5 Entertaining Things to Do in L.A. This Week for $12 or Less

The Santa Monica Pier, site of Twilight Concerts at the PierEXPAND
The Santa Monica Pier, site of Twilight Concerts at the Pier

After you've had your fun this Fourth of July weekend, why not keep the party going? This week, two free, summer-long festivals kick off: The Old Pasadena Film Festival and Twilight Concerts at the Pier.

Want more music? Check out two lesser-known movements: shoegaze, which is celebrated in a comprehensive documentary making its L.A. premiere this Thursday, and chiptune, an emerging genre inspired by the sounds of old-school video games.

And, just for fun, check out a free clown show — for adults! After all that grilling, firework-ing, and Amerikuh-ing, it's time to sit back and let yourself be entertained. 

5. Watch a Movie 
For a city recently dubbed the snobbiest in the nation by real estate know-it-alls Movoto, Pasadena offers an exceptionally awesome, monthlong summer film festival — free to the unwashed masses. Kicking off July 5 and running through July 27, Old Pasadena Film Festival has lined up 23 screenings, including family-friendly features (Moonrise Kingdom), classics (The Odd Couple), indies (Last Stop for Paul), classic romances (Lover Come Back), foreign films (Life Is Beautiful) and documentaries, brought to you by Conscientious Projector (Who Does She Think She Is?). This year’s festival pays special homage to vintage horror classics and science fiction, with fresh produce on a murderous rampage in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a science experiment gone awesomely wrong in The Fly, Academy Award–hogging Gravity and many more thrillers best screened in the company of other warm bodies. Most screenings are outdoors at Central Park or One Colorado, a beautiful courtyard venue surrounded by 19th-century architecture, in the heart of Old Town Pasadena, although there are also some unconventional indoor locals. You can bring your own picnic (booze is verboten). Also, in addition to the plethora of local restaurants offering takeout, food trucks will be on standby for the disorganized or kitchen-averse. Expect local DJs, trivia, giveaways and friendly, un-snobby folks having a good time. Multiple locations in Pasadena; Sat., July 5-Sun., July 27. See for complete schedule and locations. —Orly Minazad

4. Get Your Game On
Not only does 8-Bit Battle Royale! sound like the title of an ’80s movie but its premise reads like the plot of one, too: “Giant monsters have made their way up from a rift on the ocean floor and are wreaking havoc on the streets of L.A.! It’s up to a ragtag team of Chiptune bands to strike back!” Inspired by the console video games of the 1980s, 8-Bit is a bona fide cultural movement, with an aesthetic style that manifests in animation, street art and design, along with the robust sound-art and music genre known as Chiptune. Cheerful and nostalgic, the look is clunky, awkward, simplistic, colorful, pixelated and flat; it’s both cheeky and conceptual, sincere and ironic. Sometimes referred to as chip art, the process typically involves physically hacking the original electronics and bending their programming to an artist’s will. For example, Cory Arcangel created a video piece by stripping out everything from Super Mario Bros. except the clouds. In music, it can be a little crazier — especially for a live audience, which is in the offing for tonight’s high-stakes Arts District rumble. Think Battle of the Bands, except they call themselves teams and have names like Wizwars, Slime Girls! and Cyclops Rock. The organizers also promise visual artistry from a variety of 8-Bit luminaries, including something called “monster manipulation.” Let’s hope they save the world so we don’t all die virgins. Art Share L.A., 801 E. Fourth Place, dwntwn.; Sat., July 5; doors open 7:30 p.m.; event starts at 8 p.m.; $10. (213) 687-4278, —Shana Nys Dambrot

