72 Hours: Wilco, Secret Chiefs 3 and more
The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts, including Wilco, Lucinda Williams, the Secret Chiefs 3 and more.
• Wilco @ the Los Angeles Theatre. At an early, pivitol Wilco show back in 1996, the band played a Fourth of July concert in Chicago's Grant Park with Paul Westerberg. Wilco, of course, was the opening act, and before the band launched into the country-tinged rock of "I Must Be High," Tweedy self-deprecatingly leveled with the audience: "I hope ya'all like . . .," Tweedy said, describing his band with a word unfit for print.
Fifteen years and a few wholesale lineup changes later, Wilco is a much different band, but the attitude, one born out of an anything-goes, punk-rock idealism, is the same. Tweedy's band is one dedicated to constantly exploring the ever-changing limitations of its members, and the new album, "The Whole Love," reflects all the extremes a Wilco live show, of which this is the third and final in L.A. this week, will entail. "Art of Almost" is brazen in its experimental aggression, opening with a mix of digital thunder and Krautrock steadiness, and then exploding a surprisingly funky groove into a full-on guitar assault. Meanwhile, "One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)," unfolds like a daydream, a 12-minute ballad dedicated to subtle tweaks and instrumental precision. The Los Angeles Theatre, 615 S Broadway. The show is sold out, and tickets on the secondary market are selling for around $200.
• Lucinda Williams @ UCLA's Royce Hall. Though Williams has become puzzlingly easy to take for granted after so many years of sharply rough-and-tumble, confessional songcraft, the singer's 2011 album "Blessed" finds her unique voice sounding as strong as ever with an organ-flecked mix of country-rock and back-of-the-barroom blues. Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles (On the campus of UCLA.) The show is sold out. Tickets on the secondary market range from $63 to about $130.
• Secret Chiefs 3 @ the El Rey. Ostensibly led by one of Mike Patton's former cohorts in the reliably unhinged Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3 traffics in a sort of genre-blind musical mystery not often seen these days. For upward of 10 years, Trey Spruance has been delivering a curious hybird that twists up Arabian music, heavy-bassed electronica, Ennio Morricone-informed soundscapes and, for good measure, serrated-edged surf rock.
Joined by such jazz-steeped such as Ches Smith, Shahzad Ismaily, Eyvind Kang and Matt Chamberlain, Spruance's deeply twisted music (sample song title: "The Left Hand of Nothingness") can be tough to describe, but is never less than fascinating, and reliably unlike anything else. With Dengue Fever. El Rey Theater, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $20, not including surcharges.
• Mint Condition @ Club Nokia. With a recording career that now spans 20 years, Mint Condition has remained a steward of the R&B ballad, delivering tales of love and heartache with funky jazz detours and swinging grooves. With a new album in "7," Mint Condition is maintaining the tradition with elegance. It's as fine a place to start as any, as are any of the band's greatest hit collections that feature the likes of "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" and "What Kind of Man Would I Be." Club Nokia, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. Tickets range from $19.50-$45.
• The Strange Boys and Reigning Sound @ Alex's Bar. The Strange Boys slur and saunter around rock 'n' roll traditions, mixing old-fashioned, saloon-ready piano fills with purposely sloppy vocals and riffs. The Reigning Sound is a more cleaned-up act, so to speak, but don't mistake respecting garage rock ethos for good manners. Leader Greg Cartwright, as anyone familiar with his perhaps better-known band the Oblivions is well aware, knows his way around a hook and a putdown. Get there early for Fidlar, perhaps the most tunefully reckless band in this county. Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Admission is $17.
-- Chris Barton & Todd Martens
Image: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy at the Pallidium on Tuesday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times