The LA Setlist: May 6-12, 2024

The Best Los Angeles Concerts

La Mera Candelaria
Photo: La Mera Candelaria, Facebook

Los Angeles is one of just a handful of cities worldwide where there’s a concert or music festival worth building a trip around almost every day. Whether you book a convenient hotel for the night of the show or use a gig by one of your favorite artists as an excuse for a multi-day stay in LA - where there’s also so much else to see and do - is the place. Here are a dozen upcoming LA concerts worth stuffing a suitcase and booking a stay.

Gaby Moreno at The Venice West
Gaby Moreno | Photo: The Venice West

Gaby Moreno - The Venice West (May 6)

LA-based Gaby Moreno is a Guatemalan singer-songwriter who, as well as previously winning two Latin Grammy Awards, this year lifted the Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Album for 2023’s X Mí (Vol 1). It’s been a long road for Moreno, whose nuanced sound straddles Latin, blues, folk, and Americana, since she became the first Latin American to win the John Lennon Songwriting Contest back in 2006 and then independently released her debut album three years later. So, it’s perhaps fitting that X Mí (Vol 1) is a career-spanning collection of previously released songs revisited as acoustic versions, offering the aura of the intimate clubs where Moreno started out before touring with the likes of Tracy Chapman and Ani DiFranco.

This Venice West performance is one of the official after-parties for the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, where Moreno plays the previous afternoon. Tickets on sale at Ticketweb.

Aviator Nation Dreamland

Daniel Lanois Trio - Aviator Nation Dreamland (May 7-9)

Aviator Nation Dreamland may be unfamiliar to many, but this relatively new venue in fact boasts decades of live music history. Previously known as the Malibu Inn, it was also, in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Crazy Horse Saloon, which was part owned by Neil Young and hosted the likes of The Doors, The Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. Athleisure brand Aviator Nation, which has a store in the same building, recently reactivated the 14,000 square-foot room, including installing a state-of-the-art sound system.

Daniel Lanois is a seven-time Grammy Award winning Canadian producer famed for his work with the likes of U2, Bob Dylan, and Emmylou Harris. He also releases solo albums with increasing regularity, including the evocative gospel outpourings of 2021’s critically acclaimed Heavy Sun. For his three-night stand in Malibu, expect the Daniel Lanois Trio to defy its minimal membership with lush harmonies and supremely tasteful arrangements. General Admission tickets on sale at Tixr, with VIP Table option available.

Kara Jackson at The Moroccan Lounge
Kara Jackson at The Moroccan Lounge | Photo: Ticketmaster

Kara Jackson - The Moroccan Lounge (May 8)

While perhaps more widely recognized for her poetry, former U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson’s 2023 unapologetic, folky yet non-traditional debut album, Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? immediately put her on the musical map. Her occasionally pitchy singing only enhances the authenticity of a record that, as befits Jackson’s background, resonates as much through words as music, its admirably restrained, organic instrumentation predominantly more frame than picture. Yet the critically adored Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? is far removed from the borderline spoken word you might expect from a poet/musician, instead being rich in melody, harmony, and atmosphere. Amidst sparse acoustic guitar, keys, and wind instruments, Jackson – still only in her mid 20s – weaves sweet ‘n sour storytelling and arresting imagery rooted in relationships, self-discovery, and the (oft related) things we do for validation. Tickets on sale at Ticketmaster.

Gipsy Kings at YouTube Theater
Gipsy Kings at YouTube Theater | Photo: Live Nation

Gipsy Kings - YouTube Theater (May 9)

For more than 45 years, the aptly named Gipsy Kings have been crisscrossing the globe spreading their signature mash of flamenco, Catalan rumba, salsa, and pop. Rooted in the Reyes and Baliardo families, both of Spanish Romani origin, the group has for the past quarter-century been fronted by songwriters/producers Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo. On stage, France’s all-time most successful musical group is a 10-piece ensemble featuring multiple shimmering acoustic guitars, massed mostly Catalan-language vocals, percussion and keys. Pioneers and pillars of so-called “world music,” whose 2013 Savor Flamenco won a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Album, Gipsy Kings still perform with an inimitable, infectious zeal. While purists may frown upon their overtly commercial approach, including releasing popular interpretations of existing English-language hits, in so doing Gipsy Kings have undoubtedly introduced fresh sounds from faraway cultures to millions. Tickets on sale at Ticketmaster.

