OH, KATY: To call Katy Perry Santa Barbara’s biggest musical export might just be the understatement of the decade. Sure, Jack Johnson has reached global superstar status, but he’s not vying for Michael Jackson’s singles record. (Perry’s Teenage Dream is currently poised to be the second album in history to produce five chart-topping Hot 100 tracks—Bad was the first.) In just a few short years, KP has gone from hometown hero to legit international superstar. And, lucky for us, she’s not about to forget where she came from.
This Saturday and Sunday, Perry takes to the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) for a sold-out set of dates that are likely to keep fans buzzing for weeks. The two-night stint comes on the heels of Perry’s double date in L.A. this past weekend, and will no doubt be chock-full of S.B.-centric shout-outs ’cuz, you know, she’s from here. But the shows are also guaranteed to seriously up the onstage ante. Since Perry’s last stop at the Bowl in September, Teenage Dream has sold more than one million copies, meaning sweeter sets, more backup dancers, and a whole lot of zany costume changes.
More importantly, though, Dream has pushed Perry into the upper echelon of pop diva-hood: that special place reserved for the Britneys, the Beyoncés, and Gagas of the world. Just look at her track record. This year alone, “California Gurls” proved the ultimate summer anthem, dripping with Popsicle innuendos and Snoop Dogg guest spots. Then came “Teenage Dream,” complete with breathy falsettos, infectious dance beats, and remix-ready guitar hooks. Later, “Firework” became the big, belty ballad that forced us to forget Kelly Clarkson ever existed. And even without Kanye, “ET” made for the best piece of sci-fi bubblegum pop I’ve heard in, well, ever.
Better yet, unlike the Britneys and the Beyoncés, Perry keeps it real. The girl’s down to embarrass herself for a laugh—just check her turn as a brace-faced teen in the video for “Last Friday Night (TGIF).” She’s writing (at least parts of) her own songs. And she’s yet to be caught facedown, coked-up, or throwing a gnarly public temper tantrum. Maybe our standards for pop stars have been lowered in recent years (Brit-Brit, we’re looking at you), but Katy seems to be doing things right. And that’s something I’m down to get down with … I’m still not forgiving that “Peacock” song, though.
Katy Perry plays the S.B. Bowl on Saturday, August 13, and Sunday, August 14, at 7 p.m. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for info.
LOST BOYS: On the slightly smaller scale, this Thursday, August 11, SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) plays host to a hometown album-release show for Santa Ynez ska-cum-reggae rockers Ellwood. Their debut, Lost in Transition, is a laid-back and sunny mix of slow-brewing bass lines, joyous guitar hooks, and warm, familiar vocals that will immediately call to mind frontman Chuck Robertson’s other musical hat: the Mad Caddies. Named for the Goleta oil field that runs alongside UCSB, Ellwood the band (which also features former Caddies drummer Todd Rosenberg), is very much a product of its environment. Born in “a garage, a guest house, a barn, and a bar”—we’re guessing the Maverick—the quartet is proudly making music to “drink a beer and dance to.” No deep emotional lyrics, no subversive political undercurrents, just groovy jams ripe for summertime partying. Needless to say, Thursday’s release party is sure to contain plenty of high fives, congratulatory cheers, and serious rug cutting. The show starts at 8 p.m. For details and tickets, call 962-7776 or visit newnoisesb.com.
ALSO THIS WEEK: Sac-Town psych-rock experimentalists Ganglians play Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) on Thursday, August 18. Santa Barbara hard rockers December’s Children play Roy (7 W. Carrillo St.) on Saturday, August 13. And Alberta Cross continues their month-long residency this Friday, August 12, at SOhO with L.A.’s He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister.