The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Weekend

See Friday: Katy Perry
See Friday: Katy Perry
Photo courtesy of Ten Minute Media

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Friday, September 19

Katy Perry, Tegan and Sara
STAPLES CENTER
Katy Perry has long been a fascinating paradox. “I’m capable of anything and everything,” she simultaneously brags and warns on “Dark Horse,” from her fourth and latest album, Prism. Such seemingly limitless pop potential also has been the Santa Barbara singer’s curse. The onetime Katy Hudson was already a charismatic performer when she was still a “good” Christian folk singer appearing in local coffeehouses, and she’s just as captivating now as a “bad” sex symbol gussied up with slick pop arrangements and decked out in fantastic cupcake costumes. Perry’s ongoing dilemma is how to reconcile her serious creative instincts with the artifice and plastic production in which she’s often encased, which could be why she’s chosen to tour with Tegan and Sara, the thoughtful Canadian duo who balance folk influences with commercial hooks. Also Saturday, Sept. 20. —Falling James

Angel City Jazz Festival
VARIOUS LOCATIONS
This now-venerable event offers L.A. jazzheads a rare-ish chance to savor and learn from the cream of the progressive-jazz crop. Scheduled stalwart guardians of jazz’s future include NEA Jazz Masters Anthony Braxton and Toshiko Akiyoshi, pianist Craig Taborn, trumpeter-composers Wadada Leo Smith and Bobby Bradford, multi-brass/reeds boss Vinny Golia, sax man Azar Lawrence and a mind-blowing host of others. The festival is held at various fine venues around the city, including REDCAT, the Blue Whale, LACMA, the Aratani/Japan America Theatre and Barnsdall Art Park, where it wraps up on Sunday, Sept. 28, with an all-day, free event on two stages, accompanied by food, beer, wine and sunshine. For a complete schedule, go to angelcityjazz.com. Also Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 25-28. —John Payne

Upcoming Events

Ides of Gemini
COMPLEX
This Los Angeles power trio conjures up heavily psychedelic drone rock on its second album, Old World New Wave. The centerpiece of this arrangement is bassist/vocalist Sera Timms, also of similarly psychedelic locals Black Math Horseman. Timms has a hearty bellow, which does not change much in register. Within the framework of Ides of Gemini, that’s a positive. Her roars add a ghostly, goth-rock vibe to the already spirit-conjuring, Sabbath-y riffs of guitarist J. Bennett. Their approach would not be as hypnotic without the earth-shattering drums of Kelly Johnston-Gibson, whose drumming style places greater emphasis on raw power than flash, with every beat of the skins shaking the Richter scale. The band’s newer material is a little catchier than their previous work, but that just adds more power to their sound. —Jason Roche

Saturday, September 20

Sunset Strip Music Festival
SUNSET STRIP
Over the last seven years, the Sunset Strip Music Festival has gone from veteran, hard-rock Strip bands to indie-oriented, international acts whose reputations weren’t established 30 years ago. The intention of the festival remains the same: the preservation and promotion of the legendary, raunchy reputation of the Strip. Festivalgoers will oscillate between the Roxy, Whisky A Go Go and three outdoor stages, one of which is curated by Murs and features hip-hop. Australia’s Empire of the Sun brings its Technicolor production to headline Sunday, offsetting homegrown Jane’s Addiction’s gritty and visceral presentation headlining Saturday. Strip originals L.A. Guns grace the Whisky stage on day one, which also features modern-day rockers Nightmare and the Cat and rabble-rousing MC Riff Raff. On day two, soul crooner Mayer Hawthorne contrasts against the party-starting Destructo, the soft pop of Sweden’s Tove Lo and the electropop of the U.K.’s Fenech-Soler. —Lily Moayeri

  Bedrocktoberfest with ?Head Wound City
BEDROCK.LA
Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner takes over Echo Park’s “massive music mecca” Bedrock.LA as he curates the second annual Bedrocktoberfest. The complete lineup had yet to be revealed at press time but the few acts that have been announced are reason enough to check it out: Deap Vally and Cherry Glazerr, local garage rockers who have blown up this year; Black Sabbitch, a scorching, all-female tribute to the heaviest metalers in history; and a rare performance by Head Wound City, a band that’s part San Diego grindcore group The Locust, part Seattle post-hardcore legends The Blood Brothers (who also recently reunited for FYF this year) and Zinner himself on guitar. There also will be beer, food trucks and magic curated by the Academy of Magical Arts, aka Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle. All this and more for just five bucks. —Artemis Thomas-Hansard

Bobby McFerrin
THE BROAD STAGE
Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage kicks off its 2014-15 jazz series with the human instrument extraordinaire, Bobby McFerrin. Since achieving unexpected worldwide fame with his 1988 tune “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” McFerrin has gone on to perform and record with major artists including Chick Corea, Yo-Yo Ma and Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, as well doing numerous recordings for film, television and children. Between 1985 and 1993, McFerrin amassed 10 Grammy Awards. His solo performances often display his unique skill set combined with a high level of audience participation. His latest recording, Spirityouall, offers a selection of spiritual and gospel songs, including original compositions, Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and traditional hymns such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” —Tom Meek

Miranda Lee Richards, ?Bart Davenport, Paula Frazer
HM157
Miranda Lee Richards is that rarity among singer-songwriters, able to coo beautifully lulling ballads without drifting off into easy-listening bathos. She once sang the most endearingly spectral version of “Dandelion” this side of The Rolling Stones, and her gentle, original songs on 2001’s The Hereafter and 2009’s Light of X evoke dreamily pastoral wonderlands infused with hints of mystery and sadness. You can hear Richards’ inspirations Mazzy Star and Neil Young in her low-key delivery and loping chords, but then she opens up with a soaring, radiant voice that’s all her own, glowing like a desert sun. Bart Davenport cuts right through with a ruefully charming voice that sounds like a more soulful, less solipsistic version of Morrissey, draped in ’60s-pop arrangements. Tarnation’s Paula Frazer summons ghosts with her eerie Ozark lamentations. —Falling James

Sunday, September 21

Meshell Ndegeocello
EL REY
Meshell Ndegeocello has so many ways of getting through to you. She’s an utterly sublime bassist who can seamlessly cover the waterfront of jazz, funk and soul before floating off into pure psychedelia. She’s an enchanting vocalist who can soothe with her tone while startling you with her frank yet poetic lyrics. She’s bold enough to stand her ground against her former champion, Madonna, and flexible enough to have collaborated with John Mellencamp, Basement Jaxx, The Rolling Stones and The Blind Boys of Alabama. From the soul-deep entreaties of her 1993 debut album, Plantation Lullabies, to the spaced-out jazz-reggae idylls on her latest release, Comet, Come to Me, Ndegeocello always manages to be confrontational and fearless, even as her music shape-shifts through various layers of dreamy hypnosis. —Falling James

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