The LA Setlist: June 3-8, 2024

The Best Los Angeles Concerts

Janet Jackson at the Kia Forum
Janet Jackson: Together Again | Photo: Kia Forum

Summer is here, which means that outdoor music venues are in full swing in LA's almost guaranteed good weather. For many, the iconic Hollywood Bowl is a bucket list destination in itself, In June, this historic amphitheater will host the fantasy Mexican rock pairing of Caifanes and Café Tacuba co-headlining on June 5 (see below), Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival on June 15 and 16, The Roots on June 27, and many more. The Greek Theatre is often compared to a mini Hollywood Bowl (the former holds 5,900 people, the latter 17,500), and the two indeed share bucolic hillside settings and unusually civilized facilities. In June, the Greek hosts the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen on June 8 (see below), the Tedeschi Trucks Band on the 7th and 9th, and Third Eye Blind on June 20. Of course, LA’s myriad indoor venues, spanning hole-in-the-wall dives and storied clubs to stately theaters and sleek arenas, continue to boast packed calendars year-round. Here are a dozen shows, outdoor and in, that merit a Los Angeles visit, June 3-8.

Zach Bryan: The Quittin Time Tour at Arena
Zach Bryan: The Quittin Time Tour | Photo: Arena

Zach Bryan - Arena (June 3-4)

Less than five years since his first public performance, red dirt upstart Zach Bryan is headlining two nights at the 20,000-capacity Arena. While most musicians of this status spent their early adulthood furiously hustling and networking, Bryan, now 28, was serving in the U.S. Navy. This unhurried authenticity has served him well, waiting till he really had something to say before even trying to say it (his 2019 debut album was dedicated to his late mother) and traveling the world before sharing anything with it. Having found an audience through self-recorded YouTube content, Bryan has continued to do things his way, breaking through with the American Heartbreak triple album in 2022. It all came together on the earnest and literary heartland Americana of his eponymous chart topper last year, a record made strictly for himself which, precisely because of this approach, resonates with millions. Tickets at AXS.

Soccer Mommy at The Masonic Lodge
Soccer Mommy | Photo: Hollywood Forever

Soccer Mommy - The Masonic Lodge (June 4)

Nashville’s Sophie Allison, performing as Soccer Mommy, massages 1990s indie rock from before she was born into something conversationally confessional that’s been connecting with a cult fanbase ever since her mid-2010s self-released efforts while still in college. There’s nothing accidental about Allison’s music or career – she studied guitar at Nashville School of the Arts and the music business at NYU – yet she makes the finished product feel like effortless, stream-of-consciousness outpourings from her journals-strewn bedroom on a rainy Sunday. The breadth of Soccer Mommy’s appeal is evidenced by her eclectic history of tourmates, ranging from Paramore and Vampire Weekend to Slowdive and Stephen Malkmus. Her most recent album, 2022’s Sometimes, Forever wistfully leans into her dreamy shoegaze side with counterintuitively potent results. But this lover of poppy hooks can have fun, too, as on last year’s Karaoke Night EP, which includes covers of Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, and R.E.M. Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at Ticketweb.

GRLwood | Instagram: @grlwood_band

GRLwood - 1720 (June 4)

Self-described “Kentucky-fried queerdos” duo GRLwood mashes indie rock, queercore, and riot grrrl into their distinctive “screampop” and combustible live performances. Having earned a following in their native Louisville and a cult rep far beyond, GRLwood’s trajectory and tone changed following the 2020 departure of original drummer Karen Ledford. Now with Mia Morris behind the kit, founding singer/multi-instrumentalist Rej Forrester seems less angry and raw but more tuneful than ever, and still capable of sudden, screechy dynamic shifts. Last summer’s “Love is Fire” single was, absolutely deliberately, the poppiest GRLwood yet, relying more on songcraft and less on shock value. With three new singles and a trio of albums imminent, expect more of the old bile and equality/individuality/empowerment calls to action at 1720 from an act that, having divided fans when the original duo split, once again has something to prove. Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at Dice.

