Funk never needs a reason to celebrate. It is celebration — the original musical holiday, the Grand Palooza, if you will. Funk encourages us to forget Uncle Sam and his wars, to abandon petty distinctions like skin color and sexual orientation, to embrace each other under the groove and get fucking weird. The man most responsible for planting funk's freak flag is the legendary George Clinton, who appears here at the head of the aural army that is Parliament Funkadelic. There was a time when those were two different bands — the former roughed up by heavy psych-rock, the latter anchored by smooth R&B — but today it's one big, cross-pollinated pileup of expert musicianship, wild costumes and relentless rhythm. To celebrate his birthday, Clinton just dropped a mixtape of rarities dubbed Baby Makers. At 70, the man is still bringing new generations of funk fans into the world. —Chris Martins
Strange Boys, The Coathangers
Just back from South by Southwest and suffering withdrawal from a lack of booze-sponsored indie-rock shows? Here's some hometown hair of the dog: a Friday-night quadruple bill brought to you by the alt-inclined rum-makers at Sailor Jerry, who'll let you into Los Globos gratis in exchange for your precious email address. The Strange Boys, from Austin, headline with their catchy-scruffy roots-punk jams, but be sure to show up early for the Coathangers, an amped-up Atlanta girl group that feels something like a female Black Lips. On last year's Larceny & Old Lace, they make good on titles such as "Hurricane" and "Trailer Park Boneyard." With White Mystery, brother-sister trash-rockers from Chicago, and L.A.'s Wounded Lion, who've got an upcoming 7-inch in Matador's single-of-the-month series. —Mikael Wood
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
The Flash Express ride again! Or maybe they've been riding all this time, leaving big, steaming tire marks on the pavement and waking up the neighbors from Canoga Park to Kalamazoo. Like The Dogs and The Up before them, L.A.'s too-rarely-gigging Flash Express are the kind of band every city needs: proto-punk with plenty of punk and even more proto-ness, ably demonstrated every time guitarist-singer Brian Waters bent over to shout a chorus into the pickups on his Telecaster. These guys were and are soul 'n' roll primitives, extensively schooled in the history and application of amplified attitude. Half their songs were about how cool it was to be in the Flash Express, and that wasn't even bragging. It was just reportage. It's Motor City–style heavy music at its loudest and proudest. —Chris Ziegler
Black Spring Festival
Black is the theme at this second annual showcase of a diverse array of L.A.-area musicians. Low-fi rockers Black Love, whose vocalist (and frequent Weekly contributor) David Cotner is producing the event, are standouts. The trio offers a rare blend of minimalist rock, meshing funky rhythms and a touch of reggae; and Cotner plays instruments ranging from the Tibetan bell to the toy piano. Huntington Beach's Black Sea imbue dreamy melodies into their low-fi, echo-y sound. Atmospheric metal band Black Mare's music is lush and haunting, with crunching guitars and ethereal vocals. Suburban-bred grindcore duo Black Sheep Wall, hailing all the way from Moorpark, erupt with heavy guitar rifts and grunting vocals. —Elano Pizzicarola
FRANCES-MARIE UITTI at REDCAT; HOWLER at the Echo; MAGNETIC FIELDS at the Orpheum; LORI MCKENNA at McCabe's.
Allen Stone, A B & the Sea
With his messy shock of blond hair and thick, plastic-rimmed glasses, Allen Stone doesn't look like anybody's definition of a soul singer, but that makes hearing his voice for the first time all the sweeter an experience. The Washington-born 24-year-old grew up singing in his father's church and later worshipped at the houses of Marvin and Aretha, arriving at a style that feels both confessional and built for stadiums. His self-released, self-titled second album managed to climb the charts and secure him a spot on Conan. While Stone's style incorporates a dash of pop breeziness, he's the real deal and, at the very least, a rock-solid stand-in while we await D'Angelo's return. Openers A B & the Sea are a different beast entirely — earnest and soulful, sure, but specializing in sunny, beach-baked pop that sparkles and glistens like the Pacific itself. —Chris Martins
California E.A.R. Unit
