2023 brings festivals and concerts of every stripe — from January’s Calibash to April’s Coachella, and featuring Gen X reunions (Blink-182, Postal Service), once-in-an-epoch baby-boomer events (Joni Mitchell at Washington’s Gorge, the Oyster-Bay-meets-Santa-Monica pairing of Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks), two generations of R&B genius (SZA, Janet Jackson) and, Ticketmaster willing, five nights of Taylor Swift at SoFi. There will be new albums from an energized Sam Smith and SoCal singer-songwriters Lana Del Rey and Blondshell. And on Feb. 12, all eyes will be on the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, where Rihanna finally makes her return to the stage, hopefully a prelude to a new album and tour.
Hardy, “The Mockingbird & the Crow” (Jan. 20) One of the key figures in Morgan Wallen’s coterie of songwriting bros, Hardy scored a Top 10 country hit of his own in 2022 with “Wait in the Truck,” a stark, “Thunder Rolls”-ish account of vigilante justice co-starring Lainey Wilson as a victim of domestic violence. This month, he’ll drop his second solo studio album, which spreads 17 very crafty (and sometimes pandering) tracks across two halves: one leaning country, the other leaning hard rock. Catch him on the road as a headliner and as an opening act on Wallen’s 2023 stadium tour, including a July 22 stop at SoFi Stadium. — Mikael Wood cold mill
Calibash, Crypto.com Arena (Jan. 21-22) L.A.’s annual música urbana festival, Calibash, is celebrating its Sweet 16 with an arena-sized perreo at Crypto.com. Hosted by local radio station Mega 96.3, the two-night dance party has been a critical gateway for MCs from as far as Puerto Rico and Colombia to corner the Latin market in Los Angeles; global superstar Bad Bunny made a guest appearance in 2020. This year’s Calibash will be headlined by reggaetón titans Ozuna and Karol G, and feature Ivy Queen, Farruko, Myke Towers, Sech, Feid and hometown heroine Becky G. — Suzy Exposito
Sam Smith, “Gloria” (Jan. 26) Smith has called their upcoming album “Gloria” an “emotional, sexual and spiritual liberation.” Lead chart-topping single “Unholy,” featuring Kim Petras, checks all those boxes, as Smith sings of an adulterous night at an L.A strip club over mangled synths. It’s Smith’s second album since they came out as nonbinary in 2019, following 2020’s “Love Goes,” which won a GLAAD media award for outstanding music artist. For their fourth album, Smith will reunite with Grammy-winning producers Jimmy Napes and Stargate, along with Swedish Persian songwriter and producer ILYA. — Kenan Draughorne
65th Grammy Awards, Crypto.com Arena (Feb. 5) The Recording Academy hasn’t yet announced who will perform at music’s most prestigious awards show, but given the nominees, this Grammys telecast may be the starriest in ages: Expect appearances by A-listers including Adele, Harry Styles, Lizzo and Beyoncé (each of whom is up for album, record and song of the year), as well as Bad Bunny (whose “Un Verano Sin Ti” is the first Spanish-language LP ever nominated for album of the year) and Brandi Carlile (a proven Grammys show-stealer with seven nods this go-around). Among the races to watch are song of the year, which Taylor Swift may finally win on her sixth nomination, and best new artist, which, minus a clear front-runner à la Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish, feels up for grabs. — M.W.
From a 12-time winner to first-time nominees, Kim Petras, Muni Long, Babyface, Blake Slatkin and Nija Charles discuss their paths to the Grammy Awards.
Blondshell, Fonda Theatre (Feb. 10) and El Rey Theatre (Feb. 11) Her latest single is titled “Veronica Mars,” after the mid-2000s teen TV drama, but L.A.-based Sabrina Teitelbaum looks back a bit further than that in the fuzzed-out guitar pop she records as Blondshell: In a handful of songs that have racked up hundreds of thousands of streams each on Spotify, Teitelbaum expertly channels the wounded melodicism and deadpan cool of ’90s queens like Liz Phair, Hole and That Dog for a generation discovering combat boots and unskinny jeans for itself. Blondshell’s debut LP is due in spring from Partisan Records; before that, she’ll hit the road as Suki Waterhouse’s opener on a tour that will wrap with a pair of hometown gigs. — M.W.
Kelela, “Raven” (Feb. 10) Ethiopian American singer Kelela has taken her time since her acclaimed album “Take Me Apart” — six years, to be exact. She’s set to return in 2023 with “Raven,” of which three songs have already been released this year. Across her catalog, she’s straddled the balance between danceable electronic sounds and more mellow R&B, but in the wake of the 2020 racial reckoning, she’s centering “Raven” around the people who’ve always held her down: Queer Black people, she told Billboard. — K.D.
