From a King of Pop takeover of Motown on Monday to a Foo Fighters pop-up, a exploration of L.A. street art, the final Chinatown Summer Nights event of 2018, and the L.A. Phil's explosive performance of Tchaikovsky, here are the 14 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
Dancing in the Moonlight
A dance double-header this weekend brings two all-female shows to the al fresco Ford Amphitheatre. Friday and Saturday belong to Marjani Forté-Saunders, an alumna of Urban Bush Women who brings her Bessie Award–nominated Memoirs of a ... Unicorn. The highly personal evening-length solo performance has the audience seated onstage amid structures built by Tony Award–winning set designer Mimi Lien and the choreographer's Arkansas-born father, Rick Forté, who worked as a contractor and whose stories are the inspiration for the evening. On Sunday, and timed to coincide with a full moon's illumination, szalt performs Moon &. This is the fifth full-evening work by choreographer Stephanie Zaletel for her six-member, all-female contemporary troupe. The dancers will be backed by electro-acoustic composers Louis Lopez and Jonathan Snipes performing live. Zaletel and her troupe were selected by a panel of L.A. artists for this presentation as part of the Ford's Ignite @ the Ford! series. Ford Theatres, 2850 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood Hills. Marjani Forté-Saunders, Fri.-Sat., Aug. 24-25, 8:30 p.m.; $25. szalt, Sun., Aug. 26, 8:30 p.m.; $25-$45. (323) 461-3673, fordtheatres.org. —Ann Haskins
Foodies From Behind the Iron Curtain
The Wende Museum of the Cold War is a unique institution, founded to collect and preserve objects and images of Soviet society. It does this through not only fine art but also graphics and printed matter that outline the contours of the era's aesthetic, and the ways in which political and social messages were crafted, disseminated and subverted. But the Wende is more omnivorous in its collecting habits, with a trove of design objects from the industrial to the domestic, commercial to commemorative: artifacts of daily life that augment the high culture wars with insightful texture. One of its most popular exhibitions — Happy Hour at the Wende — is centered around midcentury Soviet foodie culture. In this spirit, the Wende offers a free-ranging lecture on alcohol consumption as depicted in its holdings and in art history, generally with suitably thematic adult beverages. And while you're there, be sure to check out the exhibits closing on Aug. 26. Wende Museum, 10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City; Fri., Aug. 24, 6-8 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (310) 216-1600, wendemuseum.org/programs/happy-hour-wende. —Shana Nys Dambrot
FOOD & DRINK
Gastronomic trailblazers, both national and local, and all-around excellent cookery touch down in the City of Angels during the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. Highlights of the event include a four-course lunch, a tag-team effort pairing Antonia Lofaso (Dama) and Aarón Sánchez of Food Channel fame and a massive wine tasting featuring more than 200 wines at the Barker Hangar, with plenty of bites and photo and signing opportunities for star-struck attendees. The prices may be a little steep, but if the roster is any indicator, it will be well worth it. Check schedule for locations and times. Downtown and Barker Hangar; Wed.-Sun., Aug. 22-26; prices vary. lafw.com. —Avery Bissett
Ending Summer With a Bang
Next month, L.A. Philharmonic celebrates its centennial with a range of fantastic and unusual events, including a special CicLAvia street festival that will connect the orchestra's two home bases, the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. But before the new season officially begins, conductor Gustavo Dudamel leads the band through one more big summertime bash — L.A. Phil's annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular with fireworks. Although the pyrotechnics display and a visit from the USC Trojan Marching Band will provide dramatic counterpoint to the Russian composer's brassy 1812 Overture, the real fireworks are in the way Dudamel artfully finesses Tchaikovsky's music, including adaptations of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet that feature such actors as Asia Kate Dillon, Ioan Gruffudd and Anika Noni Rose. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood Hills; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 24-25, 8 p.m.; $14-$195. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com. —Falling James
Los Angeles has a problem. We are sick individuals who eat up all things eerie, bloody and horrific. Well, a lot of us do, anyway. For hardcore horror fans, celebrating macabre culture once a year on Halloween just isn't enough, which is why there are so many conventions throughout the year geared toward scary imagery and entertainment. ScareLA is one of the biggest and best. Back in 2013 it was the first fan convention dedicated to Halloween, and even though it's faced some fiendish competition from other cons, the promoters strive to outdo themselves via weird workshops, creepy classes, impressive industry panels, haunted tours, screenings and more. This year the event will take place in a dark zone: Vendors and attractions will appear within the setting of a haunted experience, complete with mood lighting and pop-up scares. There will also be freaky VR fun, live dark bands and big names including renowned makeup artist Ve Neill, George Cameron Romero (son of the cinematic icon), John Murdy (creative director at Universal Studios' Horror Nights) and the queen of possession herself, Linda Blair. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Sat., Aug. 25, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 26, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; $35 and up. scarela.com. —Lina Lecaro
Head to Chinatown ... and Eat!
