Jack Johnson The singer-songwriter returns to Santa Barbara — the Hawaii native is a UCSB alumnus, class of '97 — to play back-to-back shows of his breezy yet increasingly ambitious beach-folk. Johnson shares the bill Wednesday with G. Love & Special Sauce, whom the surfer often cites as one of his greatest influences, and ALO on Thursday. Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara. 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. $64. (805) 962-7411. www.sbbowl.com.
Frightened Rabbit The Scottish band upgraded from a quartet to a five-piece late last year to better suit the material of its latest album, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks," which adds scale and layers to its folk-tinged indie-pop. Scott Hutchison's warbling anchors the swirl of guitars, keyboards and drums. Plants and Animals and Bad Veins open. Mayan Theatre, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown. 7 p.m. $28.60. (213) 746-4674. http://www.clubmayan.com.
In Defense of Failure As obsessed as Americans are with the idea of success, Megan McArdle, an editor at the Atlantic and a fellow at the New America Foundation, argues that failure is also an essential part of our national character. In this Zocalo Public Square event, McArdle will discuss why the ability to fail gracefully is an important part of the U.S. economy. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 443-7000. www.zocalopublicsquare.org.
Vanessa Davis The graphic novelist is known for her vibrant watercolors, used to tell wry, sneakily moving stories of young femininity. Her latest, "Make Me a Woman," is both intimate and particular to growing up Jewish in Florida, yet universal in its close, affectionate eye for the small details of life. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. 7:30 p.m. Free. http://www.skylightbooks.com.