Paramore, “This Is Why” (Feb. 10) Nashville emo legends Paramore will release its first album in almost six years, “This Is Why,” a topsy-turvy, post-punk ramble written and recorded during the COVID era. The band will begin its world tour on Feb. 6 and comes to Kia Forum on July 19 and 20. In addition, it’ll help kick off Taylor Swift’s stadium tour on March 17 and 18 in Glendale, Ariz. — S.E.
Rihanna, Super Bowl LVII halftime show (Feb. 12) Rihanna hasn’t been slacking since her last album, “Anti,” in 2016 — she became a billionaire and had a baby, after all. But the release day for her long-awaited, still-unannounced “R9” LP might be getting closer, given that she’ll return to the biggest stage imaginable at the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show in Glendale, Ariz. Somewhere in her greatest hits performance, she will likely sample a few bars from her first new album since Obama was in office. — August Brown
Caroline Polachek, “Desire, I Want to Turn Into You” (Feb. 14) In the four years since releasing her art-pop revelation, “Pang,” singer-songwriter Polachek toured the world with Dua Lipa, melded minds with Charli XCX and Flume and spawned a TikTok dance craze. This year, she’s emerging from the studio with a new work of synth-laden romanticism, her sophomore album “Desire, I Want to Turn Into You,” aptly timed for Valentine’s Day. She’ll doubtless perform much of the new LP at the Shrine Auditorium on April 29. — S.E.
“Daisy Jones & the Six” (March 3) The recent death of Christine McVie prompted fond reminiscences of the excitement and chaos of the ’70s rock scene in L.A. This Prime Video miniseries, based on the Taylor Jenkins Reid novel loosely inspired by Fleetwood Mac, chronicles a young band’s ascent in a haze of sunshine, cocaine and torrid affairs, starring Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) as the singer and songwriter at the center of the storm. — A.B.
Rolling Loud, Hollywood Park (March 3-5) The defining hip-hop festival in America comes to Hollywood Park in Inglewood for its 2023 edition. The lineup is stacked as always, with headliners Travis Scott (in his first L.A. performance since the Astroworld tragedy), Future, Playboi Carti and Lil Wayne, while support acts such as City Girls, Don Toliver, Ice Spice, Baby Stone Gorillas and Coi Leray make the huge bill a must-see. — A.B.
Lana Del Rey, “Did You Know There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” (March 10) Del Rey’s new album is still two months away, and it already has the pettiest rollout of 2023. Unsurprisingly, the singer employed a billboard campaign to promote the new album, but the location of the lone billboard that’s been installed has raised eyebrows — it’s in Tulsa, Okla., the hometown of her ex-boyfriend she reportedly severed ties with in 2020. Del Rey confirmed the billboard’s placement was entirely intentional, simply writing “It’s. Personal.” under a photo of the billboard on her private Instagram. The album’s title track refers to a “a long-forgotten Art Deco pedestrian tunnel,” as The Times wrote in 1992, that “lies beneath Ocean Boulevard” in Long Beach. — K.D.
Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks, SoFi Stadium (March 10) He’s a proudly uptight New Yorker, she a vibey purveyor of California cool — a bottle of red and a bottle of white, if you will. Despite their differences in style and temperament, Joel, 73, and Nicks, 74, play to overlapping audiences of boomers (and graying Gen X-ers) eager to revisit an era when FM radio could keep a star’s career alive well into middle age. And with catalogs the size of theirs, expect a night of wall-to-wall singalongs — and some inevitable disappointment over the classics each has to skip for time. — M.W.
100 gecs, “10,000 gecs” (March 17) It’s hard to get much louder than 100 gecs’ debut album “1000 gecs,” but the title of the follow-up suggests they’re ratcheting up the intensity. “10,000 gecs,” featuring “mememe” and “Doritos & Fritos,” will bring back the glitched vocals and brain-breaking beats that make you feel like you stuffed pop rocks into your ears. — K.D.
SZA and Omar Apollo, Kia Forum (March 22) If you’ve scorned a former lover over the last year, enter SZA’s upcoming Forum date at your own risk. The singer takes aim at an ex who did her wrong throughout her new album “SOS,” often via retaliatory barbs such as “Forgiveless,” but also with longing odes to what was once beautiful on “Nobody Gets Me.” Now set to tour for the first time since 2017, expect chants of “I might kill my ex” to fill the Forum. Best new artist Grammy nominee Omar Apollo opens. — K.D.
‘SOS’ evokes memories of ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,’ ‘Beyoncé,’ Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ and even Taylor Swift’s ‘Red.’
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Empire Polo Club, Indio, Calif. (April 14-16 and 21-23) The theme of this year’s Coachella? “Back to Normal,” most likely. After two years of pandemic cancellations and an extremely chaotic 2022 in which Travis Scott and Kanye West each dropped out as headliners, this year’s edition has at least one locked-in headliner (Frank Ocean, rescheduled from 2020) and a ton of A-list pop and even rock stars to speculate over. Bad Bunny? Rihanna? Taylor Swift? Adele? Blink-182? Let the baseless rumors swirl. — A.B.