Don't miss this year's final Chinatown Summer Nights. The trifecta of events has featured a crowd-pleasing array of attractions and food, and this evening's lineup does not disappoint. Starting with food, because we all know what's best in life: Fluff Ice (which may be superior to even plain ol' ice cream in dealing with summer weather) and eye-popping and exquisite hot dogs from Tokyo Doggie Style will be among the food trucks present. Additionally, there will be a tribute to Jonathan Gold featuring Asian street food such as Hip Hot's big toothpick lamb and Good Gravy Baker's churros with Oolong custard. And when you're full, take in the live music or any number of wonderfully esoteric artistic displays, such as fruit carving, candy sculpting or calligraphy. Central Plaza, 943 N. Broadway, Chinatown; Sat., Aug. 25, 5 p.m.-mid.; free. chinatownsummernights.com. —Avery Bissett
The Broad sometimes seems more like a randomly assembled hodgepodge of its namesake Eli Broad's personal art collection than a thoughtfully curated museum, but the institution has mounted some interesting temporary exhibitions and ongoing programs. The Summer Happenings series often presents unusual combinations of personalities from the art and music worlds, and this evening's edition, "The Greater Body: Shi Dat," gathers together a fascinating assortment of creative types who evoke China in both traditional and modern ways. Performances by Beijing punk bands such as FAZI, Hell City and Shave 'n' Shut are juxtaposed with more experimental works by Yan Jun and Ji Dongyang, and the arty California ensemble Xiu Xiu were just added to a lineup that includes Re-TROS, Asian Dope Boys, Aïsha Devi and Daniel Collás. The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., Aug. 25, 8 p.m.; $30. (213) 232-6200, thebroad.org. —Falling James
Steve Grody has forgotten more about the history of graffiti and street art in L.A. than most people will ever know. Luckily for us, he's all about sharing his encyclopedic knowledge and enthusiastic insight with anyone who can keep up. His wildly popular Arts District walking tours guide people through the streets, alleys and indie venues that nurture and celebrate graffiti practitioners of all generations and styles. As part of the Cartwheel Art brain trust, offering context and analysis that help folks understand the deep significance and meaning of individual works and the whole movement, he literally conjures modern art history as he walks. Also, there's BBQ and a drawing session with UTI crew artist Nuke for those who find themselves inspired. Pearl's BBQ, 2143 Violet St., downtown; Sun., Aug. 26, 2-5 p.m., $58 (includes lunch). (213) 537-0687, eventbrite.com/e/graffiti-with-steve-grody-and-nuke-pearls-bbq-dtla-arts-district-tickets-48458844709?aff=ebdssbdestsearch. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Dave Grohl never does anything half-assed. Whether it be secret shows at tiny L.A. clubs to hype a new record, renting out the Forum to throw himself a rock star–packed birthday bash or re-creating a Woodstock-like rock concert from the '70s (CalJam, complete with a water park and camping), Grohl and his Foo Fighters are full-on, F-shit-up entertainers. Even those not sure yet about driving out to San Bernardino for the fest will want to hit the Cal Jam '18 Pop-Up at the Palladium on Saturday. The event is free, for all ages and packed with foo-bulous fun including FF merch and props (Dave's throne and white limo), plus food and drinks, and live performances by Taylor Hawkins' Chevy Metal and a mysterious act called The Holy Shits (Google it). Special discount ($49, no service fee) lawn tickets to Cal Jam will be available at the event. The Palladium, 6215 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., Aug. 26, 3-7 p.m.; free. facebook.com/events/2070054236360915. —Lina Lecaro
Michael Jackson's 60th birthday is Aug. 29, and Moonwalker, his cinematic musical anthology, marked its 30th anniversary this year. Motown on Monday, the long-running soul-dance shindig at the Short Stop, "wanna be startin' somethin' " to celebrate both, and they're even changing the event's name for this evening to Michael on Monday. It starts with a screening of the movie, followed by dancing to Monalisa, Jedi and Expo's off-the-wall hits sets, mixing in funky jams from MJ's friends and artists he influenced. Expect videos, a King of Pop photo booth (featuring album-cover backdrops), drink specials and a thriller night's worth of fun. The Short Stop, 1455 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Mon., Aug. 27, 8 p.m.-2 a.m.; free, 21+. eventbrite.com/e/michael-on-monday-mj-b-day-tribute-827-motown-on-mondays-la-tickets-48679531790. —Lina Lecaro