In its clanking evolution out of the academy and onto the dance floors, electronic music got a jolt with Morton Subotnick's 1967 Silver Apples of the Moon. Not just an arhythmical series of bleeps, squawks, whizzes and whirrs (though it does some of that quite nicely, too), Subotnick's piece was relatively listener-friendly, charting oddly beautiful new sound spheres with thick, rich textures. It was electronic music "experimenting" with its potential emotional impact. Promising a night of "spontaneous performance and decision making" with the aid of longtime collaborators California E.A.R. Unit, Subotnick will update portions of Silver Apple's original Buchla analog synth creations on his new digitally enhanced Buchla 200e, along with selections from his 1977 A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur. —John Payne
Pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Darek Oles, drummer Peter Erskine and saxophonist Bob Mintzer make up this acronymic ensemble, their vocations all beginning with explosive introductions to the music world: Pasqua with Tony Williams, Erskine with Stan Kenton, Mintzer with Art Blakey, Oles with Brad Mehldau. Other associations include Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius, Lee Konitz, Allan Holdsworth and the Yellowjackets. Extremely fiery players in their youth, these four have matured like a fine wine, mellower but increasingly exquisite, as evidenced by their latest project, Standards 2, Movie Music. Still recording a ton, sounding as good as ever, all of them have cushy professorships at USC, which means they should write the textbook on how to have a successful career playing jazz. —Gary Fukushima
THE VIPER ROOM
"Sometimes life is a bit rough/Vodka's not cold enough/You can cry it away," Ilya Lagutenko croons, almost sympathetically. "See whose land is on fire?/Not yours, not mine." The Mumiy Troll singer might know a thing or two about life's ups and downs. When the shadowy post-punk band formed in the then–Soviet Union's far eastern city of Vladivostok in 1983, they were practically treated like enemies of the state. Fast-forward a few decades and they're considered Russian national heroes. As ever, Lagutenko's darkly witty lyrics are wrapped up in a swanky Roxy Music glitter and crowned with Yuri Tsaler's insidiously searing guitar figures. "Sing along, God dammit," Lagutenko urges. "How do you like it? What a planet!" —Falling James
LIZZ WRIGHT at Broad Stage; OFF! at Galaxy Theatre; MICHAEL LANDAU TRIO at the Baked Potato; IMPERIAL TEEN at Satellite.
EL REY THEATRE
Pascal Arbez-Nicolas, known in dance-music circles as Vitalic, is the man with the electro-disco hits. His early-'00s hit, "La Rock 01," kept dance floors packed for years with its frenetic synth lines and raucous rhythm. Not long after that, he unleashed "My Friend Dario," the closest thing you'll ever hear to a completely synthesized rock & roll jam. More recently, he has delved into disco, creating futuristic jams for late-'70s nightclubs that never existed and turning Jean Michel Jarre's seminal electronic track "La Cage" into a slick groove for the after-midnight crowd. Saturday night's gig is touted as a DJ gig. While you probably won't hear a live rendition of "My Friend Dario," you'll certainly get a glimpse into the records that inform Vitalic's sci-fi electro disco. —Liz Ohanesian
Family of the Year
The video for recent single "St. Croix" has Family of the Year all posed up as the Beach Boys circa "Barbara Ann" (striped shirts and all), but there's more than a little post–Pet Sounds Wilsoniana hiding in this L.A. indie band. Singer-songwriter Joe Keefe and bros (including bio bro Sebastian) easily slice through the sort of indie pop Vampire Weekend, et al., thrust upon the charts, but little nonsingle gems like "Living on Love" (with the revelatory lyrical addendum " ... and libations!") and "Chugjug" and 2010's adorable "Stupidland" reveal a band that has studied the immortal chord changes of something like Sunflower's "Whole Wide World." If there's an off-center California pop sound for the here and now, this is probably what it sounds like. —Chris Ziegler
GOOD OLD WAR, BELLE BRIGADE at Avalon; DIONNE WARWICK at the Grammy Museum.
NO., Young Hunting
Not to be confused with the pop-rockers touring with the Strokes, NO. is the Echo Park–based band of baritone crooner Bradley Hana Carter, a former punk kid whose buzzing new project is tinted with the kind of darkness we've come to love and expect from the National. It's anthemic stuff, roughed up but pro-sounding, black and romantic. Co-founder and bassist Sean Daniel Stenz is one of the guys behind Origami Vinyl (one of the best-curated vinyl outposts in town), so it should be no surprise that NO.'s debut EP, Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever, sounds like something rock aficionados will be spinning for months to come. Though they have but a precious four recorded songs to their name, local openers Young Hunting have a lot to offer, with dreamy harmonies, woozy atmosphere, yearning sentiment and sun-dappled strumming. —Chris Martins
NICOLAS JAAR at the Echoplex; LES HOOPER BIG BAND at Typhoon.
