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Monday, November 24
HOUSE OF BLUES SUNSET STRIP
Despite his nom de guerre, there’s nothing common about Common, aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn. He might star in Hollywood movies, work with Kanye and even get invited to read his poetry in the White House (unwittingly stirring up a tempest in a teapot in the process), but none of that makes a difference on his 10th album, Nobody’s Smiling. All of Common’s fame, fortune and clout can’t change the numbing reality of seemingly endless poverty and violence in his Chicago hometown. “A cold world, that’s why we pack heaters,” he declaims. “My world ain’t worldly/Anytime could be my time.” He worries about the future, and his son: “I don’t want my waves following him, the streets swallowing him.” Common samples Curtis Mayfield for soulful emphasis on “The Neighborhood” but is left with no easy solutions. — Falling James
Tuesday, November 25
THE FONDA THEATRE
As Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in L.A. winds down, Memphis rapper Juicy J will be using this one-off concert to showcase material from his soon-to-be-released fourth solo effort, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues. The founding member of the Academy Award–winning Memphis collective Three 6 Mafia released “Low” back in August, which surprised even the most ardent of fans. Featuring Nicki Minaj, Lil Bibby and Young Thug, the single confirmed the rapper’s gradual embrace of the mainstream. In recent years, the streetwise rapper has started popping up on Top 40 rap and pop tracks, most notably Katy Perry’s “Prism.” Nonetheless, fewer rappers have the ability to delicately balance street cred with growing pop sensibilities quite like the 39-year-old can. — Daniel Kohn
The Nick Mancini Trio
It helps to have a famous last name, and to play the vibraphone, that rarest of traditional jazz instruments (just below flute, well above pocket-comb). But what has really driven Nick Mancini’s success is his mind-bending ability to flat-out rip on the vibes, using his custom mallets to pummel us into submission with a machine-gun barrage of awesome. How can so many notes all be the right ones? It requires an incredible facility and a fertile imagination, and Mancini has both in spades. When not locked away for hours honing his craft, Mancini is a relentless hustler, performing anywhere he can, including this trendy Venice listening room. Always the community man, Mancini is sharing the evening with Leah Zeger, whose whimsical singing and nimble fiddle-playing makes gypsy-jazz music appropriate for Westside commuting nomads. — Gary Fukushima
Wednesday, November 26
WHISKY A GO-GO
When thrash bands started speeding up heavy metal in the early 1980s, it was principally American acts (notably Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth) that popularized this reckless assault on a previously most Anglo of genres. Visionary black metallers Venom aside, one of Britain’s few retaliatory volleys was Bristol’s Onslaught, which formed in ’83 and spewed a thrash classic with The Force three years later. Although only vocalist Sy Keeler and guitarist Nige Rockett remain from the band’s heyday, this comeback quintet, reformed in the mid-aughts, has managed three surprisingly adrenalized albums characterized by ominous, crunchy guitars, frantic beats and Keeler’s husky, hardcore-ish proclamations. For their “North American Thrash Invasion” tour, which concludes at the Whisky, Onslaught has had to temporarily recruit original Anthrax singer Neil Turbin to replace Keeler, who is attending to his son’s health problems. — Paul Rogers
It probably would be enough if Todd Rundgren simply trotted out his old favorites, such as the blue-eyed soul of “Hello It’s Me” or the psychedelic pop of Nazz’s “Open My Eyes.” But the self-proclaimed Hermit of Mink Hollow has never stopped evolving over the years. His early power pop was pulled apart and stretched out into spacey prog and fusion with Utopia, and he was one of the first musicians to recognize the interactive potential of computers and videos. Apart from a side-step digression as lead singer of The New Cars in the mid-2000s, Rundgren continues to push forward. His most recent album, State, shimmers with glittery, expansively futuristic epics such as “Imagination” and “Something From Nothing,” on which he’s serenaded by an angelic Rachel Haden. — Falling James
Thursday, November 27
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Andy C, easily the planet’s most popular drum ’n’ bass DJ, established RAM Records more than two decades ago, at the age of 16. This summer, RAM Drum & Bass USA, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 were released in succession. Each an hour in length, the compilations give a comprehensive overview of the high-quality drum ’n’ bass label. Slotting classic cuts next to ones released in the last couple of years, the collections swing back and forth through RAM’s history. From Mind Vortex’s soft and funky “Now It’s Time” and Hamilton’s melodic and sweet “Echoes” to the upfront “Timewarp” from Sub Focus, the chainsaw bassline of Wilkinson’s “Moonwalker,” the beefy textures of Noisia’s “Façade” and the rolling “Thunderball” from Moving Fusion, RAM’s staying power is apparent. In the club, the best showcase for the label is Andy C’s unerring DJing skill. — Lily Moayeri