See also: 15 Things to Do in L.A. If You're Having a Bad Day

3. Clown Around
It’s really trendy to hate clowns right now, but rather than stop these comedic performers, the anti-clown backlash is pushing them to redefine what it means to be a clown. L.A-based theatrical production company Four Clowns isn’t about the typical balloon-twisting, birthday party bozos, who admittedly can be disturbing. Instead, it’s a troupe of approximately 25 performers who treat clowning as an advanced art form. Founder and artistic director Jeremy Aluma studied under David Bridel, director of USC’s MFA acting program and founder/artistic director of Four Clowns’ sister company, the Clown School. Four Clowns takes itself seriously — but not too seriously. Its repertoire is cleverly divided into adult and kid-friendly shows. Bridel’s new plays, Noah and Jonah, are for adults. These original works juxtapose God’s beleaguered acolyte Noah against shiftless Jonah, with each man illustrating different attitudes toward his uninvited responsibilities. In the end, both characters personify the clown as a fool, an archetype that has endured throughout history and isn’t going anywhere soon, no matter how bad your coulrophobia. Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica; Noah: Wed., July 9, Fri., July 11, and Thu., July 17, 4:30 p.m. Jonah: Thu., July 10, Wed., July 16, and Fri., July 18, 4:30 p.m.; free. Online reservations recommended. (310) 458-4904, —Tanja M. Laden

Keep reading for two more great events — including a free summer concert series you won't want to miss!

The Cocteau Twins, featured in Beautiful Noise.
The Cocteau Twins, featured in Beautiful Noise.
Kevin Davies

2. Catch a (Free) Concert
The Santa Monica Pier is perhaps the most iconic beachside monument in all of Los Angeles, and as a designated city landmark more than 100 years old, it certainly deserves the attention. Not only does the manmade jetty boast a 1920s carousel, aquarium, trapeze school and arcade but it’s nearly as attractive to tourists as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In what has become a summertime tradition, the Thursday Twilight Concerts at the Pier series invites visitors and locals alike to hit the sand for some of the best established and up-and-coming acts in town. Indie duo Cults, L.A.-based James Supercave and KCRW DJ Marion Hodges help kick off the festivities tonight. The 2014 season features a sizzling summer lineup, with headliners ranging from classic British rockers The Zombies to soul maestro Charles Bradley. World musicians include adult-contemporary artist Yuna (who was featured in L.A. Weekly’s 2014 People issue), Syrian electronic artist Omar Souleyman, Latin band La Santa Cecilia and West African reggae artist Lee “Scratch” Perry. Then there are the straight-up rock musicians, such as Santa Monica’s own Zach Yudin, aka Cayucas, and Australia’s Jagwar Ma. An assortment of KCRW DJs spins throughout the season as well. So pack a picnic and sit back and relax on the sand while listening to the lazy, hazy, crazy tunes of summer. Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; Thursdays, July 10-Sept. 11, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 458-8900, —T.M.L.

See also: Best Fourth of July Fireworks in L.A. for Whatever Your Scene

1. Gaze at Shoegaze
Before grunge and Britpop’s rock-star antics took over in the mid-’90s, shoegaze was alternative music’s gentle giant: soft-spoken, noncommercial and, depending on the band, unbearably loud. For fans of the era, from its inception in the late 1980s to its resurgence with newer artists, L.A. filmmaker Eric Green’s new documentary, Beautiful Noise, is an aural gift. Nearly a decade in the making and funded by Kickstarter, the movie tracks the history of the movement — which Creation Records founder Alan McGee aptly called “the marriage of punk and psychedelia” — via concert footage, videos and interviews with Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid and Douglas Hart, as well as members of Slowdive, Swervedriver, Ride and Lush. Listening to Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan and The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne gushing over albums like Loveless and Psychocandy is a treat; even better is The Cure’s Robert Smith talking about listening to The Cocteau Twins’ Treasure while getting ready on his wedding day. Sadly, there’s no interview with ever-elusive singer Elizabeth Fraser, but the film is as close as you’ll get to hearing The Cocteau Twins in a theater. Cinefamily screens the L.A. premiere as part of its Don’t Knock the Rock festival, with Green and producer Sarah Ogletree in person. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District; Thu., July 10, 7:30 p.m; $12. (323) 655-2510,—Siran Babayan

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Use Current Location

Related Locations

Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre

611 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90048


Santa Monica Pier

200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401


Annenberg Community Beach House

415 Pacific Coast Highway
Santa Monica, CA 90402


Art Share L.A.

801 E. Fourth Place
Los Angeles, CA 90013


Twilight Dance Series at the Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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