Check Your Voicemail
Modern communication revolves around emails, texts and social media — you probably only get calls from your doctor and your tech-challenged parents. But voicemails haven't completely gone the way of beepers and fax machines. Directed by Christine Bullen, The Truce: The Voicemail Show! reminds us that people still leave spoken words on our phones, and that they're often very funny. Karen Baughn, Geri Carrillo, Sara Clarke-Chan, David Danipour, Andrew Goldmeier, Madeleine Kang, Amber Kenny, Josh Krilov, Alex McCale, Charlie Mihelich and Michael Murphy, who perform monthly as sketch comedy team the Truce at ACME, crowdsourced actual voicemails — wrong numbers, sales calls, automated messages, drunk dials — from friends and family. Tonight, they perform the best of the worst, each followed by a sketch routine. You might not like to talk anymore but you can still listen. Comedy Central Stage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, Tue., Aug. 28, 8-9 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (323) 960-5519, comedycentralstage.com. —Siran Babayan
Considering that Carl Orff's 1936 cantata Carmina Burana was based on medieval poems written almost 800 years earlier, the choral piece has nonetheless remained compelling in the modern era. The work has been adapted in numerous formats, including a version by former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, but guest conductor Bramwell Tovey gathers together the L.A. Phil, a group of star vocalists and the combined forces of L.A. Master Chorale and L.A. Children's Chorus to revive the opus with full power. Pianist Emanuel Ax sets the mood first with a rendition of Beethoven's always-delightful Choral Fantasy. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood Hills; Tue., Aug. 28 & Thu., Aug. 30, 8 p.m.; $1-$158. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com. —Falling James
People sometimes forget that the very early punk-rock shows were much more diverse — both musically and racially — than the mostly male, white hardcore scene that followed in the early 1980s. Director James Spooner's 2004 documentary, Afro-Punk, points out that African-Americans were a major force in punk rock, even if they were often left out of the mostly white-centric histories of the era. While Spooner's documentary is by no means definitive and leaves out the crucial contributions of influential black punk rockers in L.A., for instance, it nonetheless highlights the startling impact of bands such as Bad Brains, who were faster, harder and more musically dexterous than their white rivals. Spooner, writer Tisa Bryant and the incisive critic Ernest Hardy discuss the film after a free screening. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Wed., Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2018/08/afro-punk/. —Falling James
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Fans of comedian-writer Adam Cayton-Holland know him best as Spanish teacher Loren Payton on truTV's Those Who Can't, which returns for a third season this fall. In the sitcom, Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy play self-absorbed and woefully dysfunctional teachers — they're the rotten apples, not the students — who wreak havoc at fictional Smoot High in Denver. (The series has featured nearly every big-name comedian as a guest star, including Rory Scovel, Patton Oswalt, Eddie Pepitone, Baron Vaughn, Mary Lynn Rajskub and the perpetually drunk Kyle Kinane.) This year, Cayton-Holland released his third stand-up album, Adam Cayton-Holland Performs His Signature Bits. He also published a new book, Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-Comic Memoir, which he discusses tonight. In the memoir, Cayton-Holland recounts his career and forming the Denver-based comedy trio The Grawlix but, more important, his relationship with his parents and two sisters, one of whom committed suicide in 2012. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Thu., Aug. 30, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —Siran Babayan