Breakestra began its life more as a concept than a band: Initially, the collective was primarily a live group that would recreate classic hip-hop breaks onstage. Their shows operated almost like a long, seamless DJ set. The idea quickly caught on amongst L.A. hip-hop heads, who began frequenting Root Down, a club night founded by leader and multi-instrumentalist Miles Tackett that served as a headquarters for underground heroes such as Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples and DJ Shadow. Eventually, though, the band found its way into a studio. Hit The Floor dropped in 2005 and proved that the years Tackett and his crew spent honing their chops mastering classic breaks on the live front allowed to create their own authentically funky breaks. Today, Breakestra remains one of the strongest live groups around, able to whip a dance floor into a frenzy at the drop of a hat, needle, or deliciously groovy drum-break. And who better to celebrate New Year’s Eve with than a band that can do that? They welcome 2008 at Zanzibar in Santa Monica.
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Busdriver Coming down fast like the speed-talking John “Mighty Mouth” Moschitta, Busdriver’s flow is more like synaptic hyper-acceleration than a straight-ahead represen-tation of hip-hop. The rhymes could be the rantings of a homeless person who, with a Bluetooth in his ear, becomes elevated to the level of “street poet.” While the critics have attempted to align Busdriver’s delivery with dada or surrealism, it is in fact most closely related to sound poetry insofar as the words just fly past. Reduced almost to base noise but retaining the suggestion of meaning, repeat listenings of his latest record, RoadKill-Overcoat, are recommended to catch the things missed the first time out. Think of it as Airplane! with hints of François Dufrêne. All academia aside, yes, there are the pant-shaking dance numbers, including the “The Troglodyte Wins,” and “Go Slow,” featuring Bianca Casady of CocoRosie. And no, there is no bling, apart from the shimmering production values courtesy of Los Angeles’ DJ Nobody and producer Boom Bip. Busdriver performs at the Troubadour on Dec. 21. (David Cotner)
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Les Savy Fav Together over 10 years, Les Savy Fav is among the longest running — and perhaps the strangest — institutions in indie rock. Fronted by Tim Harrington, a bearded mountain of a man with an intellectual streak to match, the band’s music is difficult to categorize simply, an amalgam of angular, post-punk arrangements and artsy affectations, a testament to their formation point, the Rhode Island School of Design. But where the group truly stands out is Harrington deceptively scholarly lyrics. Over the course of six albums, the singer has touched on everything from Stockholm syndrome to the architects of Carthage. So watching these beastly monstrosities’ legendary live show is not only entertaining — it’s educational. Smarten up when Les Savy Fav plays the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on Dec. 15.
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Warren Zevon Tribute One of the most exciting musical events of the year is taking place this weekend in the most unlikeliest of places, the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez. That’s where a host of artists will be descending in an almost secret fashion to pay tribute to the late singer-songwriter, Warren Zevon. The brainchild of Karen Jones, a self-proclaimed “Warren Zevon stalker,” she has put together a truly remarkable lineup of Zevon’s fans, friends and even family, with proceeds from the show benefiting the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame), local rock star children Nathan McEuen (son of Nitty Gritty Band man John McEuen), Crosby Loggins (son of Kenny Loggins) and Jesse Siebenberg (son of Supertramp’s Bob Siebenberg), former Zevon tour mates Phil Cody and Matt Cartsonis and even Warren’s own son, Jordan, will take turns covering songs from the Excitable Boy’s deep catalog. What’s got insiders buzzing, thoug,h is talk of some serious surprise guests. Though none are officially confirmed for the event it’s a well known fact that Zevon was friends with a host of California rock royalty, including Jackson Browne, David Lindley, the Eagles and Linda Rondstandt, some of whom just happen to live in the area. It promises to be a truly special event fitting for one America’s most underrated songwriters. Not to be missed.
Maverick Saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, (805) 688-7786