Star & Dagger -- See Saturday
Star & Dagger -- See Saturday
Photo courtesy of Star & Dagger

The Best Concerts to See In L.A. This Weekend

Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar

Friday, August 9

The Standells


Although it's easy to erroneously associate savage, stomping garage-rock innovators The Standells with Boston (thanks to their 1966 hit "Dirty Water"), make no mistake, these guys were puro Los Angeles, a shaggy gaggle of take-no-prisoners, rock & roll beasts who, via an engagement as house band at Sunset Boulevard club PJ's, established themselves as one of the town's earliest, key big-beat insurgents. Bearing a set list studded with eager, epochal, overstimulated classics -- the sublimely sneering realism of their much-covered "Good Guys Don't Wear White," the hopped-up war cry of "Riot on the Sunset Strip," the erotomaniacal allure of "Try It" -- The Standells always traded in a penetrating mix of biting proto-punk and a liberated, high-altitude approach that's relentlessly arresting. With the co-billed presence of Love alumnus Johnny Echols, this rates as a homegrown rock & roll summit of mind-altering proportions. --Jonny Whiteside



The evolution of Foals could be attributed as much to the producers with whom they work as to themselves. On their third album, Holy Fire, the group's art/math rock ethos is maintained. Helped by producers Alan Moulder and Flood, however, Foals have moved away from the glitchy dance/punk of earlier works toward a more clearly defined and grander-sounding song structure. This might prove a disappointment for some of the group's audience, but for the mainstream ear, it makes Foals into indie rock contenders in the vein of Hot Chip, who get a nod in Holy Fire's bouncing "My Number." Pop is polished to a shiny veneer on "Milk and Black Spiders" while Yannis Philippakis' vocals catch on the heart-tugging "Stepson." This is all to say that Foals should prepare for their soon-to-be-reached arena rock star status. --Lily Moayeri

Willie Nelson & Family, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band


It's easy to take Willie Nelson for granted. He tours here often in his biodiesel-fueled bus, and he puts out at least one album a year, in seemingly every genre including reggae. (While he still hasn't done a real punk-rock LP yet, he obviously has it in him.) Nelson has worked with everyone from country legends Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard to more unexpected collaborators, such as Don Cherry, Wynton Marsalis, The Beach Boys and Snoop Dogg, but he's usually backed by his own tight-knit band of family and friends, including sister Bobbie Nelson and veteran drummer Paul English. Willie might be more ubiquitous than mysterious, but his familiar croon, deft guitar plucking and easygoing songwriting remain simply eternal. Tonight, Nelson revives Stardust, his landmark 1978 collection of jazz and pop standards, with a full-length performance fleshed out by celebrated arranger David Campbell (Beck's dad), who'll rein in the sometimes-unruly Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, following an opening set by Lyle Lovett. Also Saturday, Aug. 10. --Falling James

Grizzly Bear


When this fresh-faced quartet aren't busy with their home lives, they're working to move listeners into another dimension via their unconventional indie pop lullabies. Grizzly Bear toes the Pink Floyd line in terms of sonic complexity while coloring the sounds with an ethos evocative of Radiohead. It's a style that basically puts them in the cross-section of the folk/psych rock Venn diagram. Currently on tour in support of their 2012 release, Shields, the band performs tonight at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which means their angelic harmonies won't be the only reason you might think you're in heaven. With Shields, the band is finally minimizing the polite distance they kept with previous records and exposing a rawer style that reveals their multifaceted talent. The Brooklyn-based foursome make music that is simultaneously moody and inspiring, indie for the true connoisseur. With spectrum-spanning duo Regal Degal opening, this is sure to be an unforgettable summer night. --Britt Witt

Saturday, August 10

The National


On their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, mope-rockers The National take being miserable to a whole other level, and bring a bunch of super-guests to the depths of sadness along with them. Produced by The National's own Aaron and Bryce Dessner, the sheer star power of collaborators St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, Sufjan Stevens, Doveman, Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry and Dark Dark Dark's Nona Marie Invie threaten to take the attention away from the group whose name is on the album. Vocalist Matt Berninger's rumbling baritone, however, reminds listeners who's in charge as he does his introspective literary thing all over Trouble Will Find Me, which has The National's signature melancholic stamp all over it. (Check opener "Demons" and the glum "Heavenfaced" for proof.) It's not all wrist-slitting, though, as "Don't Swallow the Cap" and the contrarily titled "Humiliation" put some pep into the mix. Also at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Sunday, Aug 11. --Lily Moayeri

