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    Broken Bells Debut New Songs at L.A. Showcase

    "I think some of you are too familiar with some of these songs," James Mercer said with a knowing smile, acknowledging the packed room at Los Angeles' Bootleg Theater on Friday night. Imagine that. In the day when music seems to be teleported straight from the studio mixing console to fans' iPods, fans are singing along to songs before they're even released. Truth be told, however, the crowd for the surprise live debut of Broken Bells - the buzzed-about collaboration between Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) and the Shins' Mercer - was so thick with VIPs and friends of the band that cheers of recognition should have come as no surprise. Performing in front of abstract, astral video projections, the duo, the focal points of a six-piece band, delivered a glistening set of ambient pop capped by Mercer's pristine tenor.

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    Grammys: Wilco, Chili Peppers, Norah Jones Honor Neil Young

    Old friends took a look at Neil Young's life on Friday night, and by the time the dinner concert honoring him as the MusiCares 2010 Person of the Year was over, there wasn't merely a lot of love for the 64-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, but a lot of cash raised for the Recording Academy's charity. The well-heeled Grammy-weekend crowd in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center was treated to gripping performances of Young classics by the likes of Elton John, Wilco, Norah Jones, Dave Matthews and Ben Harper; a heartrending finale by Shakey's old bandmates Crosby, Stills & Nash; and enough genuflecting to make fans think flannel is the new formalwear. Maybe owing to the occasion, most of the performances found their warm-and-fuzzies in the folkier pages of Young's catalog, with few taking on the feral intensity of his rock work.

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    Frank Black & Friends Rock L.A. Benefit Concert

    More than the music -- which was nothing short of spectacular -- Tuesday night's sold-out Winston Calling benefit concert at the Echoplex in Los Angeles was about random acts of kindness. How else to explain all the heavy hitters taking the lead of Pixies frontman Frank Black (a.k.a.

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    Julian Casablancas Launches L.A. Residency

    If this pop star thing doesn't work out, Julian Casablancas has a great future as a production designer. The 31-year-old Strokes frontman unveiled his synth-pop side with a splash on Friday night, kicking off a four-week residency behind his solo album Phrazes for the Young with a performance at Los Angeles' Downtown Palace Theatre that was visually stunning, if a bit sonically oppressive. The sliding murals behind Casablancas' seven-piece band flowed with landscapes, cityscapes, waterscapes, dreamscapes, kaleidoscopic projections and post-apocalpytic montages - a very "Old Hollywood" setting for the rocker's new persona. The sets were conceived by Casablancas himself, in conjunction with art director/production designer Keith Greco, who has worked with Cirque du Soleil, among others.

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    Pixies Play Complete 'Doolittle' Album

    At the Pixies' Hollywood Palladium show on Wednesday night, the sold-out crowd of 4,000 seemed caught between genuflecting respectfully and just going nuts. Kicking off a 21-date U.S. tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their thorny masterwork Doolittle, the alt-rock icons performed the album start-to-finish in the form of an edgy history lesson, with the students devotedly trying to keep up. Doolittle, along with the rest of the band's legend, has only grown in stature over two decades, its sonic adventurousness and dark, abrasive personality seeping into the bloodlines of countless rockers to follow.

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    Tegan and Sara Launch Mini-Tour in L.A.

    Tegan and Sara's new album is all about interpersonal tug-of-wars -- the occasionally opposing forces of remaining true to oneself and another -- but there was no doubt Sunday night that the band and their fans were all pulling in the same direction. The Quin twins kicked off their live blitz for Sainthood (due Tuesday on Sire/Vapor Records) by regaling adoring fans at the sold-out Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles with their Canadian charm and characteristic chattiness. Oh, and they played Sainthood in its entirety too. "I don't care if you like it," Sara said, introducing a seven-song stretch of new material 15 minutes into the show, "I just need you to act like you do." No problem there. Ten years and six albums into their career, the 29-year-olds feed their fans' ardor like talk radio hosts.

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    Thom Yorke Debuts All-Star Band at Secret Show

    In baseball terms, attending Thom Yorke's "rehearsal" show on Friday night at the Echoplex in Los Angeles was like showing up at the stadium early to watch a slugger hit home runs in batting practice. If only the Radiohead frontman can hit one out of the park Sunday and Monday when his newly formed all-star quintet -- including Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, and Mauro Refosco -- performs at the Orpheum Theatre. Echoplex is decidedly a club, and Yorke played it like a club show, feeding off the energy of the crowd of about 600, sweating through two shirts and putting on an admirable display of stage aerobics. The 90-minute set was the opposite of cerebral, unless you count the sight of Flea playing a melodica.

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    Paramore's Tour Opener Mixes Joy and Disappointment

    On a day Hayley Williams should have been so happy shecould just scream, the 20-year-old Paramore singer could barelymanage a yelp. Her voice hurt too much. See our photo gallery of the show here. The newly blonde Williams, kicking off a 19-date U.S. tourwith her Nashville quintet on the day its third album, "Brand NewEyes," was released, departed the stage frustrated Tuesday night afteronly 11 songs and 37 minutes, her pipes shot. After an uncomfortable five minutes, guitarist Josh Farro(who was celebrating his 22nd birthday) led his singer-less bandmatesback onstage and addressed the standing-room-only crowd at the FoxTheater in Pomona, 35 miles east of Los Angeles. "We have a slight issue," he said. "Hayley's voice isshot, completely gone. She's upset - she feels like she let you guys down.But we're gonna play some music for you and you guys can sing." And sing the crowd did.

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    Bon Iver Play Surreal Sunrise Cemetery Gig

    What if they held a sunrise concert and everybody showed up except the sun? "Metaphorically and un-metaphorically," frontman Justin Vernon of Bon Iver told a crowd of more than 2,500 beneath a damp, ashen Los Angeles sky, "this is one of the foggiest mornings I've ever experienced." That the setting was the lawn of the 110-year-old Hollywood Forever Cemetery - final resting place of the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille and Johnny Ramone - only added to the haze. Even at only 70 minutes long, Bon Iver's set proved at once serene and surreal, a true only-in-L.A. experience. Oh, you're doing an overnighter in graveyard? Yeah. And they're screening Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket on the exterior wall of a mausoleum at 2 A.M.? Uh-huh. And there'll be a blessing-of-the-crowd ceremony by Buddhist monks at 5:30? Yep. And then a band will play?

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    Nine Inch Nails Get Emotional At Final Show Ever

    As goodbyes go, Nine Inch Nails' farewell-to-touring concert on Thursday night at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles was an aural bear hug. Followed by a firm handshake, a high five and a rap on the cheek - the kind of prolonged, reluctant send-off you get from a man's man. "This is it," frontman Trent Reznor told the packed house a half-hour into the performance. "I haven't had a chance to catch my breath and think about things ... I'm kinda sad. But I'm not gonna break down in tears just yet." These were the tracks of his tears - 37 songs that spanned Reznor's two-decade career as sonic explorer and touchstone for the disenfranchised, played pristinely to an adoring, sing-along throng in a 2,200-capacity Art Deco theater.

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