72 Hours: Former Sleater-Kinney members return as Wild Flag; Tunng explores the fringes of folk
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, rock 'n' roll touring schedules get a little lighter. Nevertheless, Pop & Hiss is back to highlight some of this weekend's top shows.
Pepper Rabbit @ the Echo. Catch the rising local pop duo in this headliner at the Echo, as their next planned gig in town will be as an opening act for the electronic-pop act Passion Pit in December. For a two-piece that sometimes leads with an ukulele, Pepper Rabbit have a rather expansive, atmospheric sound. Live, the band adds a member, but clever instrument swapping and a use of loops and samples makes the whispy act feel as if it's armed with an orchestra. The Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Tickets are $8.
Richard Thompson @ UCLA's Royce Hall. He's a guitar virtuoso, folk legend and a storyteller with a biting sense of humor. His "Cabaret of Souls," he tells Pop & Hiss, is a song cycle about "a talent contest in the underworld." Sure, but the guitar work is something to marvel at, and Thompson deserves bonus points for “Here Comes Geordie,” a song that's believed to be making a mockery of Sting. Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, UCLA campus. Tickets $32.75-$59.25, not including surcharges.
Wild Flag @ Spaceland. It's been a good year for Sleater-Kinney fans. Not too long after Corin Tucker played a criminally under-attended gig at the El Rey, her former partners Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss make their way into town with Wild Flag, a new outfit that's an indie rock supergroup of sorts. The former S-K'ers are joined by ex-Helium guitarist/vocalist Mary Timony and keyboardist Rebecca Cole, formerly a drummer for pop outfit the Minders. But let's face it, discussing resumes is boring. Videos floating around of Wild Flag gigs, however, are not, as they show a band that's loud, exquisitely sloppy and supremely dedicated to providing rock 'n' roll fun. Expect a choice selection of covers as well, and even those without Boston pride should be able to get in line behind a slippery, fuzz-laden take on the Standells' "Dirty Water." Spaceland, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $10 in advance; $12 day of.
Tunng @ the Bootleg Theater. Tunng gives traditional British folk a shot of weirdness. The lovely melodies and sweetly sung vocals are a nod to another era, but the random mix of electronics, looped samples and distorted instrumentation keeps the audience on notice. It's never disconcerting, however, as the U.K. art-pop collective prioritizes playfulness ahead of experimentation. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd. Tickets are $10.
Bob Mould @ the Bootleg Theater. Mould's 2009 album "Life & Times" was a late-career kick in the behind. Behind every jangly acoustic guitar is a blast of electric fuzz, and though it's nominally an album about reflection, this isn't rock 'n' roll nostalgia. At its best, it's an aggressive, blood-and-guts look back at past relationships. Live, Mould has been digging into the Sugar and Hüsker Dü catalog more and more of late, so bring earplugs to this career overview from one of the architects of indie rock. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd. Tickets are $22.
Zs @ the Smell. Somewhere between an instrumental band and a concept, New York's Zs can sound like a minimalist freak show. Yet it's so expertly detailed that each piece becomes an exercise in tension. How and where the saxophone and drums will emerge from cavernous drones becomes an intellectual puzzle, as instruments shift and morph into sounds that should be coming from another planet. The Smell, 247 S. Main St., Los Angeles. Admission is $5.
More weekend tips: Weekend Top 10: Aziz Ansari, L.A. Auto Show and more
-- Todd Martens
Photo: Wild Flag. Credit: Merge Records