Black and white photo of Cut Chemist
Cut Chemist | Photo: The Venice West

Cut Chemist - The Venice West (May 9)

“If it exists, we don’t want it,” Cut Chemist told MusicTech earlier this year. It’s unclear what incarnation of his famously ambitious audio-visual experiences CC will create at Venice West, but you can be confident that it’ll marry bleeding-edge technology to his defiantly DIY spirit. The former Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli member (real name Lucas MacFadden) is a revered and prolific DJ and producer, but that only hints at the restless imagination of the man and his curated live performances. For example, his "Tunnel Vision" concept has him sharing stages with respected peers – most recently DJs Edan, Shortkut and Boss Harmz – with Tom Fitzgerald running live visuals. While on tour in Europe opening for Colombian superstar Shakira back in 2007, he and Fitzgerald perfected filming the crowd during his set and then ending it with a "visual scratching" of those images, which has also become a feature of “Tunnel Vision.” Tickets at Ticketweb.

Steve Ignorant at The Glass House
Steve Ignorant at The Glass House | Photo: Steve Ignorant Official, Facebook

Steve Ignorant Band - The Glass House (May 9)

Crass was as much an anarcho art collective as it was a punk band, and perhaps its most lasting legacy has been the distinctive artwork and do-it-yourself ethic that still permeates the genre’s underground. As the co-founding singer of Crass (the band), Steve Ignorant has periodically revisited their catalog on stage with a well-drilled five-piece that delivers the old material often with more fidelity than the original, relatively crude 1977-1984 recordings. Now resembling a This Is England alum with his shaved head and polo shirts, Ignorant still conveys conviction in every word of songs that Crass sometimes dubbed “tactical responses” to socio-political situations of their time. But what brings the Steve Ignorant Band into the here-and-now is his longtime co-vocalist/keyboard player Carol Hodge, whose spirited, semi-theatrical stagecraft and impassioned singing are welcome foils for Ignorant’s bloke-down-the-pub demeanor and hoarse East London bellow. Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at Dice.

Nighttime aka Eva Louise Goodman
Nighttime aka Eva Louise Goodman | Photo: Bandcamp

Nighttime - Permanent Records Roadhouse (May 10)

On last year’s Keeper is the Heart, her third album as Nighttime, Eva Louise Goodman wanders arms outstretched into otherworldly, borderline Wicker Man psych-folk. The upstate New Yorker’s late 1960s and early ‘70s transatlantic echoes – Pentangle, Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day, Linda Perhacs – are made her own with glacial, detached vocals less tremulous than most of her “for fans of” list, lending an air of wide-eyed ‘n wonderful enlightenment to her woozy melodies and nuanced tapestries of eclectic instrumentation. Equally effective as an outdoorsy, summer afternoon soundtrack or an introverted headphone indulgence, Keeper is the Heart is nostalgic yet seldom musty, retro without sinking into retrogression. However subtly or even subconsciously, it is folk music born of and speaking to the present. A young woman with an old soul and a single mind, Nighttime is a welcome treasure apparently blissfully unaware of the past half-century of music history. Tickets to the patio show are on sale at Dice.

Wayward Sons LA
Photo: Wayward Sons LA

Wayward Sons - The Canyon (May 10)

Whatever your feelings about so-called tribute bands, they’re apparently here to stay. LA’s Wayward Sons (not to be confused with the all-original UK band of the same name) pay tribute to an era rather than a specific act, lovingly recreating 1980s power-chord rock by the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Journey, Whitesnake and more. With tongues firmly in cheeks (and possibly socks stuffed in crotches), they perform in spandex-and-headbands period attire and even affect English accents à la David Coverdale or Freddie Mercury. Wayward Sons are willing to wander beyond just hair metal bands, taking admirable cracks at a-ha’s classic "Take On Me" and even the Live Aid/USA for Africa charity anthem "We Are the World." This show gets bonus points for being at The Canyon, which boasts the aura of a cavernous country bar, easy free parking right outside, and charming staff. Tickets on sale at AXS. Two drink minimum.

