Cody ChestnuTT
Cody ChestnuTT

The Best Concerts in L.A. This Weekend

Friday, January 25

Help Mike! Benefit

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There was no such thing as hardcore punk before The Middle Class' debut single, "Out of Vogue," came out in 1978. Clocking in at exactly a minute, the song was half the length of a Ramones tune, and the Santa Ana quartet played it so astonishingly fast -- Jeff Atta's clipped, disaffected vocals chanted with rapid-fire precision over brother Mike's hara-kiri guitar -- that it made other punk bands sound like sludgy boogie rockers in comparison. By the time hardcore exploded into a worldwide phenomenon a year or two later, The Middle Class had already moved on into a more adventurous art-funk direction, before breaking up in 1982. Despite a brief hiatus of nearly three decades, they were as ruthlessly heavy as ever at their reunion shows at this club two years ago, which makes the recent news that Mike Atta is undergoing cancer treatment as dispiriting as it is unexpected. Tonight's benefit is fully loaded with many of The Middle Class' early-'80s punk-legend peers -- The Adolescents, Channel 3, Agent Orange, 45 Grave, Shattered Faith, White Flag and host Alice Bag -- but the bill also encompasses creatively restless entities like The Urinals and Mike Watt, who transmute hardcore tempos and energy into minimalist, postpunk weirdness. --Falling James

Cody ChesnuTT


This Atlanta-born singer and multi-instrumentalist may be best remembered for his gutsy 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece. In that same year, ChesnuTT gained greater public visibility when an alternate version of his infectiously soulful "The Seed 2.0" featuring The Roots gained immense popularity in Europe. Despite a few quietly released projects in subsequent years, 2012's Landing on a Hundred was the first full-length from the talented musician in more than a decade. In an October interview with The Guardian, the womanizer-turned-family man explained: "I had been living in a rock & roll hideaway in L.A., having an affair with two women, and I was already married." That level of drama, explored in Landing on a Hundred, is as good a reason as any to take some time off. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Gojira with Devin Townsend Project


In the past Gojira were handpicked by Metallica and Lamb of God as support for various North American and European tours. But for the French metal outfit's own U.S. headlining tour, it's enlisted the never-disappointing Devin Townsend Project as support. With technical chops to spare, Gojira employ unusual song structures with extreme precision and progressive style. The band is hitting the Fonda in support of its fifth album and Roadrunner debut, L'Enfant Sauvage, which came out in June. Also with The Atlas Moth. --Diamond Bodine-Fischer

Saturday, January 26



Deploying copious amounts of drama in both their music and live performances, Muse summon the rock & roll spirit of acts like Led Zeppelin and Queen. The spacey alternative outfit incorporates everything from classical to metal in its songs. Really, Muse is the ratatouille of modern music, if you served ratatouille on an enormous stage with a heart-stopping light show. Guitarist Matthew Bellamy and bassist Christopher Wolstenholme use effects so thick, they create a maze of sonic pleasure, leaving the listener happily lost. The band's swarm of sound and powerful stage performance will easily fill Staples Center with explosive energy on the third and final night of this L.A. run. --Diamond Bodine-Fischer

See also: Our review of Muse at Staples Center on 1/23/13, with photos

The Bogarts


These Thousand Oaks kids appear more intrigued by the early-'90s SoCal skate-punk of their parents' record collections than anything on today's Warped Tour (or at least on the small stages). This is spritely, poppy fare full of spiked bass lines and arpeggiated guitars. Yet despite some rather wincey adolescent lyrics ("Pour your heart out on the table/Cry over spilled milk," from "Indecision"), there's sufficient grit and variety to keep them safely this side of, say, Blink-182. The Bogarts harken back to a time before American punk had even a glint of metal (let alone metalcore) and, aside from some "whoah-whoah" chant-along refrains, distance themselves from true hardcore's loutish undertones. Their live shows are chatty, self-deprecating affairs that ooze camaraderie rather than conflict -- right on point for the all-ages, booze-free Cobalt Cafe. --Paul Rogers

Susan James


Susan James wanted to do something different after finishing her fifth album, Driving Toward the Sun. She's had wild record-release parties before -- two years ago, the Topanga singer-guitarist celebrated the arrival of her previous CD, Highways, Ghosts, Hearts and Home, with performances from literally half of the local power-pop underground and alt-country aristocracy. Tonight the musical focus will be solely on James and her crafty backup band, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have other surprises in store. Tarot readers and magicians will create an air of mystery, and more magic will be conveyed by comedian Rick Overton, who, James promises, "will bend your mind like ... a spoon." Eschewing the usual nightclub setting, the singer has booked the historic and intimate Besant Lodge, whose stained-glass windows should cast a reverential, violet-tinged glow over James' new songs, such as "Wandering," in which her radiant vocals soar serenely over an appropriately sunny jingle-jangle of country-rock guitars. "I got a compass for a heart/and a pickaxe mind," she sings. "We'll follow our dreams/while the blacktop snake unwinds." --Falling James



Broadway singer Beth Curry and guitarist Brett Boyett describe their new band, Totsy, as "burlesque pop," and there's certainly a carnivalesque allure to songs like "Little White Secrets," where waltzing harpsichord figures spiral eerily over Curry's breathy confessions. Later, Boyett pushes the beat along so that a snappy number like "Boom Boom Room" evokes smoky, Prohibition-era jazz clubs. But despite touring recently with The Brian Setzer Orchestra, the local band isn't on a typical retro-swing nostalgia trip. Curry is persuasively soulful on the pop ballad "Red Balloon," in which her lovelorn voice trails off dreamily amid elegant strains of violin and candied piano tones. A dust-storm cloud rises ominously like a spaghetti Western phantom above the ticking pulse of the rootsy groove "Bad Bones," as Curry coos with conspiratorial intimacy. --Falling James

Sunday, January 27

Marcel Carmago


São Paulo native Marcel Carmago moved here at age 16 and quickly absorbed American music into his bloodstream. But though he's excellent at punk rock and neo-soul, it's Carmago's jazz guitar that earned him a touring gig with Michael Bublé. Now he returns to his roots with "The Brazil You Never Heard," which for most listeners means anything not sung by Astrud Gilberto nor having to do with girls from Ipanema or some guy yelling "goooooaaaal" for five minutes after Ronaldo scores. Carmago enlists violist/arranging wizard Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, dynamic Brazilian vocalist Kátia Moraes and a 17-piece ensemble to lead us on a comprehensive journey of Brazilian music, from pre-WWII samba to '70s and '80s pop and some of Carmago's own writing. Like those fútbol players, he makes brilliance look so easy. --Gary Fukushima

Neil Hamburger


Straight from Cardboard Box, N.M., comes America's No. 1 Funnyman, Neil Hamburger. In the past, we have emphasized that this sad comic hack is in fact the most high-larious "comedian" currently treading the boards, and the hardest-working one, too. Even as we speak, Hamburger's out there detailing his miseries in gruesomely depressing detail, in the vain hope that he'll get a chortle, perhaps a guffaw, a groan, even. Something. Anything! He oughtta cheer up: Aside from numerous recent, triumphant TV appearances, including Jimmy Kimmel Live, and playing packed houses at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a jam-packed, 10-show roll at London's Soho Theatre, his most recent album, Live at Third Man, was produced by Jack White. Here now a late-breaking tweet from Hamburger: "The aspartame in Dentyne causes rageaholic tantrums!" --John Payne

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