Category: 72 Hours

72 Hours: Esperanza Spalding, Eagle Rock Fest among weekend's top gigs

The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts -- back after an extended hiatus.

Esperanza Spalding plays the Orpheum on Friday


• Esperanza Spalding @ the Orpheum. The glow of the spotlight might have faded a touch since Spalding rocked a nation of Justin Bieber fans with a new artist Grammy earlier this year, but all eyes will be on her for this performance of her breakthrough album “Chamber Music Society.” Past Grammy winners in this category have found trouble living up to the title, but in this case -- and for this show -- don't bet on it. A review of this concert will appear this weekend on our sister blog Culture Monster, as we at Pop & Hiss are too unsophisticated, apparently, to discuss jazz. Orpheum Theater, 842 S. Broadway, Los Angeles. Tickets range from $24.50-$57, not including surcharges.

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72 Hours: The rescheduled Sunset Junction gigs edition [UPDATED]

Butch Walker and the Black Widows

The cancellation of Sunset Junction has resulted in some last-minute scrambling among the many acts scheduled to play. Here's a look at the ever-growing list, and Pop & Hiss has its fingers crossed that what's listed below won't continue to change.


• The Butthole Surfers @ the Echoplex. The alt-rock weirdos play only sporadically these days, but shows are still full of plenty of punk rock spectacle lest anyone get too nostalgic. With local vets 400 Blows. The Echoplex, 154 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $22.

• Butch Walker @ Dangerbird Records. The career of this dark-haired singer-songwriter has run the gamut from glam metal to folk rock. These days, his Americana-inflected rock band Butch Walker and the Black Widows melds vivid storytelling with hum and strum pop sensibilities. Playing with The Fling, Useless Keys, Milo Greene, Vanaprasta, Chasing Kings and more. 12-6 p.m., 3801 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. The event is free, but donations to the Pablove Foundation are encouarged.

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72 Hours: Decemberists, Aimee Mann among weekend's top gigs

The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.

The Decemberists


• The Decemberists & Wye Oak @ the Greek. For its new album, "The King Is Dead," Portland's the Decemberists dropped some of its more baroque trappings and followed up the rock opera of 2009's "The Hazards of Love" with its most direct effort to date. But straightforward doesn't necessarily mean simple, as the Decemberists have outfitted the modest melodies of "The King Is Dead" with an assortment of roots rock trappings, and the country accents should glisten under the stars at the Greek. Arrive early for Wye Oak, a Baltimore duo that balances more intricate harmonies and inventive keyboard lines with with crests of guitars. The Greek, 2700 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. Tickets range from $32.50 - $42.50, not including surcharges. -- Todd Martens

• Eels @ the El Rey. The recording alter ego of Los Feliz native Mark "E" Everett, Eels may have yet to hit the same exquisitely melancholy heights of 1998's "Electro-Shock Blues" but its darkly twisted way with barbed pop songs remains strong on a pair of 2010 albums, "End Times" and "Tomorrow Morning." The El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $30, not including service fees. -- Chris Barton

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72 Hours: Orca Team, Andrea Balency Trio among top weekend gigs


The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.


Orca Team @ The Smell. While Seattle-bred, Orca Team shouldn't have any problem winning over fans in SoCal. After all, overriding all Orca Team touches is a surf rock bent. But this trio isn't a band of beach party revivalists. The tone is more rusty garage than sandy vista, as Orca Team is punk rock stripped of almost all outerwear. Guitars are wire-mesh-thin, trailing the awkwardly youthful urgency of Leif Anders down multiple detours, be it a muted drum break or high-pitched, finger-scraped guitar lines. Break-ups, hook-ups, dead-end jobs and car drives to Vancouver, British Columbia, in which the band makes a point to skip its home city ("it ain't that great") are all tackled with exuberant charm. The Smell, 247 S. Main St., Los Angeles. Admission is $5. -- Todd Martens

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72 Hours: Eleanor Friedberger, Kurt Vile, Rage and more

The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.

