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Friday, February 20
The White Buffalo The Observatory With his long brown hair, an intimidating beard and his don't-fuck-with-me look, the White Buffalo--who was born into this world as Jake Smith--is a throwback to a time when rough-and-tumble, hard-drinking artists (à la Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart) resonated with audiences more than manufactured, über-produced pop stars. But Smith connects with a range of audiences in a very contemporary way and has a catalog that spans not only heartfelt ballads, but also raucous bar songs. (Daniel Kohn)
Saturday, February 21
Ramon Ayala Honda Center Ramon Ayala is probably more vital now than ever, especially given his music will have the Observatory swaying like no other act in its history. At the very least, Ayala is more beloved than any of his regional Mexican peers, as he's the one most like our dads: not cartoonishly macho like Vicente Fernández, but proud of who he is: eternally wearing a mustache, tejana, and the most fabulous Mexi-mullet of all time. See him at the Honda Center this weekend along with Poncho Barrazza and Eliseo Robles. (Gustavo Arellano)
Cursive The Glass House The members of Cursive weren't even sure the band would survive long enough to make a fourth album. While their first three had won them fans and sold moderately well, they were hardly a juggernaut by early 2003. During recording sessions at that time, singer Tim Kasher's lung collapsed, and his band mates were concerned he'd no longer be able to sing. Kasher survived the scare and went back into the studio, the results of which were released as The Ugly Organ, Cursive's defining album. To celebrate the landmark album, the band and label Saddle Creek Records gave it the reissue treatment. While songs from The Ugly Organ remain a strong presence in Cursive's live set, on this tour, the group will include songs such as "Nonsense," which they never play live, so fans who shell out the money are in for a rare treat. (Daniel Kohn) Guttermouth The Observatory You probably wouldn't figure a band that sings songs about barbecues and fast food chicken restaurants to experience much longevity. But Orange County grown punk group Guttermouth sings about exactly those things and they've been doing it for more than 20 years. Go check out the hi octane punk group, famous for inviting fans to spit on them, and returning the favor with hilarious songs. See them at the Observatory for the low,low price of $5. (Brandon Ferguson)
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Sunday, February 23
Billy Idol The Observatory He may look as if his face has been run over 18 times by a big rig, but veteran rocker Billy Idol hasn't lost a bit of the old charm and sneer, and excellent music chops. Garnering a huge audience for the songs from his new album Kings and Queens of the Underground shouldn't be as difficult as it probably is; the first single, "Can't Break Me Down," is definitely updated Idol, and pure stadium rock for the alt crowd that has huge crossover potential. The rest of the album is slower, moodier, and more poetic, which means it has zero chance of reaching Pitbull and Kanye fans. But then, who wants them? Keep on rockin', punk rock king. Go show him your air-pumping fists this weekend and rock his resilient cradle of love. (SR Davies)