September 16, 2020 at 7:53 am PDT | by John Paul King
Arts and culture for a pandemic-weary LA
fall arts music

Perfume Genius plays LA’s Palace Theater and you can watch online. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

If you’re a fan of live arts and music, it won’t be news to you that such enrichments to our lifestyles, like everything else that involves people gathering together in person, have been turned into a bittersweet memory – at least for now – by the ongoing pandemic.

It should go without saying, then, that this fall’s lineup for LA’s art and performance scene won’t include the usual gala premieres, Broadway imports, benefit concerts, music or theater festivals — you get the idea. Instead, most of the city’s big cultural arts institutions – Center Theatre Group, the Geffen, the LA Phil, the Wallis, GMCLA and all the rest – are looking ahead, working on strategies to evolve in a post-COVID world, while offering various virtual treats to culture-hungry subscribers via their websites in the meantime.

While there is some exciting content on tap from each and every one of those organizations (which the Blade heartily encourages you to explore), the online experience – especially after six months of livestreams and binge watching – is likely to leave most of us still yearning for something a little more special.

With that in mind, here’s a list of sort-of-in-person events still slated to take place this fall. Even if we can’t really have the full course when it comes to live entertainment and culture, we can at least have a taste to hold us over for the duration – and each of these strikes us as expressing the unique spirit and character of Los Angeles in some essential way.

The Ford’s Summer Season, Sept. 17-Dec. 8

This year marked the first summer that the LA Phil is tackling the programming at the Ford; it didn’t go according to plan. But the show must go on, and so, now, is the Ford’s season— online, at least. Originally supposed to be a centennial celebration for the outdoor venue, the season now includes four main streaming series, all available for free: “Ford Digital Festivals,” which use performances and discussions to tackle topics like wellness in communities of color and contemporary Native artistry; “L.A. Soundscapes,” a combo lecture and family-friendly crafting workshop; “State of L.A.!,” which spotlights up-and-coming figures in the L.A. arts scene with conversations and performances; and “From the Ford,” an archive of footage from previous shows at the venue that includes TAIKOPROJECT and Lula Washington Dance Theater, among others. Visit theford.com for more details.

Perfume Genius, Sept. 19

The delicately melancholic, queer singer-songwriter (his real name is Mike Hadreas, and his track, “Queen,” is already iconic) has evolved over the course of a relatively short career from a dark, minimalist sound to a scaled-up tonal palette that offers grandiose crescendos, glitzy synth shimmer, and an exuberant sense of uplift. His most recent album, “Set My Heart On Fire Immediately,” debuted into the tour-less world of COVID, but now he has the chance to play the tracks with his band in a live setting – for the first time – from the stage of LA’s Palace Theater, and even if audiences can’t be there in person, it’s still a chance to get the kind of in-the-moment excitement of experiencing talented musicians do their thing in one of Los Angeles’ classic venues. For an extra five bucks, fans can enjoy a special solo acoustic after show performance from singer-songwriter, too.
Visit stgpresents.org for tickets and details.

Late Night Drive-In Movies, Andaz West Hollywood, Sept. 18-Oct. 10

Movies qualify as art anywhere – but that’s especially true in LA, and one of the few good things about 2020 is the return of the drive-in. Just like old times, you can watch a movie from the comfort (and virus-free safety) of your car – and while there you can find plenty of pop-up drive-ins happening all over LA with just a quick search on sites like Timeout or Eventbrite (or even Facebook’s Events page), there’s something about the idea of watching screenings and comedy shows from smack dab in the middle of the Sunset Strip that seems like a quintessentially LA experience. A mix of ’70s classics alongside tales of counterculture and rebellion will be offered, in partnership with civic engagement group YEA! Impact, and each event comes with the option to order off of the Andaz menu, if you’re hungry. You’ll find the screenings atop the third level of the hotel’s open-air parking garage.
Visit latenightdrivein.cargo.site for the details.

World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl

Radio Broadcast Series, Sept. 20-Oct. 11

Wish you could relive one of your favorite shows at the Hollywood Bowl? Or missed out on what ended up being a classic concert? KCRW and the LA Phil are giving you a chance to step back in time with these radio broadcasts of sets from the past decade. Each Sunday from 6:30-8 p.m., KCRW will present highlights from its World Festival series, including archived recordings from Kraftwerk, Blondie, Santigold, Janelle Monáe, Robyn, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sigur Rós, St. Vincent and more. You can catch each broadcast on-air at 89.9, or streaming on KCRW’s site and app. Get the schedule at the Hollywood Bowl website.

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Sept. 24-Oct. 31

This annual film festival—now in its 36th year—simultaneously celebrates and launches the careers of Asian and Asian-American filmmakers. For this virtual edition, the fest expands to five weekends with streaming Q&As and movies from more than 225 filmmakers. In a season where anti-Asian American sentiment and violence is alarmingly on the rise, LAAPFF’s programming hopes to mobilize and engage audiences towards social activism and civic engagement – a cornerstone that is part of the Festival’s foundation. This year’s productions by Asian American & Pacific Islander artists from across the globe will amplify themes, including race, immigration, gentrification/economic security, and the upcoming US election.The Festival will be presented online to stay in guidelines that protect the health and safety of the Festival community.

Visit the Festival’s website at vcmedia.org for details about the lineup, venues, schedule, and tickets.

The Drag, Sept. 26-27

While most theater-lovers are by now getting their fix via subscriptions to Broadway.com and other such plays-on-screen sites, this livestreamed play reading is of special interest to fans of LGBTQ theatre, not to mention hidden queer history and the Golden Era of Hollywood itself. Subtitled “A Homosexual Comedy in Three Acts,” it was written by Mae West under the pseudonym Jane Mast before she became a blockbuster Hollywood star. With a closeted gay socialite for a hero, this comedy about the cost of living a secret life enthralled and scandalized, audiences in theatres when it opened in 1927, and performances were shut down by authorities for portraying homosexuality and drag queens before the show could make it to Broadway, as West had hoped. This ahead-of-its time piece of queer and Hollywood history will get live readings from LA’s Classical Theatre Lab in two performances, presented by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and offered to the public free of charge – though donations are accepted, if you’re able.
Tickets can be reserved at classicaltheatrelab.org.

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