Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help navigate this embarrassment of riches. From the classic sitar music of Anoushka Shankar to the fantastic lineup at KDAY's Krush Groove to Ministry celebrating a Wax Trax! Records documentary, here are the 12 best music shows in L.A. this week!
It's rare these days that you hear about musicians becoming one with their instrument. Maybe people are just too detached to make it happen as once they did. The late jazz guitarist Emily Remler was one such player, for instance — as was the classical piano colossus that was Vladimir Horowitz. Sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar is another of those rare players who attain the apex and apogee of their chosen music through the communion they reach by immersing themselves in the intricacies of one of the most magical of all possible instruments. Those who have performed alongside her — Sting, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Bell — are blessed for her presence in their musical lives. Those who experience the depth of feeling she wrings from the sitar — and the atmosphere surrounding it — remain forever transformed. —David Cotner
Maya Jane Coles
April is in full swing, which signals that time of year when Sound Nightclub's Friday night Framework party extends for seven days. Spread over two weekends and the week in between, it's full-blown FOMO to miss even one night of curated, high-quality seasoned DJs and their excellent music choices. This year is no exception. Marques Wyatt, Hot Since 82 and Deep Dish are some of the dance floor–busting talent leading up to Friday's event featuring the inimitable Maya Jane Coles. It's a rare treat to see someone of Coles' status at such an intimate venue. The experienced selector has a patented touch that goes deep in exploring the dark corners of techno and house. This can be heard in her crafted sets and her original productions, including her recent on-point remix of Hozier's "Movement." —Lily Moayeri
KDAY Krush Groove
The 10th anniversary of 93.5 KDAY's Krush Groove event is being celebrated in style, with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Headlining is local legend Ice Cube, who put out his typically topical 10th studio album, Everythang's Corrupt, in December. The guy's on the cusp of his half-century but shows no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, a whole new audience was introduced to the joys of N.W.A thanks to the Straight Outta Compton movie. Also on the bill, we have Cleveland old-schoolers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Cube's Westside Connection bandmate Mack 10, E-40, Warren G, Too Short, DJ Quik, Tha Dogg Pound and MC Eiht. That's a lot of lyric to love. —Brett Callwood
Notes explode from Mdou Moctar's guitar like radiant sparkles of supernatural light. They rain in patterns and expand in all directions like brightly flickering constellations, mesmerizing the listener before the Tuareg musician has even begun singing. On Moctar's latest album, Ilana (The Creator), "Asshet Akal" commences with austere, serpentine twists of guitar before the rest of the band locks in with fulsome hard-rock power. His searing, psychedelic blues guitar torches a hallway of echoes on the minutelong interlude "Inizgam," paving the way a few tracks later for the monumental guitar frenzy of "Tarhatazed," which is driven by a hard reggae groove crowned with Moctar's spacy chants. "My people are dispersed across different countries," he laments on the languidly poignant idyll "Tumastin" as jangling flurries of guitars and echoes cycle around him. —Falling James
Channel 3, Max Gardener
Channel 3's classic early-'80s blasts of anger "I've Got a Gun" and especially "Manzanar" — a furious broadside about the internment of Japanese-American citizens — still raise literal chills today. But the Cerritos quartet led by singer-guitarist Mike Magrann and guitarist Kimm Gardener have never stopped playing and evolving, and their new EP, The Bellwether, embodies several of their styles. The slam-bang "What You Need" evokes CH3's hardcore-punk roots, but the EP's title track and a thoroughly unexpected but satisfying cover of The Plimsouls' "How Long Will It Take" demonstrate Magrann and Gardener's fondness for catchy power-pop hooks. At this free matinee, Gardener's son Max celebrates the release of his new album, Children Melting Velvet, a contrastingly ethereal set of synth-pop reveries. Plus, The Capsouls and Jackie Mendez. —Falling James
"Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together," reads the bio blurb on Bad Wave's Facebook page. You have to tip your hat to that level of candid honesty from this Los Angeles duo (Tucker Tota and Patrick Hart). The Guardian named them "New Band of the Week" a couple of years ago, marveling at their big tunes and songs about serial killers. There's nothing overtly grotesque here, though — rather, Bad Wave specialize in synth-pop that is both infectiously melodic and boldly morbid. This show is part of Low Hum's Monday night residency, and BLACKPAW, deafmute and mmwilks (DJ) also play. —Brett Callwood
