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Ronnie SpectorEXPAND
Ronnie Spector
Ruven Afanador

The 12 Best Shows in L.A. This Week

Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help you navigate this embarrassment of riches. From one of the most influential and iconic hip-hop acts of all time to a genre-spanning music group still going strong in its fifth decade, a night of '80s nostalgia and a showcase of British '80s pop stars, The Mr. T Experience and a night of freaky punk rock, here are the 12 local shows you should see this week!

fri 7/27

Wu-Tang Clan

Shrine Expo Hall

Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to fuck with! This show is to celebrate 25 years of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), one of the most iconic hip-hop albums of all time. All living, original members will be in attendance, including RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. Wu-Tang's 1993 debut album features timeless hits such as "C.R.E.A.M." and "Protect Ya Neck." Hailing from Staten Island, Wu-Tang showcased their East Coast swagger, innovative beats and clever lyrics, which would go on to change the rap game forever. They have released seven gold and platinum studio albums, with sales of more than 40 million albums on a global scale. This will be a rap show for the books. —Shirley Ju

Earth, Wind & Fire

Pacific Amphitheater

Since 1970, the Chicago-born band commonly known as EWF have been spanning genres and blurring divides while simultaneously scoring hit after hit. Maurice White formed the band back then, and he's been sadly missed since his death in 2016. Still, three of the current lineup — Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson — have been there since the early-'70s beginnings. 2013's Now, Then & Forever album was their first since 2005's Illumination, and that was followed by an album of holiday music, imaginatively titled Holiday, in 2014. In fairness, though, EWF 2018 are a legacy act and people who attend these gigs really want to hear "After the Love Has Gone" and, of course, "Boogie Wonderland." That's fine because, at the end of the day, this band's purpose is to make people dance, and they still do. —Brett Callwood

'80s Weekend

Microsoft Theatre

Nostalgia, the super-hip will tell you, is the most useless of sentiments. The truth is, though, that's a ludicrous statement, as it ignores the fact that everybody listens to music for different reasons. If, for some, the purpose is to be transported back to what might have been a happier time in their life, that's perfectly valid. Concerts like these '80s spectaculars are hella fun; they generally see a manic and varied range of musicians assemble, some of whom have been largely forgotten while others are still quite valid. Blondie and Adam Ant still tour by themselves and put out great new music, punk royalty that they are. Similarly, Soft Cell's Marc Almond has never stopped being cool. Berlin, best known for "Take My Breath Away" from the Top Gun soundtrack, haven't been quite so lucky, and neither has Thomas "She Blinded Me With Science" Dolby, but they'll undoubtedly be fun at this gig. Also Saturday, July 28. —Brett Callwood

sat 7/28

Happenings

The Broad

Even though "happenings" were an art concept popularized by Fluxus artist Allan Kaprow, it's hard to be churlish when faced with the sheer wealth of Joseph Beuys– and Fluxus-inspired work at tonight's Happenings. Chief among the strange and wonderful welter of sound bestowed unto you by the spirits of Fluxus is a live action by constitutionally brilliant German dream merchants faUSt. Will you see pinball players jamming onstage while their mesmeric and psychedelic music unfolds? Someone knitting while they perform? You just never know with faUSt. Also: the politically charged grooves of DJ Eye; Lonnie Holley and Nelson Patton reminding dead souls that they were once alive with their alchemical resonance tests; noise-in-opposition with Sigrid Lauren and Monica Mirabile as FlucT; electronica pioneers and washing machine enthusiasts Matmos; Margaret Chardiet's sonic autopsies and burials performed as Pharmakon; and the aural auras of Total Freedom. —David Cotner

Annabella Lwin

The Wiltern

Tonight's concert is billed as "Retro Futura," an oldies revue of fair-to-middling British '80s pop performers including ABC, Modern English, Kajagoogoo's Limahl and The Outfield's Tony Lewis. But the real star of the show is Annabella Lwin, the Anglo-Burmese singer who first came to attention as the precocious 13-year-old who fronted Bow Wow Wow. Lwin overcame the creepy machinations of Svengali manager Malcolm McLaren to put her own stamp on the band with her vivacious, ebullient vocals on such memorable tunes as "Sexy Eiffel Tower" and a hit remake of The Strangeloves' "I Want Candy." Lwin still sounds fiery today, but in recent years she's had to reclaim her own legacy after a former Bow Wow Wow bassist somehow finagled the rights to the band name and continues to tour (and confuse fans) with a dodgy imposter vocalist. Ain't nothing like the real thing, though. —Falling James

