As their 25th anniversary approaches next year, NorCal melodo-rockers Trapt find themselves in that parallel touring universe wherein formerly theater-filling bands — Trapt’s “Headstrong” single topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart in 2003 — headline clubs, with local acts often paying for the privilege of padding out bloated opening bills (in this case, no less than six support acts). Hailing from Los Gatos, one of America’s wealthiest cities, Trapt’s lyrical content has resonated with audiences who may have shared their comfortable yet sometimes spiritually unfulfilling experience, making them perhaps the ultimate suburban rock band of the aughts. But it’s their ear for a huge chorus and a road–honed work ethic that allowed Trapt to weather the massive industry upheavals of the 2000s, plus multiple lineup changes, to continue flying the flag for muscular, self-searching — and nowadays nostalgic — guitar rock. Malone’s, 604 E. Dyer Road, Santa Ana.
Keola Beamer with Moanalani Beamer
Slack-key guitar is an aural testament to Hawaii’s cultural history: an open-tuning, fingerstyle approach that adapted the playing of visiting paniolo Mexican cowboys in the late-19th century to the rhythms of Hawaiian dancing and the harmonic structures of pre-existing local music. Hailing from one of Hawaii’s most respected musical families, Keola Beamer and his younger brother Kapono together helped to define “Hawaiian contemporary” music in the 1970s and early ’80s by allowing their deep island roots to be influenced by folk-revival, Latin, pop and rock. Their super-mellow and sentimental ’78 release Honolulu City Lights remains one of the best-selling songs in Hawaiian music history, and was later covered by The Carpenters. At the Barclay Keola is joined by his wife Moanalani, a hula (Polynesian dance) master who provides accompanying movement, chanting, percussion, and background vocals. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine.
The apparent target of multiple shootings and a self-proclaimed “crack baby,” Young Dolph boasts immaculate gangsta rap credentials, which his actual shooting outside a Hollywood hotel in 2017 only enhanced. Dolph’s recordings milk this rep hard: ominous, chest-beating tales of street-life survival in his native Memphis characterized by endless references to drugs (“Everyday 420,” “Cut It”), conspicuous consumption (“Cutthroat Committee,” “By Mistake”) and guns (“Choppa On The Couch,” “Major”) alongside relentless misogyny (apparently dropping the word “bitch” over 100 times in his 20 most popular songs). The crafted menace of Young Dolph’s best work backs his head-tossing yet somehow fatalistic arrogance with insistent hi-hats and sparse kicks juxtaposed against incongruously airy keys. These brooding soundscapes brilliantly summon the sense-of-doom adrenaline of under-the-influence evenings stalked by impending violence. The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana.
The Glorious Sons
A chart fixture in their native Canada, The Glorious Sons are making stateside inroads with last year’s A War on Everything. Radio and stadium aspirations haunt the 14-song collection, the quintet reveling in the same robust, Southern-tinted sense of bluesy melody and harmony that has served the likes of Kings of Leon so well. Immaculately executed and produced, A War on Everything has an air of something created under pressure for commercial success, deftly flirting with a sufficient number of genres (including 1970s arena rock, country-lite and old-school soul) to touch a broad demographic at the expense of making a signature sonic statement. But originality isn’t everything, and The Glorious Sons nonetheless offer nostalgic kicks to almost anyone who’s ever been moved by an electric guitar or a spirited 4/4 groove. Yost Theater, 307 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana.
Both an expression and a product of his time, Nascar Aloe has brought his perpetually agitated, raw-throated rap/punk/metal melange to the masses mostly through self-uploading material to SoundCloud and YouTube. Emerging from North Carolina’s genre-blending underground rap scene (but now apparently L.A.-based), Aloe’s irate, finger-in-your-face rhythmic ranting will likely be largely alien, musically and lyrically, to anyone under 25 — and that’s precisely his appeal. This is deceptively hooky music that resonates with disaffected kids seeking escape in bass-heavy earphones in pitch-black rooms, or communion with the similarly misunderstood and disconnected at Aloe’s confrontational, chaotic (and, tellingly, usually all-ages) live performances. Young and chiseled beneath distinctively extravagant hair spikes, Nascar Aloe is a savvy Sid Vicious for the tech-neck generation — and about as punk as you can get with a phone in your hand. Constellation Room at The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana.
Tom Scott & the L.A. Express
Even if you’ve never heard of L.A. saxophonist/composer Tom Scott, you’ve almost certainly heard his work. As well as earning 13 Grammy nominations (including three wins) as a solo artist, his talents have graced diverse recordings by the likes of Michael Jackson (“Billie Jean”), Paul McCartney, Blondie (“Rapture”), Frank Sinatra and Pink Floyd. Scott was a founding member of the legendary Blues Brothers band (though he didn’t appear in their eponymous movies), and also composed the period–evocative theme songs for 1970s TV shows Starsky and Hutch and The Streets of San Francisco. Now in his seventies, Scott still brings it with the aptly-named L.A. Express (who themselves played on a number of Joni Mitchell albums), delivering the sort of slinkily impassioned performances that artists half his age can only aspire to. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine.
The Aggrolites have been reggae stalwarts since forming in 2002, not only in their own right but also as a backing band to the likes of Prince Buster, Tim Armstrong and Phyllis Dillon. Yet it had been eight years since they’d released a studio record of their own when these kings of “dirty reggae” — a signature combo of old-school skinhead reggae, 1960s soul, and funk — unleashed their crown-reclaiming (and aptly named) Reggae Now! last year. Defying the band’s tough-guy trappings — a skinhead–adjacent fashion sense, and the “aggro” of their name being British slang for “aggressive” — Reggae Now! is a Hammond organ–driven delight of sunny Caribbean escapism and dancehall nostalgia. The record is unlikely to change many opinions of The Aggrolites, but their rocksteady consistency is part of the quintet’s enduring allure. Gallagher’s Pub, 300 CA-1 Ste. 113, Huntington Beach.