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Friday, September 12

Campout X
Alt-rock bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker say goodbye to summer with the 10th edition of their annual Mojave Desert blowout, Campout. On Friday, sarcastic Santa Cruz merrymakers Camper Van Beethoven headline, uncorking tunes from their latest album, El Camino Real, a sort of musical travelogue through Southern California and Baja and a sunny counterpart to their 2013 ode to Northern California, La Costa Perdida. On Saturday night, following a set by Kyuss kingpin Brant Bjork, CVB lead singer David Lowery reconvenes Cracker with his longtime musical partner, Johnny Hickman, previewing songs from their upcoming album, Berkeley to Bakersfield. They’ll be accompanied by Cracker’s original rhythm section, Davey Faragher and Michael Urbano, and likely will revisit selections from their 1993 CD, Kerosene Hat, which was recorded in Pioneertown long before the area became hip. Also Saturday, Sept. 13. —Falling James


Walter Smith III
The saxophonist’s new album is titled Still Casual, his fourth and a thrice-removed follow-up to his debut, Casually Introducing Walter Smith III. Smith is the epitome of casual-cool; anyone who has heard him in person knows they cannot be as cool as he is without trying too hard. But the easy fire out of his horn and the cyclical momentum of his compositions are impossible to casually absorb. It’s a mere formality before Smith is casually mentioned in the same breath as other modern saxophone greats like Joshua Redman, Chris Potter and Mark Turner. Still Casual features jazz exemplars Taylor Eigsti (piano), Matt Stevens (guitar), Harish Raghavan (bass) and Kendrick Scott (drums). Most of that band will be at the Blue Whale, with pianist Fabian Almazan and drummer Eric Harland as the overly capable subs. Also Saturday, Sept. 13. —Gary Fukushima

Saturday, September 13

Mad Decent Block Party
As the brightness of Diplo’s star continues to eclipse his contemporaries’, so does the popularity of his roving summertime ragefest, the Mad Decent Block Party. Now in its seventh year, the number of cities hosting the Block Party has grown exponentially, including stops in South Africa in early 2014. For the event in his sometime hometown of Los Angeles, Diplo provides a nicely eclectic lineup, heavy on the Northern European talent. STRFKR brings dance-pop songs that actually provide something to look at as well as dance to; Laidback Luke pumps his crowd-friendly jams; and Cashmere Cat, a popular remixer for the Top 40 set, brings his soul-centric electronics. The biggest draw is Mad Decent head honcho Diplo, who casually dictates the course of EDM seemingly without giving it too much thought. —Lily Moayeri

Owen Pallett
Since he first picked up a violin when other kids were learning to speak, music has encompassed Owen Pallett’s life. He has famously worked with bands as far across the musical spectrum as Arcade Fire and Linkin Park, and has become known for an experimental sound that blends classical with indie pop and art rock. He has enjoyed critical success both as a film composer and a solo artist, winning an Academy Award (for his work scoring Her with Arcade Fire) and the Polaris Music Prize (for his 2006 album, He Poos Clouds). On his fourth full-length, the acclaimed In Conflict, released in May, the 35-year-old showcases a different type of baroque pop, demonstrating his prowess as not only a technically sound musician but also an artist always willing to push the limits of his sound. —Daniel Kohn


Porter Robinson
The 22-year-old EDM wunderkind and Skrillex protégé sounds eager to grow up on his just-released debut album, Worlds, mostly eschewing uptempo BPMs and vertiginous bass drops in favor of pretty, Passion Pit–like synth-pop. In a similar vein, Robinson has promised a “more sensitive experience” on this headlining tour, for which he’ll be operating samplers and MIDI controllers and even doing some live vocals, rather than delivering a more conventional DJ set. Still, the tour press release trumpets “480 streamer tubes, 1,600 pounds of confetti and 15 50-pound tanks of CO2,” so it’s not like he’s turning his back on his rave roots. New anthems such as the killer J-pop–meets–Daft Punk “Flicker,” alongside older bangers “Language” and “Say My Name,” should give Robinson and his fans plenty of confetti-worthy moments. —Andy Hermann

The Aquadolls
Fifteen years ago, garage rock was the embarrassing stepchild of rock & roll, and its modern practitioners often were considered willfully archaic, clueless dorks stuck in a retro-’60s Neverland. But groups such as The Hives, The Detroit Cobras and The White Stripes, as well as reunited originators like The Sonics, have given the genre a long-overdue shot of respectability, and suddenly there’s a horde of new garage revivalists who are actually being taken seriously. The Aquadolls are the latest glimmering pop hope from prolific local label Burger Records, with singer-guitarist Melissa Brooks and her band of “perma-teenage mermaids” crafting lovingly wistful garage-pop melodies sprinkled with surf-guitar riffs. Best Coast are an obvious reference point, but Brooks adds enough of her own lovelorn insights to stand out on the increasingly crowded pop-garage-punk shoreline. ?—Falling James

Sunday, September 14

Tribute to Lynwood Slim
Expect a tidal surge of deep, heartfelt blues at this tribute to the local harmonica paragon Lynwood Slim, who died after suffering a stroke a few weeks back. Featuring a slew of pals and first-rate blues busters, including veteran Texas funk ruler King Cotton, a certifiable wild man who has been flipping wigs since he fronted get-around Texas rock band Navasota in 1969; the soulful fretwork of Rick Holmstrom, who stays pretty busy as Mavis Staples’ bandleader; reliably righteous honky-tonk idol James Intveld; the formidable, hard-swinging LBC blues shamans Mighty Mojo Prophets; plus the very able likes of Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher, Junior Watson and many others. Nonstop, wall-to-wall, bittersweet but beautiful music. —Jonny Whiteside

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