Eleanor Friedberger


• Eleanor Friedberger @ Origami Vinyl. Friedberger's solo debut, "Last Summer," is a beautiful collection of pop oddities and forgotten comforts. Known best for work in pop experimentalists the Fiery Furnaces, Friedberger here sounds like she's canvassed a well-curated vinyl collection for inspiration and then tinkered with everything so it's just outside of the familiar. There's soulful piano-driven power pop, street-wise '70s funk, carnivalesque confessionals and everything in between. Yet it's always Friedberger who's out front, enunciating every syllable as if she's giving a reading rather than singing a song. Her level of storytelling, however, deserves such treatment. Something as simple as a failed attempt to visit Topanga's Inn of the Seventh Ray is a jumping-off point for melancholic nostalgia and summers laced with unfullfilled promises. This 7 p.m. show, in the loft at Origami, is free, so arrive as soon as your work schedule allows. Origami Vinyl, 1816 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Free. -- Todd Martens

• Kurt Vile & Thurston Moore @ the Troubadour. A pair of guitar aces grace the intimacy of the Troubadour, and expect them to play nice in the small venue. On leave from Sonic Youth, Moore will largely be in acoustic mode, showcasing for the strummy, violin-enhanced lushness of his recent "Demolished Thoughts." Prettiness rules over dissonance, and with hushed vocals residing over the proceedings, this is Moore defanged. The sold-out crowd would be wise to arrive early for Philadelphia's Vile. There's working-class venom in his lyrics, and each arrangement is carefully laid out with the most sharply intricate of electric guitar leads. Vile doesn't sing so much as slur, but the feel is one of effortlessness rather than laziness, as if this bitter slacker has no choice but to stand on stage with his guitar. The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Friday (Also Thursday). The show is sold out, and tickets on the secondary market are running $30-$50. -- TM

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72 Hours: Chelsea Wolfe, Dolly Parton, Soundgarden and more

The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.

Chelsea Wolfe traffics in music fit for a mood – a dark mood.

Most opt to open an album with a song. Some may go with a skit. Local singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, however, has opted for a scare tactic.

The opening track on her sophmore effort "Ἀποκάλυψις" (we'll get to the title in a moment) is a 24-second vocal attack. The screams and growls sound as if they belong to some heretofore unknown hellhound. Thankfully, at just the moment when any nonpossessed listener would shut the song off, Wolfe eases up.

That's not to say that there isn't any weirdness that follows, but what stands out on tracks such as "Mer" and "Tall Bodies" is a far more inviting sense of doom. Wolfe's voice is urgent, but with an old-fashioned classicism, and her guitar work is sparse, but more hypnotic than haunted.

So why put the listener on guard in the album's opening moments?

"I thought it was a good way to set the mood," Wofe said. "There’s something spiritual, but also something really grounded, about it. Those screams could be interpreted as something demonic, or something coming from Earth."

Lines and styles are walked carefully throughout "Ἀποκάλυψις," which takes its name from the Greek word for revelations and apocalypse. Wolfe, who opens for metal act Liturgy on Saturday at an early show at the Echo, grew up with music, although of a much lighter variety. Wolfe was raised in Sacramento, and her father played with a little-known western band. Don't press her for too many details on her father's music, however, as she admits she "didn't really know what they were doing."

She did, however, sneak into his studio, where she developed a loner's appreciation for songcraft. "I enjoy recording, especially alone," she said. "I like to feel totally free, create a soundscape around me and get lost in it. I’m not a gear person or anything like that. I like to work with whatever I have."

While much of her "Ἀποκάλυψις" is a mood piece, Wolfe finds plenty of room to roam in the shadows. A rhythmic stomp consumes the guitar horizons of "Demons," whereas "The Wasteland" is aural cataclysm, a rush of hiss and studio effects. Meanwhile, cuts such as "Moses" and "Pale on Pale" take more of an electric folk feel, although echo as if they were recorded in an abandoned church.

"I’m really inspired by visual art -- Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch -- and literature," Wolfe said. "So I’m trying to make something visual with sound. I want it to be visual in the listener’s head while they’re hearing it." -- Todd Martens

Chelsea Wofe with Liturgy at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Early show at 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 at the door.

