Ten for 2010: Notable winter Los Angeles concerts
As the world settles back into the working grind, Pop & Hiss looks to the upcoming concert calendar to find worthwhile moments of escape. There are some expected big names coming to town throughout the winter and into early spring, with plenty of choice finds at smaller venues as well. A sampling of some of the highlights below.
Nick Jonas & the Administration. The teen pop star breaks from his family, but isn't exactly going it alone. He's backed by former members of Prince's New Power Generation, and the initial single brings a dash of suburban soul to Nick's John Mayer-inspired pop. Jan. 26, 27, 28 and 29 at the Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., $39.50-$49.50.
Yeasayer. The adventurous Brooklyn-based outfit has a psychedelic bent and an expansive view of the pop landscape. Rural beats, electronic fiddling and guitar noodling are all given equal placement. Sophomore album "Odd Blood" is to be released Feb. 9, and the tour starts here amid the fossils. For those, perhaps, who find Vampire Weekend too safe. Arrive early to catch meticulous and moody locals Warpaint. Feb. 5 at the Natural History Museum, 900 Exposition Blvd., $9 (cost of museum admission).
Vivian Girls. Fast and dreamy, if one's dreams tend more toward the gloomy side of the spectrum, the Vivian Girls' sophomore effort, "Everything Goes Wrong," honed the act's dead-stare harmonies and punk rock guitar rush. The Brooklyn trio added some space to the songs, stretching arrangements to more readily define the choruses, and gave the listener more to hum along with. Feb. 6 at the Smell, 247 S. Main St., $5.
St. Vincent. Pop & Hiss has been vocal in its support of St. Vincent's "Actor," a lush, fantastical exploration of orchestral pop, with the occasional shocking guitar part or two. With sometimes blunt lyrics, the end result is something between a David Mamet play and a Disney musical. St. Vincent, the moniker adapted by Annie Clark, has been through L.A. a couple times already in support of "Actor," and this February stop will likely be the last in the album cycle. Feb. 9 at the El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., $16.
Cheap Trick. The pride of Rockford, Ill., has somewhat reinvented itself in recent years, thanks to the band's elaborate, Las Vegas-ready take on the Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band," which should be an annual event at the Hollywood Bowl. But a club is still the best place to see Cheap Trick, as one should be up close when experiencing Bun E. Carlos' cymbal crush and Rick Nielsen's fierce guitar work. It was overlooked, but 2009 effort "The Latest" is hard-hitting power-pop at its best. Feb. 25 at the House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., $52.50.
Dirty Projectors. The experimental Brooklyn six-piece will co-headline the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which represents a major step up from the Echo Park and West Hollywood locales of the act's more recent trips through L.A. Extremely precise and ornate, Dirty Projectors' interlocking harmonies and oddly tuned guitar parts should fit comfortably in the orchestra hall. Feb. 27 at the Disney Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., $39.75-$68.75.
Midlake. The Texas band's "The Courage of Others" will be its first release in four years, and initial tracks available see the band more deeply exploring the richly warm '70s rock textures of 2006's "The Trials of Van Occupanther." With soft and lulling harmonies, this is music built for contemplation. March 3 at the El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., $14.
She & Him. The pairing of actress-singer Zooey Deschanel with vintage-loving singer-songwriter M. Ward will return with "Volume Two" on March 23. Once again marrying AM-radio melodies with Deschanel's sweetly low-key vocals, "Volume Two" is a loving nod to a bygone era. But these crisp arrangements and Deschanel's curtsy charm are timeless. March 25 at the El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd. Sold out.
Jay-Z. The hip-hop superstar heads into 2010 on yet another hot streak, thanks to the success of pro-New York anthem "Empire State of Mind" with Alicia Keys. His live shows have become more honed over the years, surprise guests are all but guaranteed and his live backing band has been winning strong reviews for taking old material in new directions. March 26 at Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., $39.50-$129.50.
The Black Eyed Peas. Local hip-hop outfit-turned-pop stars have turned 2009's "The E.N.D." into their biggest live show to date. Leader will.i.am seems to have designs on an arena-rock spectacle that will someday rival U2, and recent hits such as "Boom Boom Pow" and "Meet Me Halfway" have given the band even more ubiquitous fodder to blow out on the live stage. March 29 at Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., $49.50-$389
-- Todd Martens
Top photo: Jay-Z. Credit: Associated Press
Bottom photo: Dirty Projectors. Credit: Sarah Cass