Caifanes + Café Tacuba at the Hollywood Bowl
Caifanes + Café Tacuba | Photo: Hollywood Bowl

Caifanes + Café Tacuba - Hollywood Bowl (June 5)

This much-anticipated co-headlining concert at the Hollywood Bowl marries two of the bands that helped propel Mexican rock music to a wider audience and energize 1990s “rock en Español.” Without a new album since 1994, Caifanes’ legend only grew during their long absence before reuniting in 2020. Beneath a singular melding of the British new wave that was all-powerful at the time of their 1986 formation, progressive rock, and Latin percussion, the somber lyrics and timbre of Saúl Hernández connected with both regional audiences and global fans of the burgeoning Cure and Smiths. By contrast, Café Tacuba has never been away since forming in Naucalpan de Juárez in 1989. The ever-changing Grammy-winning quartet, fleshed out with additional musicians on stage, far transcends rock en Español, embracing electronica, punk, traditional Mexican instrumentation, and elements of hip-hop. This show is a dream billing for two generations of fans, so expect mass celebratory nostalgia. Tickets at AXS.

Sasami at The Echo
Sasami | Photo: Live Nation

Sasami - The Echo (June 5)

On her 2022 sophomore solo album, Squeeze, lifelong Angeleno Sasami trades the shoegazey stylings of her critically beloved eponymous debut for grunge and even nu-metal as expressions of lockdown’s frustrations and fears. But the multi-instrumentalist/producer, who formerly played synths in Cherry Glazerr, retains a singer-songwriter’s ear for melody and her innately sunny and seductive, Sheryl Crow croon, as evidenced on album standout “The Greatest.” Squeeze is more a loud group hug than a metaphorical riot, with Sasami’s melodious timbre always offsetting the metal and industrial influences – Megadeth mega-drummer Dirk Verbeuren even features – to refreshingly singular effect. On stage, the Squeeze material becomes more straight-ahead, riff-based and grungy, perhaps simply due to the line-up limitations of club-level touring. Yet that voice still transcends all, recreating the album’s intriguing meeting of coffee shop and coliseum, open mic and open air. Tickets at Live Nation.

Kojaque at El Cid
Kojaque | Photo: Dice

Kojaque - El Cid (June 6)

While Ireland is hardly synonymous with hip-hop, Dublin’s Kojaque has been making headlines since his arresting 2015 debut single “Midnight Flower” and its startling underwater video. Refreshingly rhyming in his native accent, Kojaque’s lyrics are at once socially conscious and overtly personal, his flow laid-back and often funny, yet hypnotically insistent. Last year’s Phantom of the Afters album in part documents the 29-year-old’s relocation to London, its soft beats and imaginative use of samples decorating sometimes double-tracked wordplay. Phantom is Kojaque’s most confessional work, unashamedly influenced by the high-rise genius of The Streets and fueled by once again having something to prove in a new city in a country with an uncomfortable history with Ireland. Phantom of the Afters’ ambition is confirmed by a procession of collabs including Gotts Street Park, fellow London-based Irish artist Biig Piig, Brazilian-Norwegian jazzer Charlotte Do Santos, and NYC underground icon Wiki. Tickets on sale at Dice.

The Damned at The Fonda
Photo: The Damned

The Damned - The Fonda (June 7)

The Damned’s semi-obscure Live Shepperton 1980 album, recorded at a special show for fan club members, documents these Brit punk greats at their greatest: melodic, adventurous, irreverent, and musically nimble beneath Dave Vanian’s melodramatic baritone. For the first time in 35 years, they’re touring with the Shepperton lineup of Vanian, guitarist and professional eccentric Captain Sensible, virtuoso bassist Paul Gray in his fourth stint with the band, and newly returned flamboyant drummer Rat Scabies. While The Damned, who released the first UK punk single in 1976, can list at least three “classic” lineups which would have aficionados arguing for hours, this is the quartet that, in 1980-1983, found the sonic sweet spot between their chaotic early years and the more overtly commercial goth-rock/pop of the mid-‘80s albums Phantasmagoria and Anything. Expect frenetic OG faves like “New Rose,” and “Neat Neat Neat,” and a coming-together unlikely to ever be repeated in LA. Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at AXS.

