Los Angeles is a hotbed of live music, and L.A. Weekly is here to help you navigate this embarrassment of riches. From weekend festivals celebrating garage rock and hair metal to p-funk originator George Clinton, up-and-comer Teyana Taylor and vets Killing Joke, here are the 12 best shows in L.A. this week!
Mondo Hollywood is a two-day festival of garage rock, surf, punk and rockabilly. Deejays from Green Slime, Radiocore and Voodoo Lounge L.A. will spin a nonstop barrage of trash rock while sultry burlesque sirens from the Mondo Trash Burlesque Revue, including Vanessa Burgundy, Kira Von Sutra, V.V. Venom and Kristina Nekyia, will entice you into a state of delirious madness. Saturday is centered on psychobilly groups such as Guana Batz and pyrotechnic trio Three Bad Jacks, but things really heat up on Sunday with sets from garage-rock all-stars The Control Freaks and intensely manic punks like The Schizophonics, The Flytraps and Deadbolt. The biggest thrills, though, will be sparked by The Detroit Cobras, whose wildly charismatic and unrepentantly profane singer, Rachel Nagy, has been belting out her fiery R&B remakes with sodden, soulful passion long before Amy Winehouse made her first visit to rehab. Also Sunday, Sept. 2. —Falling James
George Clinton's most creative days might be well behind him, but with Parliament and Funkadelic, pioneers of Clinton's own p-funk style, he did more than enough to see him etched in stone as one of the most genuinely unique, groundbreaking, genre-blurring artists in music's rich history. There was truly nobody like Clinton before he started working in the mid-'50s, and there'll be nobody like him when he's gone. Part soul musician, part performance artist, part fucking astronaut, Clinton is an innovator who took the funk that he played a part in developing, with help from James Brown and Sly Stone, and treated it as ground zero. There are few better albums from any genre than '71's Maggot Brain, while in the live environment, the man still pulls out all the stops. —Brett Callwood
Def Sound, Cassandra Violet, MetronOhm
You can call Deffery Emmanuel, aka Def Sound, a rapper, but his music defies typical genre boundaries. Such songs as "Propane" are pumped up with lively beats as Def Sound croons over his inventive sound collages with an R&B coolness mixed with nimble-minded rap patter. But there is also a purposeful experimentation and artiness in stranger soundscapes like "Black Mirror," in which Emmanuel applies his perspective as a poet and DJ over stark metallic percussion and trippy sound effects to muse about both Angela Davis and Seth Curry while pointing out that "Jesus wasn't Christian." Echo Park chanteuse Cassandra Violet counters with such eerily haunting pop-folk opuses as "Beyond the Fray" and "Lady," in which she confides her enigmatic lyrics with a somberly chilling beauty before switching gears with the bubbly romanticism of the breezy pop gem "Take My Time." Plus, the soothing pop dreaminess of MetronOhm. —Falling James
THE FONDA THEATRE
Ookay is one of the freshest leaders in trap music to come out of the States. Based in San Diego, real name Abraham "Abe" Laguna has been making music for six years straight. From deejaying to producing to unleashing the most fire remixes to date, he proves there are no real barriers between EDM and hip-hop. If there are any, he'll smash them. Collaborating with Marshmello and Noah Cyrus on "Chasing Colors" is just one example of his stellar recent work. His 2016 single "Thief" is another; it received an explosive remix from Flux Pavilion. Now, following last year's explosive Wow! Cool! Tour, Ookay is back to take over the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. —Shirley Ju
RAINBOW BAR & GRILL
The Rainbow hosts these parties twice a year, events that we've cheekily rechristened Hairchella in the past. They make for great people-watching, usually while the sun beats down on the festivities. That said, this year's lineup is particularly fun. There's Sunset Strip hellraisers Warrant (albeit with their second singer since Jani Lane died), British glitter-stompers Sweet (albeit with like one original member), Van Halen tribute The Atomic Punks, theatrical heavy-metal puppet show Green Jelly, ad punchy hard rockers Little Caesar. That's a lot of party music, especially when considering the fact that entry is free (with a two-drink minimum). These Rainbow shows do a good job of resurrecting the decadent spirit of Sunset past, and Lemmy will surely approve as revelers take photos with his statue. —Brett Callwood
THE VIPER ROOM
While the Rainbow becomes sleaze-rock central on Sunday, the Viper Room offers a show to complement the proceedings. Like Little Caesar, Junkyard are one of those bands that were kicking around Hollywood in the '80s but didn't have a whole lot in common with the big hair bands. Rather, Motörhead and Twisted Sister were reference points — fast and heavy hard rock that was more interested in sledgehammer riffs than Aqua Net. It was all denim and motorbikes with these guys, and in 2018, armed with a new record deal through Acetate Records, they still kick ass live and the latest, High Water, is up there with their best. A quick trot between the Viper and the Rainbow might be in order. The Sahns and Bastard Saints also play. —Brett Callwood
