Sade, John Legend
You won't find a better date night option this weekend than one of Sade's three gigs at Staples Center, where the English avant-soul siren arrives on her first world tour since 2001. Last year's platinum-selling Soldier of Love neatly demonstrated how little the weather had changed on Planet Sade since 2000's Lovers Rock; rest assured she won't blow your mind with any radical rearrangements tonight. She may blow your mind in other ways, though: Even with a generation of R&B smoothies having grown up under her influence, nobody digs more deeply into matters of the heart than this icy-hot philosopher-queen. One of those R&B smoothies, John Legend, opens the show. Also Sat. and Sun. —Mikael Wood
Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q
Yeah, we'll say it: Compton's finest is L.A.'s rawest, best lyricist. His latest album, Section.80, is more thematically cohesive than his previous work, but that's too cold an analysis for a rapper who rips his chest open in the booth. Spitting (literally) over a freebasing jazz beat or shouting out Long Beach Boulevard's never-dared-to-dream girls, Lamar didn't make the feel-good album of the summer; he made a record for those who love hip-hop but hate the rappers in it. Though Schoolboy Q will bare his teeth and growl his lyrics, he's best when he's slouching through a song, easy charm and clever punch lines rolling off his tongue. The two together are serious trouble. Expect a host of special guests — the hometown heroes have plenty of friends in high places. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Benefit for Nick Curran
It was thought that former Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Nick Curran had beaten back cancer after being diagnosed last year, but when it was announced that the disease had returned this spring, his friends decided to pitch in to raise money for his expenses. Luckily, he has some pretty talented friends, including hillbilly duo Dave & Deke, brooding rockabilly singer James Intveld and the Blasters' Phil Alvin and Bill Bateman. Curran has backed the late rockabilly legend Ronnie Dawson and also fronted his own groups, including the Lowlifes and Nick Curran & the Nitelifes, and he's been a longtime collaborator with fiery Texas rockabilly dynamo Kim Lenz, who'll provide some roots-rocking catharsis with songs like the sadly appropriate “That's the Breaks.” —Falling James
Z-Trip, De La Soul, Nosaj Thing, Daddy Kev
Local DJ/producer and professional party monster Z-Trip is bringing his traveling dance carnival back home. The cross-country tour, with dates featuring LL Cool J, Four Tet and DâM FunK, is like a discerning hip-hop mash-up come to life, with the best of old-school and innovative youngsters along for the ride. As if De La Soul wasn't enough to get your ass on the floor, mad scientist Nosaj Thing's sonic experiments conjure images of DJ Shadow on a bender with Tangerine Dream. With Low End Theory's Daddy Kev in tow, this night basically guarantees a full day of postparty recovery watching a Top Chef marathon. —Drew Fortune
The Glitch Mob, RJD2
Former Low End Theory associates The Glitch Mob are a three-man DJ crew — ediT, Ooah and Boreta — who've probably found the biggest audience of any artist to rise from the L.A. beat scene. Their “Animus Vox” got 10.5 million viewers in one sitting as a backing track on an episode of America's Got Talent. They dropped debut album Drink the Sea last June and returned a year later with EP We Can Make the World Stop and a massive tour. Since then, they were featured on this year's Tron Legacy: R3C0NF1GUR3D remix album and in a Captain America trailer, and once again hit the road on a colossal 35-city tour, stopping tonight with RJD2. —Lainna Fader
The Disney animated classic is not just a visual feast, it's also a hugely inspired collection of much of the last couple of centuries' greatest music. On a trivia note, when Igor Stravinsky was asked about using The Rite of Spring for the film, he offered to compose a new piece for Disney — which turned him down! (Stravinsky despised Leopold Stokowski's reorchestration and restructuring of his piece, but how many of the film's fans ever knew the difference?) Tonight it will be projected on the Bowl's big screens, including unfinished segments of the film, accompanied live by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, with the splendidly stylish John Mauceri conducting. And yes, there will be a fireworks display. Also Sat. and Sun. —John Payne
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE at the Greek Theatre; WOODEN SHJIPS, THE NIGHT BEATS at the Echo; THE WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. at California Plaza; BLEACHED, RAW GERONIMO at the Smell; RANDY ROGERS BAND at Troubadour; ROBBY KRIEGER, RAY MANZAREK, DAVE BROCK at Whisky A Go Go; THE LEWD, RF7 at the Redwood.
