Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Review: Kanye West & Jay-Z's 'Watch The Throne' at Staples Center

via Dane Cook on Twitter

Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch The Throne" concert at Staples Center, Dec. 12, 2011.

It would be easy (and almost necessary) to spill an ocean of superlatives in trying to adequately explain the enormity of this entire Watch The Throne endeavor. Sure, it’s easy to chalk it up as a couple of 1 Percenters flexing their considerable industry muscle, and that’s a part of it.

Only a few songs into Monday night’s sold out show, it was apparent that this bombastic display of hip-hop’s considerable hold on the pop cultural zeitgeist was more than just a good time. It was one of the most impressively produced stadium shows, well, ever. The Staples Center was transformed into something of a giant boxing ring, with Jay-Z and Kanye West standing atop two massive hydraulic LED stages to open the show with a flurry of songs from the Watch The Throne album. The spectacle was akin to a rap Metallica (and just as loud), with both men ripping through verses from “Welcome To The Jungle” with ease and dexterity that transcends 99.5% of what passes for “rapping” these days. Flames towers erupted behind them at regular intervals, and the blinding laser light show was equal parts Daft Punk and Pink Floyd.

Read More...

On the road with singer-songwriter David Bazan

Kevin Lloyd/KPCC

David Bazan in an Aliso Viejo park.

Indie singer-songwriter David Bazan played a house show in Aliso Viejo Tuesday night. It's an example of the intimate connection he makes with fans both as a person and through his music, exploring topics like religion and political disillusionment in a deeply personal way.

Part of the way he connects with fans is by doing small house shows on his Living Room tours. He tours by himself, without a band, playing acoustic shows hosted by fans in their living rooms. The shows almost always sell out relatively quickly, as they're kept small due to the intimate venues. The sales are all done through Paypal. "I feel like the people that are at the shows have a good experience, and it builds trust."

Bazan says that doing these shows lets him come back to the same area more frequently than if he were to perform with his band at a rock club. He says he can do his solo tour in his van for under $100 a day, and gets a much higher percentage of tickets per person. "A lot of the things [I] do are geared so the pressure of money isn't the first thing on my mind."

Read More...

Tony Bennett performs at Staples Center for AARP hunger benefit

Tony Bennett's 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Tony Bennett performs during his 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts at The Metropolitan Opera House on September 18, 2011 in New York City.

Tony Bennett performed Saturday night at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The concert was sponsored by AARP and benefited Drive to End Hunger, an effort to end hunger among older Americans. The venue was far from full, with the third level trapped off and large sections of open seats in the 100 level, as well as some open sections in the 200 level. The charity event likely made a good deal of money though, particularly thanks to tables in front of the stage with tickets coming in at over $1,500.

The event featured a special guest appearance by Stevie Wonder. Bennett introduced Wonder by saying, "He's a genius, and I don't use that word loosely." Wonder said he first heard Bennett sing when he was 14, and heard a song he fell in love with - "For Once In My Life." Bennett and Wonder dueted on that song, which Bennett had sung and Wonder later took and made into a hit himself. They'd also recorded a duet of the song for Bennett's first "Duets" album.

Read More...

Sunset Junction canceled - No Hanson for you

With the latest Los Angeles Board of Public Works decision to deny Silver Lake's Sunset Junction a permit for this weekend, it looks unlikely that the festival is going to go on. What will hipsters do without L.A.'s mini-Coachella?

Personally, I love festival shows. (Well, except for that one I got appendicitis during, but most concert festivals.) I had yet to make it out to Sunset Junction since I moved to L.A., but had a conversation last weekend with a friend about a band I inexplicably love - Hanson.

Amidst all the indie darlings playing Sunset Junction, one of Sunday's headliners was scheduled to be... Hanson. While most likely remember them as a one-hit wonder for "MMMBop," they had a number of other singles that charted, with particularly strong performances in Australia and the United Kingdom (the home of pop music love).

Read More...

Katy Perry & Rebecca Black duet on 'Friday' in LA, ballad-style

At Katy Perry's Friday night L.A. concert, she welcomed very special surprise guest Rebecca Black to do a duet of Black's song "Friday." Perry introduced her as "the infamous Rebecca Black," which sounds about right.

Black also appeared in the music video for Perry's recent single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)." They slowed "Friday" down for a brief pairing and shared about a minute-and-a-half of stage time. (I mean, come on, she's still Rebecca Black.) Perry closed the segment by yelling "I love the Internet!"

(via Vulture)

Watch Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)":

Read More...