Born of Osiris at 1720
Born of Osiris at 1720 | Photo: Eventbrite

Born of Osiris - 1720 (May 11)

Chicago’s Born of Osiris have outlived and outgrown the “djent” subgenre with which they were once associated, instead forging a progressive deathcore path increasingly intertwined with poppy electronica. Active since the early aughts - albeit originally under different names - they’ve survived metal’s shifting trends through above average songcraft and arrangements. (It’s significant that they’re still able to headline Downtown LA’s 700-capacity 1720, well after their commercial peak.) On their sixth full-length Angel or Alien, released in 2021, Born of Osiris continue their ancient Egypt-obsessed tech-death assault with a renewed purpose, expanding their sonic horizons with lashings of electronic hooks and stylistic surprises. Clocking in at 55 minutes, it’s not for the faint of heart, but nonetheless could attract an audience beyond their existing fanbase. The departure of co-founding keyboardist and co-lead vocalist Joe Buras in March will surely impact BoO’s sound, but with two OGs still aboard, the faithful can rest easy.

Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at Etix, with a VIP table option available.

Tei Shi at Teragram Ballroom
Tei Shi | Photo: Teragram Ballroom

Tei Shi - Teragram Ballroom (May 11)

Colombian-Canadian singer/songwriter/producer Tei Shi makes thoughtful, multicultural pop that’s hip to name drop. The throughline of a shape-shifting 10-year career has been her experimental edge and distinctively luminous vocal ability. Tei Shi’s first two albums – 2017’s Crawl Space and 2019’s La Linda – were acceptable faces of ‘80s/‘90s pop/R&B nostalgia that seduced even hardened indie gatekeepers. But then came a rancorous split from her label, a move from NY to LA, and an audible thirst for change on dance-fueled EPs Die 4 Ur Love and Bad Premonition. On the first singles from her new album, Valerie – the bachata-based “Quedate Queriéndome” and the exquisite, fluttering future tropicália of “No Falta” – Tei Shi counterintuitively moves on more convincingly by shunning the self-conscious reinvention of her prior two releases. It’s no coincidence that Valerie, released on April 19, is eponymous (Tei Shi’s birth name is Valerie).

General Admission tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster.

La Mera Candelaria
Photo: La Mera Candelaria, Facebook

La Mera Candelaria - The Paramount (May 11)

La Mera Candelaria is an LA-based Caribbean salas/cumbia band fronted by queer Xicana musician and activist Stephani Candelaria. The group’s stated goal is "to turn a world of misogyny and power structures on its own head … all while making you dance," and – unless you don’t have a rhythmic bone in your body – dance you will! The dapper sextet’s evolved arrangements have Cuban tres sharing evocative melodies with Candelaria’s supple pipes, framed and embroidered with co-ed backing vocals, congas and hand percussion. Equal parts cross-cultural celebration and timely call-to-action, La Mera Candelaria’s live shows seamlessly stitch the traditional and contemporary, using irresistible dance music as a joyous Trojan horse for challenging societal and cultural status quos without getting preachy or letting message overshadow music. While La Mera Candelaria has released two EPs and an album, it's on stage that this physically and cerebrally rousing outfit truly takes flight. Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at Dice.

Cruel World 2024
Cruel World 2024 | Photo: Goldenvoice

Cruel World - Rose Bowl Stadium (May 12)

As soon as the first Cruel World festival was announced in 2020, it became almost mandatory for anyone who ever wore spiked hair or a fishnet shirt and could make it to Pasadena. That first lineup of bands was such a Who’s Who of the new wave/post-punk/goth rock genres – including Morrissey, Bauhaus, Blondie and Devo – that some fans (this writer included) mistook the flyer for a spoof. Yet, although ultimately postponed till 2022 due to the pandemic, it was a very real and successful gathering of some of the most enduring '80s “alternative” acts alongside a few more recent revivalists, and Cruel World has maintained a similar quality of talent ever since.

For its 2024 edition, headliners Duran Duran are joined by Interpol, returnees Blondie and Gary Numan, Simple Minds, Adam Ant, The Mission UK, and many more, plus special guests Tones on Tail. Remember to bring sunblock and preferably a hat to maintain that subculture-requisite pastiness.

Passes are on sale at the Cruel World website, with options including General Admission, VIP, Clubhouse and more.