Sunset Strip Music Festival
Despite some valiant recent efforts (Hinder, Avenged Sevenfold), no band has better mastered debauchery as a brand than Mötley Crüe. That and bassist Nikki Sixx's pop-in-metal-clothing songwriting make this Sunset Strip–synonymous band utterly worthy as both SSMF headliners and honorees. [See Page Two.] Bush get beat around as Brit Nirvana-bes, but this lazy labeling insults the quality of their early tunes; sheer commitment as a live force; and a frontman (Gavin Rossdale) who still provokes mass panty-wetting. Hype-man Flavor Flav may have dragged Public Enemy's name through the reality-show mire, yet they remain a vital, vitriolic hip-hop power that will have SSMF's security earning their checks. PE's pioneering embrace of rock influences (including collaborating with Anthrax as early as 1991) makes them far from incongruous on this guitar-y bill. —Paul Rogers
Davie Allan & the Arrows
JAMMIN' JERSEY MUSIC
In the mid-1960s, most guitarists were playing guitars that had clean, tinny tones, and they picked out crude, simple solos that sound laughably stiff and wimpy today. Davie Allan was just one of a zillion local surf guitarists with a similarly polite sound when he decided one day to crank up the distortion and max out his fuzz pedal, bringing a Link Wray power to the iconic instrumental “Blues' Theme,” from the soundtrack of Roger Corman's 1966 biker film The Wild Angels. At the time, such a fuzz-saturated guitar sound was unique, and Allan went on to become a literal link between Link and the hard-rock and metal guitarists of the late '60s and early '70s. The San Fernando Valley homeboy comes full circle with an early-afternoon set at this Northridge music store. —Falling James
Rock the Bells
SAN MANUEL AMPHITHEATER
In its new incarnation as a four-city minitour, this hip-hop fan's nirvana again kicks off its summer run in San Bernardino, thankfully trading in last year's parking lot for an amphitheater. The emphasis remains on full-length renditions of '90s classics; the only change is a decade time shift. Instead of Snoop and Tribe, we've got Black Star and Common. The unquestionable draw is Nas, in full-on street-poet mentality, for his groundbreaking debut, Illmatic. The ladies also drop by: Lauryn Hill again shimmies to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (let's hope a year has improved her chops) and the Queen of Neo-Soul, Erykah Badu, will swoon to Baduizm. It's not all old-school: NOLA's Curren$y and UGK-bred Southern spitter Big K.R.I.T, best classified under “Hip- Hop's New Hope,” help carry the torch. —Dan Hyman
Mad Decent Block Party
PREMIERE EVENTS CENTER
Diplo has been making some mainstream moves this year, producing “Beat of My Drum” by Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud and scoring a writing credit (alongside The-Dream) on Beyoncé's “Run the World (Girls).” For his label Mad Decent's roving Block Party, though, he's keeping things pretty fringe-y, especially here in L.A.: In addition to a headlining set by Major Lazer, Diplo's digital-dance-hall duo with Switch, we'll get appearances by electro-garage guy Bosco Delrey, in-house Mad Decent knob-twirler Derek Allen and Sacramento-based punk-rap crew Death Grips, among others. Still, shit's free, and given Diplo's rapidly expanding Rolodex, you never know who else might show up. —Mikael Wood
Semi Precious Weapons, Sabrosa Purr
The flailing onstage antics of beyond-camp frontman Justin Tranter and bassist Cole Whittle are both the best and the worst things about Semi Precious Weapons. While their relentless gyrations have helped make SPW an act few wish to follow (though Lady Gaga was happy to on her recent Monster Ball Tour), they also can almost obscure the band's fearsome musicianship, natty knack for glam-pop hooks and Tranter's deliciously indignant timbre. Local foursome Sabrosa Purr also are about more than just songwriting. But in their case, it's Prince versus Jane's Addiction groove and mood that massage their message. With a slinky new rhythm section aboard, this is as good as it's gotten for the Purr. —Paul Rogers
BRAINFEEDER SHOWCASE at Levitt Pavillion; PHRANC, PETER CASE at California Plaza; BLACK ELEPHANT at the Smell; AMOS LEE, CALEXICO at Orpheum Theatre; CEREBELLION at Cobalt Café (Canoga Park); JAMES PANTS at Skybar; JIM KWESKIN at McCabe's.
The Punk Rock BBQ
The Punk Rock BBQ is really so much more than just a punk rock barbecue. Sure, there will be plenty of searching and destroying from the Raw Power Rangers — in which mild-mannered Insect Surfers guitarist Dave Arnson suddenly morphs into one of the wildest Iggy clones ever — and amped-up bands, like the Ingrates and the Double Negatives. But you also get glamorously rocking power pop from Three Way (with former Celebrity Skin guitarist Jason Shapiro) and the unique, poetic, snake-charmed jazz-punk soothsayers Saccharine Trust. But for my money, which is nothing, since this show has no cover, the most ragingly, rockingly, explosively ramblingest group of the day is the longtime local trio Backbiter. These guys have the technical ability to passionately re-create the entire Tommy album note for note, are deeply punk-informed by such idols as the Dead Boys and the Dictators, and yet their own songs sound like lost freedom-rock classics. Yes, classics. —Falling James
GEOFF GEIS, HEROES AND HEROINES, SNACKTIME, THE BURNING OF ROME at 5 Star Bar; JIM WARD, LUSITANIA at the Satellite.