The Mr. T ExperienceEXPAND
The Mr. T Experience
Toni Skotcher

The Mr. T Experience, Nerf Herder, Kepi Ghoulie

The Troubadour

Author-singer Dr. Frank Portman has been fronting various lineups of The Mr. T Experience since 1985. As hardcore-punk and hair-metal trends have come and gone, Portman continued to crank out a supremely silly brand of punk and garage rock long before such styles became fashionable again. While latter-day punk moralizers were blustering with secondhand rage, Dr. Frank chose instead to celebrate pop-culture icons in such fannish tributes as "Danny Partridge" and "I'm in Love With Paula Pierce," a torrid ode to the Pandoras singer. The Mr. T Experience's most recent album, 2016's King Dork Approximately, is based on Portman's young-adult novel of the same name. The Groovy Ghoulies' Kepi Ghoulie alternates romantic folk songs with catchy, Ramones-y pop-punk anthems. Plus, Santa Barbara punks Nerf Herder. —Falling James

sun 7/29

Church of Freaks

Alex's Bar

The punk rock–abilly, freak-filled dark carnival spectacular that is the Church of Freaks is more than your average concert experience. Stunt performers, magicians and strongmen rub shoulders with burlesque dancers such as the divine Mia Morte. Of course, there are bands, in this case Bloody Death Skull and Radioactive Chicken Heads. Admit it, the names alone have you intrigued. The former play '60s girl group-inspired pop that features gloriously morbid lyrics. In a 2015 "L.A. Bands to Watch" feature, we described them as "like a children's party band in a David Lynch film," which just about covers it. Santa Ana's Radioactive Chicken Heads, meanwhile, say that they're "not your average band of poultry punks and giant mutant vegetables," which begs the question, who is? —Brett Callwood

mon 7/30

Ned & The Dirt

The Pike

The Pike in Long Beach is one of the most underrated places to see live music in the Greater L.A. area. The corner "stage" area (actually crowd level) is low-key and bands may have to work hard over the crowd noise and constant eating (the food there is great). That said, the people who there do tend to know their music (the joint is owned by former Social Distortion drummer Chris Reece), and the bands usually are given the chance to impress. Ned & the Dirt's '90s alt revival should be perfectly suited. With influences that include Nick Lowe, The Pixies and My Morning Jacket, the music is both energetic and haunting, and the L.A. band is known for gritty and honest live performances. They call it "graveyard indie rock," and that works nicely. —Brett Callwood

Taleen KaliEXPAND
Taleen Kali
Kristin Cofer

tue 7/31

Taleen Kali

The Hi Hat

"Language is a skin for disappearing in," Taleen Kali confides poetically, her voice searing like a searchlight through the fuzzy clouds of electronics and glittery atmosphere wrapped around "Evil Eye II," from her new EP, Soul Songs (Lolipop Records). The local singer, bassist and yoga teacher used to lead the band Tülips, but last year she unveiled her new solo band at Echo Park Rising. Kali's EP was produced by Kristin Kontrol (also known as Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee), and there are traces of Kontrol's shadowy pop allure in Kali's blend of riot-grrl punk and electronic dance-pop. In the video for "Bluets," Kali paints herself blue and muses moodily over ringing chords before ascending into the ether while riding atop her propulsive bass, her yearning voice unfurling grandly. —Falling James

wed 8/1

Betsy Bitch

Whisky A Go-Go

Back in the '80s, Betsy Bitch of the delicately named S&M-themed metal band Bitch gave zero fucks about other people's sensitivities. In an era of Vixens and Lita Fords, Bitch (both the band and the singer) was playing the hard-rock game entirely on her own terms. She was a badass, too, turning the tables on the hyper-sexualized nature of '80s metal and putting herself in the driving seat. Betsy Bitch was in control, and woe betide anyone who got in her way. This gig at the Whisky sees the inimitable frontwoman celebrate her birthday, as well as the 35th anniversary of the semi-classic Be My Slave album. Those are valid reasons to party with one of metal's unique characters. —Brett Callwood

thu 8/2

Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes

The Canyon Agoura Hills

Ronnie Spector's rock & roll heart has always shined brightly, even though her homicidal former producer-husband, Phil Spector, used to bury her fiery vocals in the 1960s in a syrupy glaze of glossy orchestration and layers of distancing reverb and echo. Later, her spouse kept her as a literal prisoner in his mansion in the early '70s before she finally escaped and resuscitated her long-delayed solo career. Unlike other pop singers of the '60s, Ronnie Spector embraced the spirit of punk rock on her 1999 EP, She Talks to Rainbows, which featured a duet with Joey Ramone and one of the most poignant versions of Johnny Thunders' eternally heartbreaking ballad "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory." The singer recounted much of her travails and triumphs in recent stage shows and a 1990 memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness. —Falling James

Laura Jean AndersonEXPAND
Laura Jean Anderson
Kaia D'alora

Laura Jean Anderson

Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park

"I ain't a child of your God," Laura Jean Anderson declares on her new single, "Silence Won't Help Me Now." Inspired in part by the election of Trump, the song is a bold statement of affirmation and feminist defiance by the local singer, who was raised as a devout Mormon in Olympia, Washington. As powerful as Anderson's lyrics are, the song takes on even greater emotional heft through her soaring, unrestrained vocals. In her early days as a vocalist in L.A., Anderson belted out her original songs as an avenging country-rock angel who never came across as a meek sweetheart of the rodeo. More recently, however, on such captivating romantic ballads as "Love You Most," her stylistic range encompasses indie rock and raw, unadulterated soul. This evening, Anderson croons a free set when she opens for GospelbeacH. —Falling James