Thursday, November 15
H.I.M. at the Orpheum Theatre; ERYKAH BADU, THE ROOTS, TAJ MAHAL at the Wiltern; QUINCY COLEMAN, CORREATOWN, ABBY TRAVIS, JONNEINE ZAPATA at Hotel Café; VOLUMEN CERO at Knitting Factory; LYDIA LUNCH at Largo; AZTLAN UNDERGROUND at the Scene; ANAVAN, CALVIN JOHNSON at the Smell; KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW at Spaceland; ANNUALS, MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA, KEVIN DEVINE at the Troubadour; BINGES at Viper Room.
Tuesday, November 20
Van Halen at Staples Center
Even though there've only been three new songs in four years and no new album since 1998’s Van Halen III… let’s face it, it’s Van Halen! They occupy a rare place in pop consciousness alongside Kraftwerk and Frank Sinatra in terms of distinction, influence and mass appeal, and the latest lineup sees chief yowler David Lee Roth return for the first time since 1984’s 1984 tour, joined by guitarist Eddie Van Halen, his brother Alex on drums and son Wolfgang on bass. And with the swaggering pride of “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love,” the righteous victory of “Unchained” and the nigh-unto godlike energy of “Panama,” after a Van Halen performance even an atheist will swear to God that flowers never smelled so sweet and that the pain from the goosebumps wracking his body are blissful transcendence. Yeah, yeah — I know what you’re saying to yourself: “C’mon, Dave, gimme a break!” One break… comin’ up! (David Cotner)
Diana Ross at Gibson Amphitheatre
When I hear old Supremes songs like “Love Child” and “Reflections,” it reminds me of my mom driving us kids to school in the early ’70s, with the urgency and passion of Diana Ross’ pleadings becoming a soundtrack to my own worries and early romantic frustrations. Beyond all the sad and messy details behind the breakup of the original Supremes and Ross’ subsequent emergence as a solo star, there’s no denying that her silky-cool phrasing was perfectly suited to such great Holland-Dozier-Holland classics as “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and “Back in My Arms Again,” as well as later solo R&B/pop hits like “Theme From Mahogany” and “I’m Coming Out.” She’s back with an album of romantic songs, I Love You (Manhattan), which ranges from sentimental, smoothly delivered standards like Harry Nilsson’s “Remember,” Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” and Spiral Starecase’s “More Today Than Yesterday” to the overly glossy title song and misguided remakes of less-interesting crap like Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.” Miss Ross rarely performs locally, which automatically makes this stellar visitation a big event. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
MARY J. BLIGE at Nokia Theatre; SILVERCHAIR at the Wiltern; EVAN SLAMKA, JOHN GOLD, MERRICK at the Bordello; QUESTLOVE at Crash Mansion L.A.; PEACHFUZZ at El Cid; PASTILLA, MONTE NEGRO at Knitting Factory; ISIS at the Troubadour.
Roswell avengers Hangar 18Wednesday, November 21
Hangar 18 at the Airliner
“Hangar 18,” as you all remember, surely, was a song by Megadeth from their Rust in Peace album way back in 1990. It was about the famous Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where, conspiracy theorists have long believed, a UFO containing the bodies of Uranians was brought from Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Hangar 18 is now the name of a ferocious and funny trio of yobs from New York who met and got primed at Manhattan’s infamous Nuyorican Poets Café. Their new album, Sweep the Leg, is out on the swingin’ Definitive Jux label, in and of itself a kind of trademark of quality, sure, but you gotta hear how this fresh batch of bozos throws down the scurrilous scandalous atop such funky-butt beats. Did I say that right? Good stuff! (John Payne)
Queen Latifah at Royce Hall
It’s been a reassuring year for folks who’ve worried that Queen Latifah’s work as an actor has caused her to put her musical career on the back burner: First she brought down the house as Motormouth Maybelle in the big-screen version of Hairspray, then in September she released Trav’lin’ Light, her debut for Verve and the big-band follow-up to 2004’s The Dana Owens Album. Though producers Tommy LiPuma and Ron Fair surround Latifah’s supple vocals with consistently sumptuous hotel-jazz arrangements, Light isn’t without its missteps: I’m not sure anyone on Earth is capable of doing a version of “I’m Not in Love” worth hearing at this point. But missteps aren’t what you’ll get tonight, when Latifah performs material from the album backed by a sizable ensemble. Onstage as onscreen, she’s a charmer through and through. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday:
TRAVIS, MAXIMO PARK at the Wiltern; CORREATOWN, PITY PARTY, MERRICK at the Bordello; SUICIDAL TENDENCIES at House of Blues.