Summer concerts in Los Angeles: Critics' picks

Check out our critics' picks for must-see Summer concerts in Los Angeles, from big names such as Beyonce and Jay-Z to local favorites like Foxygen

Bob Weir & RatDog

Rhythm guitarist Bob Weir has gone through many a transformation since his days as one of the Grateful Dead's founding members (we can thank him for staples like "Truckin'," "Sugar Magnolia," and "Cassidy," among others). RatDog became Weir's main gig in the mid-90s, and for fifteen years, the rock outfit switched out dozens of notable band members, released two full-length albums and performed live shows the world over. After a three-year hiatus, the well traveled and ever-evolving road players are back in LA to perform what is now a snarling rock sound with jazz-influenced soul. Catch them at the Greek July 2.

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Greek Theatre

Death

Critics' pick

A black metal trio way ahead of its time when it sprang up in Detroit during the early ’70s, Death rose to rock icon status in the following decade. The band split over ten years ago, and even in their time, they went through a variety different members. But Death has returned in recent years to achieve widespread renown for its vintage work—and, impressively, has forged ahead with fresh material meant for a forthcoming album. They're headed to the Roxy this summer, where you can expect an array of pickings from their seven-album-strong back catalogue.

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The Roxy Theatre

90s Night Out

Calling all Angelenos born before 1987. This summer, the Greek Theater hosts an event catered precisely to those lusting after an era when Air Jordans were all the rage, when Full House ruled your Tuesday nights and when songs on the radio said more than "put your hands in the air." This July 5 is 90s night—a nostalgic fest of throwback performers, including Blackstreet, Jagged Edge, K-Ci & JoJo, After 7, Shai and Next. Ready to party like it's 1996? Snag your tickets here before they're all swept up.

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Greek Theatre

Cher

Well, this ought to be something... The omnitalented bombshell—a star for nearly five decades—returns to the arenas for her "Dressed to Kill" tour, supporting last year's auto-tune–drenched dance-pop beltfest, Closer to the Truth. The album hasn't yet spawned a "Believe," but lead track "Woman's World" did burn up the dance charts. On the strength of over-the-top razzle-dazzle, not to mention stylistic breadth and sheer megastar wattage, these gigs could be the pop spectacle of the year.

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Staples Center

Cloud Nothings

"I'm not telling you all I'm going through," Dylan Baldi repeats on "I'm Not Part of Me," the first single from Cloud Nothing's Here and Nowhere Else. But anyone with ears and the experience of being a teenager can tell you exactly what he's going through—pillow biting, knots in the gut, poetry writing. It's essential adolescent breakup stuff, shot through with fuzzy electricity by Baldi's precious Ohio pop-punk troupe, who hammer like kids injesting nothing but the Get Up Kids, coffee and the early Replacements. Watch it all go down at the group's three-show SoCal tour at the Roxy (Jul 8-9) and the Constellation Room (Jul 10).

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The Constellation Room

Aaron Embry

Critics' pick

We loved him as the pianist for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and now, we're growing downright hypnotized by the new version of Aaron Embry—that is, the solo version with a mouth organ between his lips, an arch top tenor guitar in hand. Inspired by years of nomadic wayfaring, not to mention 2011’s unforgettable Railroad Revival Tour, in addition to a history of recording and touring with the likes of Elliott Smith and Willie Nelson, the multi-instrustrument musician finally felt ready to strike out on his own path. The result? Tiny Prayers: a 10-track folk record, laden with simple song structures and dream-like acoustic stylings. Catch Aaron Embry and his smooth tunes at The Echo on July 9, before he becomes the indie music scene's next Bieber.

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Echo

Wye Oak

Named after the expansive Maryland state tree, this Baltimore duo plays sad-sack indie rock with heartstring-yanking touches of folk. The band's sound feels intimate, but not small, affording them slow claps from music reviewers like the A.V. Club and Pitchfork. Selections from their 2011 record, Civilian, have graced the soundtracks of shows such as "The Walking Dead" and "Being Human." The girl/boy pair is currently on tour to celebrate their new album, Shriek. If you missed them at this year's Coachella, July 10 at the El Rey is your chance to catch up.

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El Rey Theatre

Magic Man

Glitzy synth-rock fivesome Magic Man hits West Hollywood in support of its debut EP, You Are Here. Hailing from New England, the energetic quintet began with childhood buddies Alex Caplow (vocals) and Sam Vanderhoop Lee (guitar and keyboard). They traveled the world, sang for their supper, added another keyboardist and a drummer from college, and ba-da-bing—Magic Man. Their EP was released on Columbia Records last year, and a full length album is imminent. The group's show at the Troubadour is considered sold out, but you know where to look to snag yourself a ticket or two.

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Troubadour

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave hasn’t lost his flair for the down-and-dirty fury that defined his early work with the Birthday Party, which is evident on his band's latest release, 2013's Push the Sky Away, as well as at his live shows—can you name another 50-year-old man you’d like to hear describe a case of the “No Pussy Blues?” Check out the cult-favorite, Aussie alt-rockers for a two-show gig this July at The Shrine Auditorium and the Theater at the The Ace Hotel. Tickets for the latter are listed as sold out, but you'll likely find a few spares in all the usual places.

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Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

Jurassic 5

Jurassic 5 was part of the last wave of conscious rap to make it on major labels. The movement began with De La Soul in the late '80s and pretty much died in 2006, with J5's album Feedback. Now, Cut Chemist, Chali 2na and the rest of crew reunite for a headline tour. They only broke up in 2007, so we hadn't really even noticed they were gone, but it's nice to have their laid back, daisy age-style hip hop back nonetheless.

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Greek Theatre

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