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72 Hours: Brave the dreaded 'Carmageddon' for some music


  • Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 @ California Plaza. The youngest son of revolutionary Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti, the twentysomething Seun has taken the reins of his father's powerhouse band and set the controls for the same politically and rhythmically charged realm. On the Brian Eno-produced new album "From Africa With Fury: Rise," Seun and his charges sound both like an extension of Fela's legacy and its next logical progression. Grand Performances at California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. Friday at 8 p.m. Free. -- Chris Barton 
  • The Blow & He's My Brother She's My Sister @ the Troubadour. Skepticism can be expected when it comes to He's My Brother She's My Sister, as any band that has a tendency to perform with a tap dancer should be used to being greeted with a roll of the eyes. But a sigh of relief is in order, as the group, led by Lemon Sun's Rob Kolar and his sis Rachel, has been increasingly transcending its vaudeville touches. Backyard-party hooks abound, but an Old West bite gives the folksy pop a welcome sting. As for the Blow, that's essentially the moniker of Khaela Maricich, and she treats electro-pop as performance art. All the feather-light touches are gussied with an approach to songwriting that's borderline conversational and often confessional. She has a tendency to perform in a character, but all the oddities have only one goal in mind: to get the audience dancing. The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Friday. Tickets are $14. -- Todd Martens
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    72 Hours: A look at the top shows for the Fourth of July weekend


    So Many Wizards @ the Smell. These locals have been developing quite nicely, as is apparent on new 7" single "Inner City/Best Friends," for which this gig at the Smell will celebrate. While the voice of singer Nima Kazerouni may be increasingly becoming a love-it-or-hate-it thing for some listeners, the adoption of a scratched-record falsetto suits the band's shambly upbeat indie pop just fine. Kazerouni doesn't overdo it, and his backing mates on "Inner City" tackle the melody as if their job is to answer each of Kazerouni's lines. Rhythms never stop running uphill, and the slender guitar leads briskly decorate each vocal pause as if they're toying with Kazerouni. It all foretells good things to come for the band's delightfully wacky pop confectioneries. The Smell, 247 S. Main St., Los Angeles. Friday. Admission is $5. -- Todd Martens

    Hall & Oates @ the Hollywood Bowl. The resurgence of the fluffy Philly soul of Hall & Oates at first felt like a punch line that had gone on too long. Embraced by tastemakers such as Danger Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie and the Bird and the Bee, and also mocked memorably on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," it was hard to discern whether the act's catalog was being re-evaluated or simply championed by the fashionable because the pair were out of fashion. Yet credit Hall & Oates for riding the yacht rock wave with pride and fervor, and becoming a potent touring act out to prove that its bevy of hits were timeless rather than dated. The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. Saturday- Monday. Tickets range from  $12-$158, not including surcharges. -- TM

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    72 Hours: Sleep, Yellow Magic Orchestra and more

    The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.


    Sleep @ the Wiltern. This is a relatively rare appearance by the Bay Area's metal forebears and somewhat of a surprisingly large venue for the underground act. The Wiltern, however, will offer plenty of room for guitar wizard Matt Pike to explore, but while the tone is dark and deep, this is an aural assault that seems hellbent on annihilation. Bring earplugs, and expect crushes of lumbering, layered noise. So we've established that Sleep is a monolith of sound, but it's also a mind-blowing proficient one. Turn the songs into data, and you'd be left with something that looks ripped from a calculus textbook. Pike went on to form the equally excellent High On Fire, but Sleep's witch's brew of psychadelic mysticism and slogging, drawn-out grooves are the template for stoner metal. And there's no excuse for, well, sleeping on this one, because plenty of tickets are available. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets range from $25 to $35, not including surcharges. — Todd Martens

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    72 Hours: Catwalk, the Playboy Jazz Fest, La Sera and more

    A weekly Pop & Hiss look at some of the weekend's top shows.

    Catwalk @ the Smell. There hasn't been a shortage of scruffy garage-pop bands 'round these parts of late, but Oxnard act Catwalk has, in a limited output, shown enough style to earn a spot near the front of the litter. Credit, in part, the act's way with a ballad. "This Is Goodbye" isn't a kiss-off and it isn't steeped in regret, but as it gradually shimmies to a grand finale of boy-girl harmonies, its melancholic tones feel as if they're anticipating a future nostalgia. 

    Nick Hessler isn't a flamboyant singer, taking a tentatively-direct approach as if he's fronting the "Shake Some Action"-era Flamin' Groovies. Encouragingly, the band's 2011 singles have shown a grand leap forward when it comes to melodic confidence and pacing, as evidenced by the '60s rhythmic strut that opens "One By Words." It isn't long before an array of guitars gets caught in a tug-of-war, with moments of noise and restrained clarity at near constant odds. The Smell. 247 S. Main St., Los AngelesSaturday. Admission is $5. -- Todd Martens

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