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
It has been more than two decades since pianist Keith Jarrett last performed a solo concert in Los Angeles. Tonight's show should actually be worth the considerable wait, and is one of only three solo performances Jarrett has scheduled for North America in 2012. While Jarrett's sometimes mercurial stage presence is overly documented, his October trio appearance at Royce Hall included friendly commentary to the audience at the outset. Jarrett's latest, Rio, features a set of solo improvisations, and tonight's L.A. Phil–sponsored performance will follow the same formula. His recordings over the past three decades have largely defined the best in jazz piano, and have included some of the best-selling jazz albums of this era. Show up early — no late seating will be offered once the program begins. —Tom Meek
XXL Freshmen Live
Last fall the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour featured a bill of punishing extreme-metal bands, topped by Of Mice & Men and Iwrestledabearonce. This year the neon-green beverage firm has teamed with XXL to present somewhat lighter-hearted performances by members of the hip-hop magazine's so-called Freshman Classes, including the latest crop, with Machine Gun Kelly, Danny Brown, Roscoe Dash and Iggy Azalea, among others. Previously anointed MCs headline each show; here in L.A. we'll get Big Sean, which seems like something of a disappointment, given the fact that dude was just here last month with Trey Songz. (San Francisco gets the much more exciting Kendrick Lamar.) At press time only L.A.-based Kid Ink had been confirmed to represent the young'uns, but more appearances seem likely. —Mikael Wood
TELEPATHE, TEARIST, DUOLOGUE at the Echo; WHITE ARROWS, KRADDY at the Roxy.
Ken Parker, Fully Fullwood Band
The first local show by renowned Jamaican rock-steady spearhead Ken Parker is a big, fat, groovy deal. The Sam Cooke–influenced crooner is prized for his sweet, persuasive approach, but Parker's style is strong enough to take complete control; when he covered familiar American hits like "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "Help Me Make It Through the Night," he owned them. Parker's dreamy atmospherics, a mix of emotional intensity and coolly understated delivery, are compelling enough, but the fact that he's backed by legendary bassist Fully Fullwood's Band (aka Soul Syndicate) is the stunner. Fully, guitarist Tony Chin and drummer Santa Davis are some of the best, hardest reggae players alive, and with the possibility of dub alchemist Scientist grabbing the controls, this is a certifiable mind-blower. —Jonny Whiteside
MICHELE COLTRANE at PIPS; WHITE RABBITS, GULL at El Rey Theatre; 6BLOCC, ELOS, SATELLITES at the Airliner.
Mr. Gnome demonstrated their mastery in conjuring massive sonic storms on their most recent album, Madness in Miniature, with singer-guitarist Nicole Barille's serrated riffs pummeled into oblivion by drummer Sam Meister. But the Cleveland duo also has a contrastingly delicate and arty side on aptly titled new single "Softly Mad." On gauzy soundscape "The Way," Barille indeed goes softly mad, with chillingly ghostly vocals layered with spidery veins of sparkling guitar. Like Wye Oak drummer Andy Stack, Meister is able to hold down the beat while simultaneously issuing atmospheric sheets of shimmering keyboards with his free hand. As with everything else Mr. Gnome does, the combination of influences — light and darkness, noise and beauty — is peculiar and mesmerizing, and quite unlike the music of anybody else in America today. —Falling James
Though it's always been an on-again, off-again outfit (with guitarist John Reis being in Rocket From the Crypt and band members often residing in different cities), Hot Snakes seem able to shame full-time acts at will. These San Diegans sound like they're more about making music than making money. With very DIY production and an irreverent, garage-y approach to post-hardcore songwriting, their mainstream appeal is limited, but they also earn big cred. To listen to Hot Snakes is to picture four blokes in a room thoughtfully bashing their instruments. The beats are primal and loose, the guitars are tunefully abrasive and patiently insistent, and Rick Froberg's detached yap is knowing yet past caring. With post-hardcore largely bastardized into metallic mutations, Hot Snakes are an organic echo of a once wonderful idea. —Paul Rogers
Ute Lemper & the Vogler Quartet
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!
Life is much more than a cabaret when Ute Lemper comes to town. Her new album is titled Paris Days, Berlin Nights, but she also flies down to Argentina with interpretations of tangos by Astor Piazzolla. The German chanteuse alternates between a seductive purr and brassy declamations as she wends her way through standards by Jacques Brel, Chava Albertstein, Edith Piaf and her longtime standby, Kurt Weill. The Vogler Quartet, a Berlin string ensemble, and arranger-pianist Stefan Malzew segue deftly from a jazzy bounce to a classical elegance, giving these tunes a playfully merry sophistication. For tonight's show, the singer-actor will croon in Spanish, German, French and English. Perhaps we'll get lucky and she'll throw in a few selections from her Charles Bukowski project, based on the sodden poems of the late San Pedro poet. —Falling James
TEGO CALDERON at Conga Room; ROBBEN FORD at Catalina; RAY J at Key Club; FALLING IN REVERSE, DEAD SARA, MATT TOKA at Club Nokia.