72 Hours: Wiz Khalifa, Tim Fite, Batusis among the weekend's most notable concerts
A Pop & Hiss look at the top shows happening around town this weekend.
Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf @ the Music Box. Wiz Khalifa's career was once seemed left for dead, with a gone-bust deal with Warner Bros. and little more than mix-tape cred to his name. Kanye West made hip-hop safe for nerdy tough guys, and Kid Cudi put psychedelics and trance chill-outs in vogue. Wiz Khalifa traffics somewhere in the middle, and he's here for two sold-out nights at the Music Box before he issues his first proper major label effort in 2011. First single, "Black & Yellow," is a Pittsburgh love letter that's dank and sometimes claustrophobic, but largely minimalist bravado. Yelawolf is working on a major label effort himself, an Interscope album that already has the Eminem stamp of approval. The sandpaper-scratched vocalist takes a more aggressive route than Wiz Khalifa, and his delivery is full of sudden gear shifts. His obsessions are little more than cars, girls and getting hammered, but it's safe to say he's pretty serious about all of them. The Music Box, 6126 Hollywood Blvd. The show is sold out, and tickets start at about $70 on secondary markets.
Slayer, Megadeath @ Gibson Amphitheatre. Do not make the mistake of taking Slayer for granted. Since 2001's "God Hates Us All," Slayer has gradually been embracing more topical subject matter (oh, don't worry, they still share a love for all things apocalyptic), and the band has survived about three decades without fattening up. This is metal at its most no frills, where tangled guitars are delivered with a punk-rock ferociousness. Megadeath, likewise, dispenses its musical violence with sleekness. The Gibson Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza. Tickets, which are still available, range from $15-$84.50, not including surcharges.
Tim Fite @ the Troubadour. This New York City weirdo doesn't make it out to Los Angeles often, but praise be to Anti- for keeping the man employed -- sort of. Fite's preference is to give away his music for free, but he's definitely not a get-what-you-pay-for case. Fite and his folksy, sing-songy delivery represents the most eclectic end of Anti-, and this is a label, mind you, that counts the likes of Tom Waits, Busdriver and Nick Cave among its stable. What to expect? Maybe puppets. Some hip-hop samples. Maybe clay monsters. Some looped guitars. Maybe (hopefully) demented animation. Probably a novelty Halloween song. Yet count on plenty of misfit observations -- and the occasional rant -- about life in the big city. With Whispertown and Azure Ray (headliners). The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Tickets are $15.
Electric Six @ the Key Club. No doubt you forgot about these high-energy Detroit party rockers, with songs such as "Gay Bar" and "Danger! High Voltage" damning the act to novelty status. But the Electric Six remains a bar band full of surprises, and one that isn't afraid to employ plenty of over-the-top stage antics. New album "Zodiac" ricochets between punk rock, disco, funk and classic rock riffery, and singer Dick Valentine can howl and growl like "a man on the street," even as he wants to drink like "a man on the beach." Here's betting he'll settle for whatever West Hollywood can offer. The Key Club, 9039 Sunset. Blvd, West Hollywood. Tickets are $15.
Amanda Jo Williams, Sweaters and Jail Weddings @ the Bootleg Theater. There's plenty to like on this local bill. Amanda Jo Williams laces her starry-eyed country with weirdness, and Sweaters rock with a familiar sort of comfort, thanks, largely to the soulful keyboard orchestrations. Headliners Jail Weddings have a new album, "Love Is Lawless," and cause an old-fashioned ruckus. A 10-member band, Jail Weddings fleshes out its '60s-era garage rock sound with call-and-response vocals, and arrangements that swing and vamp with equal fervor. The Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd. Tickets are $10.
Sufjan Stevens @ the Wiltern. This low-key indie pop singer is no doubt the hottest ticket in town this weekend. Stevens' two-night stay at the Wiltern, which begins Saturday, is sold out, and tickets on StubHub will currently run you somewhere between $60 and $250, approximately. So if you don't already have your tickets, is it worth it? Times critic Ann Powers believes so, giving his recently released "Age of Adz" 3.5 stars, out of four. It's quiet, idiosyncratic stuff, and "Adz" sees Stevens adding a touch of electronics to his choral orchestrations. These aren't songs that always pop, so thankfully it's an all-seated show. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd. Also Sunday. The shows are sold out.
The Octopus Project @ the Echoplex. This Austin, Texas, outfit's upcoming "Hexadecagon" is as trippy as it is adventurous, and expect the requisite -- and quite compelling, if a little creepy -- visuals. How the act will shoehorn its languid expansiveness into the Echoplex should be a sight unto itself, as "Hexadecagon" is meant to be played in the round. Regardless, these spacey, drawn-out grooves, a colorfully playful mix of the modern and the vintage, are meant to be absorbed rather than danced to. The Echoplex, 1822 Sunset. Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 day of show.
Batusis @ the Viper Room. One could probably get at least a vague sense of what Batusis sounds like simply by stating facts rather than pulling any adjectives out of the rock-crit playbook (so stay put, "jangly" and "au courant"). The act is headed by Sylvain Sylvain and Cheetah Chrome, two veterans of the punk and glam scenes. Sylvain has the New York Dolls in his resume, and Chrome can boast Rocket From the Tombs and the Dead Boys on his. As Batusis, they have one EP, and it's four songs packed with plenty of old-man lust ("What You Lack in Brains") and been-there, done-that venom ("Bury You Alive"). Whether Batusis has a life much beyond the EP and this Viper Room stop is unknown, so it's advised to drown in the act's proudly crusty and heavily inebriated rock. The Viper Room, 8852 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Tickets are $12.
Gold Motel @ the Echo. Chicago's the Hush Sound were always one of the brighter shining stars in Pete Wentz's stable of bands on Decaydance. That band's future is in doubt, but the assertively bright vocals of Greta Morgan never were. Her new band, Gold Motel, is all wistful Cali-pop, the kind of sun-longing anthems crafted during bitter Windy City winters rather than Laurel Canyon pool party jam sessions. There's more promise than perfection in these ditties, but a night of harmonies and hand claps is never bad for the soul. The Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $8 in advance, and $10 day of.
-- Todd Martens
Images, from top: Tim Fite (Anti- Records); the Octopus Project (Aubrey Edwards); Gold Motel's Greta Morgan (Screenshot from the music video "Perfect in My Mind").