Star & Dagger, Boots Electric


With a trifecta of talented temptresses up front (lead singer Marcy Van Hesseling, guitarist Dava She Wolf and former White Zombie bass badass Sean Yseult), New Orleans-based Star & Dagger possess the uncanny ability to charm your socks off and then groove you silly with hypnotically heavy, Sabbath-style riffs. Watching them live, it's quite easy to get lost in their onstage fervor. They don't come to L.A. too often, but when they do, they leave any club they play crushed (and fans crushing hard for more). Thankfully, they've crafted a new record, their debut full-length, Tomorrowland Blues, to keep fans satiated. It's an ominous yet giddy collection of garage-y metal gems that draw on myriad music eras (soulful '60s sonics, '70s and '80s headbangers and even shades of Yseult's pummeling '90s past). With openers Boots Electric, the snazzy ass-kickers fronted by Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal. --Lina Lecaro

White Fence


Until just a few weeks ago, there were two recent brilliant albums that were so unjustly out of print it almost caused me physical pain. (Ah, who am I kidding with that "almost"?) One was King Tuff's 2008 debut, thankfully and perfectly now back out on Burger. The other was the first White Fence LP, the lo-fi hi-fuzz debut by Tim Presley, which cracked 2010 in half with a home-taped take on '60s freakbeat and '70s DIY punk. Ever wish The Pretty Things were more like The Homosexuals? And more importantly, does that sentence make total sense to you? If so, this reissue (on Drag City's new sublabel, God?) is already whispering your name along with names like Syd Barrett, Mark E. Smith, T.V. Smith and Roky Erickson. Buy it and dissolve. --Chris Ziegler

See also: White Fence's Tim Presley Moves Retro Rock Forward

Sunday, August 11



Medicine's story entails the multiple endeavors of one of our town's (and this world's) most undeservedly unsung heroes. Brad Laner is a multi-instrumentalist/electronics wiz/pop conceptualist (he sings and cooks, too) who began bending ears as a wee shaver in local post-punk experimental/nongenre bands of the '80s such as Savage Republic, Debt of Nature and Steaming Coils, and then later on with Amnesia and his own electronic-oriented solo project, Electric Company. Laner makes stunningly original and eclectic music, which reconciles the furthest reaches of "out" sounds with melodically intricate and very hard-rocking psychedelicized pop. It's a nice balance that he hit on back in the '90s with Medicine, an act that took the noise-pop glories of My Bloody Valentine to heady heights in a series of albums that ultimately transcended their ostensibly shoegazer origins. These albums find fresh life with Medicine's just-out LP, To the Happy Few. Featuring Laner on guitar and vocals along with longtime bandmates Beth Thompson on vocals and Jim Goodall on drums, the album is a blessedly upbeat update on the band's classic rip-through-the-gauze melodic noise agenda, boasting some of the most awesome avalanches of guitar fuzz, primal dancebeats and vocal harmonies one is likely to hear this year or next ... or until the next Medicine album. --John Payne

The Coals


Like the wily, unlikely urban coyote, The Coals main man Jason Mandell is an apparently rural, instinctive creature incongruous amidst L.A.'s mechanized, sterile sprawl. In fact a native New Yorker, he doesn't just survive in this complicated, confused mess of humanity but embraces it as a backdrop to and inspiration for his utterly organic, endearingly musty folk songs. Channeling Nick Cage's country cousin, the rangy frontman leads various permutations of his capacity-five crew around this city's self-conscious coffee shops, faded bars and painfully civilized outdoor gatherings with a knowing, slightly stoned half-smile and a repertoire of romantic, musically poetic material that gnarled Nashville bards would kill for. The Coals' just-released second album, A Happy Animal, is an aptly titled 22 minutes of music made to move humans, not units. --Paul Rogers

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