5 Great Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week

The world's only heavy-metal mariachi band
The world's only heavy-metal mariachi band
Courtesy of Metalachi

In conjunction with its Hammer Conversations series, the Hammer Museum hosts a discussion with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, singer of British post-punk industrial band Throbbing Gristle, and Simon Reynolds, an L.A.-based music critic, author and former editor at Spin. The talk is in conjunction with the two-day "All the Instruments Agree: An Exhibition or a Concert," running Sept. 26-27, featuring more than two dozen acts at the border of art and music, including P-Orridge, Glitterbust, a new project by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Alex Knost, Egyptian Hassan Khan, choreographer Simone Forti, the Angeles Free Music Society and many others who will perform on two outdoor stages from noon to 10 p.m. each day. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.; free, tickets required. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Siran Babayan

The Mexican folk music of mariachi has become so iconic that it's hard to imagine this tradition as a product of cultural fusion: When Spanish colonizers introduced string instruments to Central America, indigenous musicians applied their own rhythms to the European violins, and mariachi was born. Today's version of that synthesis is Metalachi, the world's only heavy-metal mariachi band. These mariachi rockers will change your perception of the genre at this free show presented in conjunction with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes' "Corazón de la Comunidad: A Story of Mariachi in Los Angeles." The special exhibition, which highlights the diverse voices of mariachi in L.A., is on view through Jan. 11. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main St., downtown; Sat., Sept. 26, 7-10 p.m.; free. (888) 488-8038, lapca.org. —Sascha Bos

Crematory worker Caitlin Doughty presents Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory, the paperback edition of her wildly successful foray into the inner workings of how humans view and cope with death. The book delves into the history of cremation in particular and undertaking in general, while dealing with everything from finding cremains in one's clothes to figuring out how many bodies can fit into a Dodge van. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Mon., Sept. 28, 7 p.m.; free, book is $15.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —David Cotner

When actor Wendell Pierce and his family returned to his Pontchartrain Park home after Hurricane Katrina, he found it in ruins and under 14 feet of water. Pierce, known for The Wire, would eventually star in the New Orleans–set Treme and help rebuild his neighborhood. Tonight, Pierce discusses his memoir of that period, The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken, which includes an account of putting on a production of Waiting for Godot in his native city. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., Sept. 30, 7 p.m.; free, book is $27.95. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —David Cotner

Initially a sculptor, Japanese-born artist Yoshi Wada began his sound performances in the 1970s. He learned to play bagpipes and made his own instruments with reeds, pipes and an air compressor, naming one such instrument "the Elephantine Crocodile" and recording himself playing it in an empty swimming pool. Tom Johnson, a former critic for The Village Voice, said that visual spectacle was always a key part of the Wada experience. This weekend, the artist and his son, composer Tashi Wada, play at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. They'll be joined by two bagpipers, Megan Kenney and John Allan, and artist-percussionist Corey Fogel. 6300 Hetzler Rd., Culver City; Sun., Sept. 27, 5 p.m. (323) 960-5723, sassas.org.  –Catherine Wagley

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