Empress Of at the El Rey
Photo: Empress Of, Facebook

Empress Of - El Rey (June 7)

DIY declared Empress Of’s new For Your Consideration album “dizzyingly unique and creatively assertive.” The fourth full-length from the LA-based Honduran American chanteuse (born Lorely Rodriguez) adopts the persona of an ailing starlet jilted by a Hollywood director. Its intricately sensual yet pulsing electropop explores sex as therapy in both Spanish and English - sometimes within the same song – yet another stylistic transformation by an artist already known for evolution through both dreamy and dance-y phases. Rodriguez’ elastic, crystalline warble exquisitely delivers empowering lyrics atop progressive Latin house and future-facing dance-pop to intoxicating effect, immediately putting the listener in the provocative protagonist’s corner over For Your Consideration’s 11-song narrative arc. The album’s four singles to date include features from London-based Japanese singer Rina Sawayama on “Kiss Me,” which echoes the introspection of Empress Of’s earlier output; and LA female synth-pop trio MUNA on the regret-racked, wonderfully tremulous highlight “What’s Love.”

Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at AXS. NOTE: this show was moved to the El Rey from The Roxy.

Janet Jackson at the Kia Forum
Janet Jackson: Together Again | Photo: Kia Forum

Janet Jackson: Together Again - Kia Forum (June 8)

Five-time GRAMMY Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Janet Jackson brings her Together Again Summer Tour to the Kia Forum on Saturday, June 8! The second-most successful recording artist of the 1990s after Mariah Carey (and ahead of her legendary late brother, Michael), Miss Jackson’s immaculately produced, nuanced R&B manages to be at once innovative, socially conscious, and sexually provocative, spawning eight-figure-selling albums Control in 1986, Rhythm Nation three years later, and 1993’s janet. Her impeccable output continued evolving and absorbing trends right up until her most recent album, 2015’s Unbreakable, which was welcomed as a return to form following the infamous Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction." Expect on-stage greatness and grandeur that spans her incredible three-decade career. Tickets at AXS.

Echo & The Bunnymen at The Greek Theatre
Echo & The Bunnymen | Photo: The Greek Theatre

Echo & The Bunnymen - The Greek Theatre (June 8)

There are so many good reasons to attend Echo & The Bunnymen’s show at The Greek Theatre. First off, early summer is the best time to savor the outdoor, hugely atmospheric Greek. And then there’s the sheer quality of the gloomily psychedelic post-punk set list on a tour billed as Songs to Learn and Sing: The Very Best of Echo & The Bunnymen – a reference to the veteran Brit new wavers 1985 compilation album that includes the UK hits that made them even worthy of a “best of”, “The Cutter” and “The Killing Moon,” and the first appearance of future favorite “Bring On the Dancing Horses.” Sometimes dimming the innate resonance and current nostalgia value of such songs, Echo & the Bunnymen performances have long been hit-or-miss, in large part due to the alleged lifestyle challenges of mercurial singer Ian McCulloch, but recent concert reviews suggest they’re currently in good form.

Tickets to the all-ages show are on sale at AXS.

Sinkane at Zebulon
Sinkane at Zebulon | Photo: Dice

Sinkane - Zebulon (June 8)

Sudanese-American musician Sinkane was raised in London, Sudan, and Ohio, and today calls New York home. This multicultural background is palpable in prolific output that has spanned Sudanese pop, free jazz, prog rock, krautrock, funk rock, and electronica. He’s known as the vocalist and music director of touring supergroup the Atomic Bomb! Band, which has featured the likes of Money Mark, David Byrne, and Damon Albarn, and for composing the musical adaption of Roald Dahl’s “The Enormous Crocodile.” But somehow Sinkane has also found time to release nine solo albums, mostly on Germany’s City Slang label (Yo La Tengo, Boy Harsher etc.) His new full-length, We Belong, is perhaps the most coherent to date; a self-described love letter to Black music, culture, and people that channels both joy and historical suffering through Afrobeat, funk, reggae, disco, soul, and house influences framing narratives of the Black experience. Tickets at Dice.