The Black Lips: See Thursday.
The Black Lips: See Thursday.
Photo by Daniel Arnold

The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Week

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

Monday, March 17

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Turin Brakes
South West London's Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian weigh the tenor of the times with the conflicted emotional terrain of Turin Brakes' recent We Were Here. There's a sprightly dourness dropped onto the rolling grandeur of the songs, which are graced with a pastoral luxuriance redolent of the pop- and prog-rock of the 1970s. (An extra special bonus is the great drumming and harmony vocals of High Llamas' Rob Allum and longtime bassist Eddie Myer.) While We Were Here sweeps and soars, a chin-scratching soberness runs through it all, with weighty lyrical themes such as the rape of the economy by swinish bankers and thieving pension-fund managers giving the close listener a wee bit to think about - and tap a toe to, of course. - John Payne

Tuesday, March 18

Apart from a couple of Coachella appearances and a 2005 concert at the Greek Theatre, Kraftwerk haven't played much in Southern California during the past decade. That's about to change in a dramatic fashion over the course of four action-packed nights at Disney Hall. Aptly calling this series of 3-D shows "The Catalogue," the longtime German electronic wizards will perform their most popular works, playing two full-length albums at separate sets each night, starting tonight with Autobahn and Radio-Activity. It should go without saying that Ralf Hütter and gang have been a massive influence on electronic music, synth-pop, post-punk and hip-hop with their coolly arty synth textures, robotic vocals and fondness for multimedia spectacle. The major drawback is that Hütter is Kraftwerk's only remaining founding member, following the departure of Florian Schneider in 2008. Also Wednesday-Friday, March 19-21. (For more on Kraftwerk's influence, see Bizarre Ride, page XX.) - Falling James

Sam Roberts Band
Sam Roberts is a superstar and his band a household name in their native Canada - if not yet across the border. Five albums strong, the group's latest effort, Lo-Fantasy, was produced by Youth, known for synth experimentation and dub electronics, but who knew enough to tap into Sam Roberts Band's strongest suit: playing live. Lo-Fantasy was recorded live in Roberts' hometown of Montreal and tampered with at Youth's El Mirador Studios in Spain, the results of which are included in the bonus version of the album in the form of remixes. Lo-Fantasy draws from the British sounds of the '80s: think the bite of The Clash ("Angola") with the smoothness of Tears For Fears ("Hands of Love"), but updated with more recent releases, like jangly, Johnny Marr guitar rock sans the Smiths ("Shapeshifters"). - Lily Moayeri

Wednesday, March 19

Frank Strazzeri
One of our few surviving participants in (and witnesses to) genuine, fine, mid - 20th century jazz, pianist Frank Strazzeri, who's nearly 84, is a musical shaman of formidable capabilities. An artist who, despite his fealty to bop, doesn't shy away from a melody, Strazz also has a tremendous urge toward funk tendencies. He keeps things nicely chilled, even as he delivers a strong undercurrent of communicative warmth. With an eye-popping resume that began when he was a 20-something house pianist at an East Coast jazz joint accompanying the likes of Billie Holiday and trumpet titan Roy Eldridge, his head was further enhanced by a trad New Orleans stint, roadwork in Woody Herman's Thundering Herd and, after heading west to L.A. circa 1960, a long stint with Chet Baker, among many others. At this point it's a real privilege to get an earful from such a cat, so don't squander this opportunity. - Jonny Whiteside

Thursday, March 20

The Black Lips
Few modern garage-rock groups have succeeded as wildly as The Black Lips have in recent years. When they started in Atlanta in 1999, they were considered more of a joke than an actual band, and they were initially more famous for onstage stunts (nudity, pissing, lighting things on fire) than for their music. Eventually, however, something quite unusual came out of the haze of distortion and feedback the group wrapped itself in, almost protectively - melodies and song structures. Not only was the anti-hurricane anthem "O Katrina" undeniably catchy but it also revealed that the Lips actually had something of a soul and conscience underneath it all. Refreshingly, the band has recently toured unexpected places such as Iraq in an attempt to prove that their love of fuzzed-out guitars and oceans of reverb crosses all borders, physical and otherwise. - Falling James

Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar!

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