Anyone who found James Blake a rather sedate “Face of Dubstep” contender should cotton to Katy B: On her Mercury Prize–nominated debut, On a Mission, this fresh-faced Londoner describes her boy troubles with a round-the-way sass that shares as much with U.K. girl groups, like the Sugababes, as it does with any hipster-approved dance act. That's not to suggest that Katy B's beats don't hit hard; “Perfect Stranger,” her Magnetic Man collab, has all the wobble you could want. But it's Katy's personality that may enable a connection with Rihanna fans. The singer performs here as part of a peculiar School Night! bill that also includes quirk-folk veteran Rickie Lee Jones. —Mikael Wood
ROBERT FRANCIS, JENNY O at Bootleg Theater; STONE DARLING at the Satellite; ACTIVE CHILD, WHITE SEA, CORREA-TOWN at the Echo; RUMSPRINGA, THE ROSS TEA PARTY at Silverlake Lounge; ALAN FERBER GROUP at Blue Whale.
Try. Find a chink in Taylor Swift's armor. At 21, marrying country charm and radio sensibility, Swift, who hits 19 countries on her current global hopscotch, has already amassed massive industry pull. (The Grammy winner has moved 20-plus million albums, her newest flexing first-week-million muscle.) Hell, even when she seems to fall — much like the females in her narratives — Swift eventually lands on daisies: Her failed romances with Hollywood heartbreakers (Jonas, Lautner, Mayer, Gyllenhaal) all have her cast as the victim — the same unlucky girl, heart in her throat, who watched Kanye flaunt his douche-dom at her expense. Expect Swift's hot streak to continue. Taylor's image is too valuable for alteration. As we're seeing in this case, the best-manicured ones seldom let us down. Also Wed., Sat. and Sun. —Dan Hyman
CHRIS THILE at Largo; THE ALLAH LAS, JEFFERTITTI'S NILE at the Echo; HIRAX at House of Blues (Hollywood); XU XU FANG, ALAIN JOHANNES at the Satellite.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
After a five-year hiatus, during which bassist Flea collaborated with Patti Smith and Thom Yorke, singer Anthony Kiedis became a father and guitarist John Frusciante left the band (again), Red Hot Chili Peppers are back on the scene. Gearing up to release their new album, I'm With You, later this month, the Peppers are headlining a benefit concert for Flea's music-education nonprofit, the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. With new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer reinvigorating the band with fresh energy and catchy hooks, the privileged few who snatch up tickets to this one-off gig will be in for a treat, especially since the Chili Peppers don't intend to hit the road again until next year. Plus, all bets are on that lead single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” isn't the only jammin' new tune they play. —Laura Ferreiro
OBITS, DISAPPEARS, BEATERS at the Satellite; BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB at Hollywood Bowl; SUSAN JAMES at Taix; SENECA SCRIBE, LARRY KOONSE at Blue Whale; SALLIE FORD, ELENI MANDELL, SISTER ROGERS at the Echo.
The mighty Mau5, Canadian DJ/producer Joel Zimmerman, is one of the biggest dance acts on the planet right now. A former computer geek, the rodent-headed Deadmau5 emerged from the progressive house underground to become a mainstream chart contender, headlining global festivals with one of the most visually spectacular shows in dance-music history. He's back from a killer (and seriously muddy) headlining set at Lollapalooza, where he performed on a stage made by the same geniuses behind Daft Punk's pyramid, playing four consecutive shows in L.A. on his Meoingtons Hax Tour, which features all brand-new production. —Lainna Fader
With their short, simple fuzz-poppy attack, the Ettes play music that sounds like garage rock — which shouldn't be anything new under the sun this many centuries after Mozart and Sky Saxon first invented the genre — but singer-guitarist Coco Hames' poison-pen valentines have an undeniably catchy immediacy that's more primal and eternal than merely backdated. She buries even her most sweetly beguiling melodies on the new album, Wicked Will, under a swarm of buzzing guitars, eagerly abetted by cymbal-ravishing drummer Pomi Silver and solidly throbbing bassist Jem Cohen. The Ettes can't help being groovy, whether they're folking up again on the roots-rock ramble “Teeth,” mood-swinging on the funky workout “The Pendulum” or evoking their heroine Nancy Sinatra with a cover of Lee Hazlewood's “My Baby Cried All Night Long.” —Falling James
THE BAKED POTATO
Katisse Buckingham leads a double musical life, most often as one of the area's most sought-after woodwind players. But on the last Thursday of every month, he leads his own band in a unique mix of jazz, soul, hip-hop and rap, beatboxing his way through flutes and leaving even seasoned studio veterans astonished. This show marks an increasingly rare return for singer Judith Hill, who cut her teeth here for two years before being picked by Michael Jackson for his ill-fated 2009 London shows shortly before his death. Hill was the “mystery singer” who led the final songs at the Jackson Memorial, appeared in the film This Is It and has since gone on to worldwide appearances and collaborations with artists including Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. —Tom Meek
WHITE ARROWS, GANGI at Bootleg Theater; KITTY DAISY AND LEWIS at the Satellite; NICOLE EVA ENERY, MADI DIAZ, FIREHORSE at Hotel Café; MR. VALLENATO at Skirball Cultural Center; KEVIN KANNER GROUP at Blue Whale.