Sick New World, Las Vegas Festival Grounds (May 13) After the success of Live Nation’s emo nostalgia fest, When We Were Young, it’s only fair that metal millennials have their day in Vegas too. Enter Sick New World, the nü-metal, hard rock and goth fest headlined by essential acts like System of a Down, Korn, Deftones, Incubus and Evanescence. Peppered with O.G.s like Ministry and Sisters of Mercy and young bloods like Turnstile and Machine Girl, it will be a headbanger’s ball to remember. — S.E.
Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile, the Gorge Amphitheatre (June 9-11) Mitchell blew minds when she appeared unannounced at July’s Newport Folk Festival for her first full public concert since she suffered a debilitating aneurysm in 2015. Now the 79-year-old singer-songwriter is set to bring the so-called Joni Jams she’s been hosting at her Bel-Air home to the scenic Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington. The show will serve as the centerpiece of a three-night stand organized by Carlile, who also arranged Mitchell’s Newport gig, called Echoes Through the Canyon; in addition to Carlile and Mitchell, the event will feature performances by Marcus Mumford, Allison Russell, Tanya Tucker and Carlile’s Highwomen supergroup with Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires. — M.W.
Janet Jackson, the Hollywood Bowl (June 10) Jackson is framing her latest North American tour as a celebration of her 50th year in show business and of the 25th anniversary of her album “The Velvet Rope” (which actually came out in late 1997, but still). Together Again, as the road show is billed, also comes in the wake of a docuseries that aired last year and after her 2019 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — both projects meant to emphasize Jackson’s artistic ingenuity (and her influence on the likes of SZA and FKA twigs) over the tabloid-fodder events of her personal life. Turning his focus back to music after years acting in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, Ludacris is booked as Jackson’s warm-up act; here the pair’s show will open the Hollywood Bowl’s summer season. — M.W.
Blink-182, Banc of California Stadium (June 16-17) They’re finally coming: After a near-decade spent disbanded, the original lineup of Blink-182 has reunited. The raunchy pop-punk legends made their comeback in October when they released “Edging,” the lead single off their upcoming 10th studio album, and the first to feature guitarist, singer and extraterrestrial scholar Tom DeLonge since 2012. The trio — DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker — is set to begin its world tour on March 11 in Tijuana, and will bring the ruckus to L.A.'s Banc of California Stadium with Turnstile on June 16 and 17. — S.E.
Taylor Swift, SoFi Stadium (Aug. 3-5 and 8-9) Thanks to Ticketmaster’s epic fumbling of its presale, Swift’s first tour in five years got off to a rough start before she even sang a note. Yet the pop superstar boasts such a devoted following that any ill will is likely to have dissipated by the time Swift launches the Eras Tour in mid-March in Arizona (to say nothing of its concluding five-night run at SoFi). The singer has described the production as “a journey through all of my musical eras,” which due to COVID includes a whopping four studio albums — “Lover,” “Folklore,” “Evermore” and “Midnights” — she has yet to tour behind. Among the openers she’ll bring along to Inglewood are Gracie Abrams, Gayle and everyone’s favorite L.A. sister act, Haim. — M.W.
Metallica, SoFi Stadium (Aug. 25 and 27) The thrash-metal juggernauts are returning to the road with an album, “72 Seasons,” bearing one of the most garish covers in rock history. But in their fifth decade of shredding, the quartet are metal’s lions in winter — their two-night stand at SoFi will feature two different sets with no repeats. — A.B.
The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie, the Hollywood Bowl (Oct. 13) Dust off your favorite moth-eaten cardigan! In honor of their 20th anniversaries, singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard will be performing two of his most beloved recordings in full at the Hollywood Bowl: “Give Up,” the synthpop album he released with Jimmy Tamborello under the moniker the Postal Service (they’ll be joined by sometime-band-member Jenny Lewis), as well as “Transatlanticism,” the landmark indie-rock album by his full-time band Death Cab for Cutie. — S.E.
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August Brown covers pop music, the music industry and nightlife policy at the Los Angeles Times.
Kenan Draughorne is a reporter at the Los Angeles Times and was a member of the 2021-22 Los Angeles Times Fellowship class. When he’s not writing a story, you can find him skating across Dockweiler Beach, playing the drums or furiously updating his Spotify playlists.
Suzy Exposito is a music reporter at the Los Angeles Times. She previously spearheaded the Latin music section at Rolling Stone, and has written for NPR, Pitchfork and Revolver.
cold mill Mikael Wood is pop music critic for the Los Angeles Times.