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Friday, October 24
Street Dogs Alex's Bar There's plenty of inspiration from legendary bands like Stiff Little Fingers and Sham 69 in Boston's formidable Street Dogs, who cover Menace (with updated lyrics examining how the GOP is full of shit, shit, shit shit shit!) and Steve Earle on a never-ending mission to speak up for the man on the street, and presumably his dog, too. Started in 2002 by Mike McColgan, co-founder of the Dropkick Murphys, Street Dogs released a ferocious set of Boston-ian Oi!-punk albums that led them to Hellcat Records--also famously once home of Dropkick Murphys--and now to Pirate's Press Records, where they get to be labelmates with Cock Sparrer. While there's no new full-length yet, they've put out a recent and relentless set of EPs and splits that prove they're just as rabid as ever. (Chris Ziegler)
Kimbra The Observatory When Gotye hit it big with "Somebody That I Used to Know," he didn't do it alone. The chart-conquering 2012 track also featured the New Zealand-born, Australia-based singer-songwriter Kimbra Lee Johnson, who performs professionally as simply Kimbra. Johnson initially started penning songs and playing guitar as a teenager, right as her musical ear began veering off in unusual directions. "I'd gone from R&B and soul music and suddenly being super-inspired by metal and prog-rock and experimental psychedelic music," she told Interview magazine in 2011. That versatility is reflected in August's The Golden Echo, her second record. Assisted by a medley of guests -- among others, Bilal, John Legend, Muse leader Matt Bellamy, and David Longstreth from Dirty Projectors -- Johnson joyfully plays around with styles and angles, never settling on a thing. "Miracle" sports the carefree pomp of a disco song, "As You Are" is a warm piano ballad, and the warped "'90s Music" is experimental electronic music. Who needs a kaleidoscope when you have Kimbra? Catch her early show at the Observatory at 8 p.m. before illustrious stoner Wiz Kahlifa takes the stage later that night. (Reyan Ali)
Wiz Khalifa The Observatory (Late show) Rapper Wiz Khalifa is taking over the late night crowd at the Observatory Taylor Gang style, supplying Santa Ana with easily one of craziest concerts of the fall in support of his latest release, Blacc Hollywood. And of course, the opportunity to roll into a packed venue with your pals and group chant the chorus to "We Dem Boyz" is well worth the price of admission (Nate Jackson) Saturday, October 25
Beach Goth The Observatory The Growlers sound is a fusion of elements from surf beat, reggae, dub and country that provides a backdrop for their signature cross-dressing freakiness, insane house parties, and lyrics about death and vice. For the past few years, the vibe has culminated in their annual Beach Goth festival, a bacchanal imagined by Growlers fans and sustained by the band's tireless efforts to coordinate the whole damn thing. With help from the Observatory, this year has turned out to be the biggest one yet. Performers range from OC art-punk duo the Garden to pop punkers Joyce Manor and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Picture a Halloween masquerade party fueled by black lights and acid. Throw in more than three dozen eclectic, crazy acts on three stages and an after-hours "Carney Barney Rave." (Nate Jackson)
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Sunday, October 26
Leon Russell Coach House At this point in Leon Russell's illustrious career, there are few things the man hasn't seen or done. Between his work as a session musician and producer for the likes of Bob Dylan, Herb Alpert, George Harrison and, in 2010, a collaboration with Elton John, the 72-year-old has established himself as one of blues rock's most decorated journeymen. Earlier this year, Russell released a collection of covers that paid tribute to a wide array of rock luminaries in a re-imagined fashion that only he could create. Unsurprisingly, the record was critically acclaimed and lauded for its instinctive creativity. It would have surprised no one that, after nearly 60 years of playing live, the grizzled bluesman would be ready to quietly call it quits--instead, the Rock N Roll Hall of Famer continues to dazzle, showing that he has plenty of music left to share. (Daniel Kohn)