Whether you know her because of her Def Jam albums VII and K.T.S.E., or because of her turns in movies such as Stomp the Yard: Homecoming, Madea's Big Happy Family or, more recently, Honey: Rise Up and Dance, Teyana Taylor has had an undeniable impact on popular culture over the past few years. Every blogger, tabloid and gossip site seems intent on catching Taylor doing something paparazzi-worthy, but ultimately we're talking about a singer, actress, model and dancer who has been successful at everything she's turned her attention to. K.T.S.E. only dropped in June of this year; she took a break after her 2014 debut to focus on family and her acting. It's great that she's back in the music game, and this show at the Observatory should be fantastic. —Brett Callwood
LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK
Like his older brother Femi Kuti, singer-saxophonist Seun Kuti inherited a lot from their legendary father, Fela Kuti. Both sons were schooled in the funky rhythmic intricacies of their dad's tight Afrobeat music, but they also developed their consciences to incorporate Fela's political activism and outspokenness in their own music. Seun also carries on the tradition of Fela's old band Egypt 80, which features many of the same musicians who toured with Fela — and who also had to struggle against the harassment and corrupt practices of Nigeria's military and police, which did everything they could to censor Fela's music. Seun Kuti shares with Bob Marley the ability to create madly intoxicating music that's simultaneously joyful and energetic even as it's layered with inspirational messages of freedom. This show is presented by Zebulon, where it was originally scheduled to be. —Falling James
THE THEATRE AT ACE HOTEL
"Take a hit, shoot me down, shoot me down," Bishop Briggs intones like a mantra on "White Flag," from her debut album, Church of Scars. "Playing dead, I'll never do," she promises, and the lyric isn't a typical pop-star boast, as the British-American singer makes the simple act of singing a song feel like an act of rebellion. While the arrangements on Church of Scars occasionally veer into mainstream-pop artifice, the restless, ambitious spirit of Bishop Briggs, née Sarah Grace McLaughlin, balances out the producers' more commercial instincts. Unlike many modern pop divas, Briggs doesn't need a small army of professional songwriters to smooth out the edges of her music — she wrote the entire album on her own. That trust in her own vision fuels the intensity of "Hallowed Ground," a gospel-tinged anthem that's both reverential and provocative. —Falling James
THE REGENT THEATER
British band Killing Joke have been around for so long now, and broken so many boundaries, that they've gone full circle from post-punk and back again, taking in industrial rock, goth and just about everything else in between. Jaz Coleman remains one of the best and most mysterious frontmen that rock & roll has ever offered, and that's saying a hell of a lot. Every single album that Killing Joke released in the 1980s was tremendous, and the eight that they put out after that have also been worth a listen. At the end of the day, when Coleman is crooning and whooping on it, with talent like Geordie Walker and Youth backing him up, it's at least going to be interesting. The band has a bit of a reputation for canceling tours/shows, so keep your fingers crossed that we'll get to bask in their glory this time. —Brett Callwood
As the writer of such poetry collections as Said the Shotgun to the Head and provocative albums like The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! and Volcanic Sunlight, Saul Williams has always been unafraid of using his rich flow of words to raise big questions rather than paint pretty portraits. The singer-poet-rapper isn't just a high-level wordsmith who boldly raises issues of race and power; he's also a mellifluous musician who weaves his lyrics into ever-changing, adventurous sonic tapestries, both on his own recordings and in his widely varied collaborations with Janelle Monáe, Nine Inch Nails, A Tribe Called Red, Sage Francis, John Cale, Lyrics Born and Zack de la Rocha. Tonight, this wise soothsayer-prophet transplants his words from NGH WHT (The Dead Emcee Scrolls), a collaboration with composer Thomas Kessler, into new settings framed by chamber group The Mivos Quartet. —Falling James
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The FONDA THEATRE
Phoenix have had a couple of triumphant Los Angeles shows celebrating their latest, well-received full-length, Ti Amo, headlining the Hollywood Bowl last summer and headlining Shawn White's Air + Style Festival this past March. The much-loved French foursome return, this time for a five-night residency at the Fonda Theatre (Sept. 6-7 and 10-12). These are not your run-of-the-mill gigs, however, as Phoenix promise to make it "Speciale" with their personal unique touches. Among these are gelato flavors concocted by the group, Delicious Pizza, Phoenix sake and Italian cocktails, Phoenix's own vending machine and limited-edition merchandise. These residencies have worked well for the group, which did similar runs in their native Paris in May and in Brooklyn in July. Considering Phoenix are Los Angeles' adopted French sons, and seeing them in a venue this size is a super-bonus, it will be special indeed. —Lily Moayeri