Fri. Feb. 28 -- When you hear "Alan Ferber Expanded Ensemble," you think of the trombonist and some of the best musicians around, cuz they like to play that intelligent California drift. At the Blue Whale on the third level of Weller Court Plaza, south of East First Street between South Los Angeles Street and South San Pedro Street, Little Tokyo 90012; 9pm-midnight; $20; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.
Fri. Feb. 28 -- Eleni Mandell almost doesn't seem like a songwriter, because she just sounds as if she's singing about her life across a café table. But the craft's sure as hell there for the hearing. Singer-songwriter Vikesh Kapoor opens. At McCabe’s, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 90405; 8pm; $15; (310) 828-4497; www.mccabes.com.
Fri. Feb. 28 -- Some people like Steve Lukather for playing guitar with Toto; I forgive him for playing with Toto because he plays gargoyle fusion with Derek Sherinian sometimes. Lukather calls this presentation of music and spoken word (!) Sphinctersayswhat, with bassist Jorgen Carlsson, keyboardist Jeff Babko and drummer Toss Panos. At the Baked Potato, 3787 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Studio City 91604; 9:30 & 11:30pm; $35; sold out except for standing room; (818) 980-1615; www.thebakedpotato.com.
Sat. March 1 -- Maybe because they wait two or three years between major releases, there ain't many metal bands that deliver the hyperjuice as consistently as Finland's Children of Bodom. Last year's "Halo of Blood" maintained the energy, the precision, and the feeling that classicalized Scandinavian folk music was virtually made for metal interpretation. CoB pairs the shreddin' flow of superguitarist Alexi Laiho (now a "Guitar World" regular) and the tightly matched keyboards of Janne Wirman with the not overbusy pound of Jaska Raatikainen's drums to produce something like a metal version of Mahavishnu Orchestra; if the intricate musicality of the songwriting daunts dullards, Laiho's hateful vocal screech makes sure today's massively alienated hesher feels at home. (He poses like a mad champ, too.) With original Bay thrashers Death Angel, plus Tyr. At House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood 90069; 8pm; $30; (323) 848-5100; www.livenation.com.
Sat. March 1 -- Working out of CalArts, the superb world-music drum quartet Hands On'semble was founded in 1997 by faculty member John Bergamo, a musician of enormous influence who died in October. Now bandmates Randy Gloss, Andrew Grueschow and Austin Wrinkle, along with special guests Houman Pourmehdi and Poovalur Sriji, pay tribute to their comrade; many of the L.A. scene's finest musicians will no doubt be on hand to exchange memories. Read Mr. Bergamo's CalArts obituary here. At the Blue Whale on the third level of Weller Court Plaza, south of East First Street between South Los Angeles Street and South San Pedro Street, Little Tokyo 90012; 9pm-midnight; $15; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.
Sun. March 2 -- Where else you gonna find a Belgian who writes and performs for lute (Gilbert Isbin) in duo with superb SoCal bassist Scott Walton? Opening is the prismatic Open Gate Trio of pipa player Jie Ma (more on the string timbres front), flutist-singer Will Salmon and omni-drummer Alex Cline. At Center for the Arts, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock 90041; 7pm; $10; (626) 795-4989.
Tues. March 4 -- A bit o' classical, a bit o' fusion, a bit o' Armenian folk, expertly combined: Try pianist Tigran Martikyan, along with saxist Shai Golan, bassist Gabe Davis and drummer Lee Spath. At CAP Studio, 13752 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks 91423; 8:30 & 10pm; $15; (818) 990-2001.
Wed. March 5 -- Challenging the myth of Canadian niceness for three decades, Vancouver noise constructionists Skinny Puppy return for a rare L.A. gig. Earplugs should be handed out at the door, but to be safe, bring your own. At the Mayan Theater, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown 90015; 8pm; $47; www.ticketmaster.com.
Thurs. March 6 -- Relapse Records presents femme-fronted Olympians (WA) Christian Mistress, who look like plaid grungers but sound like twin-guitar doomsters; fine local black-metal lurkers Exhausted Prayer support, along with Gun Outfit. At East 7th Punx Warehouse, 1725 E. Seventh St., downtown, cheap.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the launch party for the momentous "Black SoCal" art exhibition that's being planned for the 2015 Venice Biennale, but it can't hurt to remind you, and Matt Duersten is just the dude to do the reminding, here.
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