Ministry, Cold Cave
This one's going to be interesting. The evening doubles as a screening for documentary Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records, a celebration of the groundbreaking Chicago label (and store). Industrial pioneers Ministry will perform a Wax Trax!–era set (which pretty much means the early stuff), and Wesley Eisold's Cold Cave also plays. There also will be a panel discussion, involving Groovie Mann of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. That's a lot to look forward to for fans of the label that also gave the world KMFDM, Front 242, Meat Beat Manifesto, Front Line Assembly and the Young Gods. The story of Wax Trax! is one that has been hypothesized about relentlessly, so it'll be great to get it straight. —Brett Callwood
Flock of Dimes, Madeline Kenney
"Talk is dangerous," Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, aka Flock of Dimes, confides on "The Sisters," before reprising the line a minute later as "Life is dangerous." Her mood is more gently contemplative than alarmed as her voice drifts aloft in a breeze of guitars and keyboards. "The Sisters" is half of a new split single with Madeline Kenney, who responds with "Helpless," in which her hushed vocals are boxed in a gauzy haze of dreamy harmonies, laid-back beats and atmospheric electronica. The duo first realized that they were simpatico musical collaborators when Wasner produced Kenney's 2018 album, Perfect Shapes. That record ranges from intimate soundscapes ("Bad Idea") and arty, upbeat pop ("No Weekend") to undulating pop riffs ("Cut Me Off"). —Falling James
THE FONDA THEATRE
This is a killer double bill for fans of post-hardcore. L.A.'s Failure gained near legendary status when they split in 1997 thanks to excellent albums Comfort, Magnified and Fantastic Planet. Often compared to the likes of Soundgarden and Nirvana back in the '90s, Failure stood out thanks to a lush, psych-rock edge and a bit of polish. Their reformation in 2014 was greeted with feverish excitement from longtime fans, while the band relished the chance to get out in front of new crowds. The two albums released since then have been awesome. Meanwhile, the story of England's Swervedriver is eerily similar, splitting in '98 and then reforming in 2008. They also have a spectacular arsenal of material to pull from, and that's why this lineup is such a thrill. —Brett Callwood
When The Scientists made their local debut last year — four decades after forming in Perth, Australia — demand was so great that they sold out two shows at Zebulon. Following those two electrifying nights, singer Kim Salmon, guitarist Tony Thewlis, drummer Leanne Cowie and bassist Boris Sujdovic move up to a bigger venue for their return. Set lists from the current tour indicate they are still focusing on classic songs from their mid-1980s heyday, including the unsettling garage-rock dread of "Set It on Fire" and the fuzzed-out menace of "Swampland," which sounds like an Outback marriage of The Cramps and The Gun Club. "When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow" exudes more of a seedy Suicide pallor. "If you want to be sad, do it somewhere else," Salmon advises with a deadpan Aussie drawl on "This Is My Happy Hour." —Falling James
WHISKY A GO GO
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You've got to hand it to Jon Miki Thor, bodybuilder and mainstay in Canadian theatrical metal band Thor. Aesthetically we couldn't be further from the '80s right now, yet the guy straps on the ludicrous warrior gear night after night and jumps onstage to sing his power-metal ditties. Frank Meyer of local rockers the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs has been working with Thor, giving recent material a blast of fresh air and a bit of a much-needed edge. But it's all about the live show here, and Thor never phones it in. Laugh it up if you wanna be uber-cool, but this guy is a lifer and should be celebrated. Mind you, a tour with Odin is a must. —Brett Callwood
"It doesn't matter who's in control now," Kathleen Hanna declared boldly on Bikini Kill's 1993 single "New Radio." "It doesn't matter 'cause this is new radio." Ignored by mainstream radio, the Olympia, Washington, quartet were inspired by the late-1970s punk explosion but powered by the riot grrrl movement's uncompromising ferocity about equality for women in the rock world — including in the mostly male-dominated underground. Apart from a brief 2017 appearance in which they played one song, Bikini Kill haven't played live in more than 20 years. The struggle for equality continues today, which makes the band's out-of-the-blue reunion more relevant and potentially inspiring than comebacks by other punk legends. This time around, Hanna is joined by original members Tobi Vail (drums) and Kathi Wilcox (bass) and new recruit Erica Dawn Lyle, who replaces guitarist Billy Karren. Also Friday, April 26, & Wednesday-Thursday, May 1-2. —Falling James