fucking hilarious. To be fair, though, the music world needs characters like Mortiis, and when online trolls endeavor to make people miserable, it's great to have a troll who makes an effort to make people smile. His music has skirted the lines between metal, Renaissance music and electronica/industrial, which makes for a fascinating sonic soup. Live dates in this neck of the woods are rare, so catch his while you can. Just don't, you know, walk over a bridge if he's under it. —Brett Callwood
T.S.O.L., The Dwarves
Featuring original members Ron Emory (guitar), Mike Roche (bass) and Jack Grisham (vocals), T.S.O.L. continue with their unique combination of savage intensity and fulsome power leavened with morbid humor, which stands out even more in an era when so much punk rock is now fangless. Making this bill especially thrilling is the addition of The Dwarves, the profanely provocative hell-raisers led by singer Blag Dahlia and guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed. It's hard to believe that The Dwarves began as relatively restrained garage rockers who eventually evolved into the ferocious provocateurs we know and fear today, freely mixing nudity, sex and gratuitous violence onstage. In their heyday, Dwarves shows would last just 15 minutes before the stage was trashed in a glorious spectacle of blood and wrecked instruments. These days, there is more of a method to their madness and (barely) controlled chaos. —Falling James
Fresh from his victory on the undeniable mind-fuck that was reality show The Masked Singer, rapper and singer T-Pain is determined to enjoy a fresh start to his career. While the TV show was absolutely bizarre — watching an anonymous T-Pain decked out as a cuddly monster and going up against an anonymous Gladys Knight dressed as a bee (among others) — it did prove that the man has a strong set of lungs on him. And that's significant, because people have criticized his often autotuned songs since he first unleashed the Rappa Ternt Sanga album in 2005. Silly title aside, that album went gold and now, following his monster-fueled success, T-Pain is having the last laugh. Abby Jasmine also plays. —Brett Callwood
The Coach House
At 82, Buddy Guy is one of the last remaining old-school blues legends on the circuit and, not to be morbid, everyone needs to grab the chance to see him while we still have the opportunity. The "Stone Crazy" singer and guitarist was ranked 23rd in Rolling Stone's "Greatest Guitarists of All Time," and it's tough to argue — the man has always been able to pull the most beautiful, emotive, heart-wrenching sounds from his instrument, from his early work with Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells and Muddy Waters, through his debut Left My Blues in San Francisco solo album, right up to last year's excellent The Blues Is Alive and Well album. Buddy Guy is, quite simply, a national treasure. —Brett Callwood
Shredder Nita Strauss has seen her stock rise at an impressive rate over the past couple of years. After playing with all-female Iron Maiden tribute The Iron Maidens and reformed hair rockers Femme Fatale for while, Strauss was chosen to take over from Orianthi in Alice Cooper's band. That placed her in front of massive crowds around the world, and now she is ready to emerge as a solo artist. Her inspiration comes from like-minded fret-dazzlers such as Steve Vai (she says the movie Crossroads — where Vai played the Devil's own guitarist — had a big impact) and Yngwie Malmsteen, and there are moments on her Controlled Chaos solo debut that both of those guys would be proud of. She also plays on Thursday, April 11, at the Whisky a Go Go. —Brett Callwood
Inara George & Larry Goldings
LARGO AT THE CORONET
Inara George is a pop-minded singer who has had a thriving solo career in addition to stellar collaborations with Greg Kurstin (as The Bird & the Bee) and Eleni Mandell, Becky Stark and Alex Lilly (as The Living Sisters). Jazz pianist Larry Goldings has recorded and performed with numerous musicians across a variety of genres, including Charlie Haden, Gaby Moreno, John Legend, Beck, Jack DeJohnette, Maceo Parker, Bette Midler, De La Soul, John Mayer and Melody Gardot. George and Goldings have apparently written a host of new songs together, which they'll perform at Largo in a Planned Parenthood benefit titled "The Case for Birth Control." Goldings' savvy keyboard dexterity should provide a firm launching pad for George's breezy pop melodies. As with many nights at this venue, expect some unexpected guest stars. —Falling James
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The punk-rock pedigree is strong here. Jared Warren played bass in Washington post-hardcore band Karp and then, notably, art-stoner vets the Melvins, while drummer Coady Willis was in the Murder City Devils as well as the Melvins. Big Business formed in 2005, and that year's debut album, Head for the Shallow, was a breath of stale-beer-filled air. Clearly taking notes from their sludgy former employers, the duo (the lineup has shifted slightly over the years) have put out a total of six albums now, culminating in this year's The Beast You Are. They remain a brutal tour de force, and absolutely refuse to compromise. That's exactly how we like them. Qui also plays. —Brett Callwood