One of the ongoing features that we here at [DFO] will periodically share is our “Boots On The Ground” series. When one of our gifted and talented and no doubt drunk writers journeys to places of note, we like to regale the readers here with photos, tales and remembrances of said event. We’ve done games, concerts, beer festivals, hot sauce festivals, Scotland! and many other locales.
Just a couple of months ago our very own Rikki-Tikki-Deadly featured a Boots on the Ground where both Rikki and myself attended a concert at the Greek Theater here in LA, which is another fantastic venue for live music. We saw an incredible performance by “James” one of my all time favorite live bands to see.
Just a little over a year ago I had another Boots on the Ground feature where I visited Denver and took a trip to Red Rocks to see David Byrne. That shit was life-altering.
So that means in the course of just a little over a year I’ve seen live shows at Red Rocks, the Greek Theater and this performance at the Hollywood Bowl. I would like to clearly state that each one of these venues are world-class live music venues and a must visit for anyone who loves live music and appreciates spectacular acoustics. It’s almost impossible to say which of the venues is the best for acoustics since they are all as close to perfect acoustically as possible.
One minor gripe related to all 3 venues? You got to earn that shit! Each venue features challenges as far as getting there. Red Rocks is in Morrison Colorado a few miles outside Denver and is a fairly cheap Uber ride from downtown but if you haven’t heard, you’ve got to literally climb the goddamn Rockies to get to your seat.
The Greek means a trip through Downtown LA, past Dodger Stadium, gridlock traffic and minimal parking. Thinking about taking ride share to get there? There is ZERO fucking cell service and it creates a legitimate clusterfuck trying to catch a ride as both passengers and drivers can only stare at each other while both dealing with the same concerns. Take the Metro Red rail line to Hollywood/ Western I think and as you exit there’s a shuttle bus that takes you up the hill to the venue.
The Hollywood Bowl? Yep, standstill traffic, minimal parking and street closures on event day make it a regular motherfucker to navigate.
They do offer one cool transportation option which brother DJ Taj and I chose for this show. They have park and ride bus locations throughout the greater LA area that take you directly to the show.
This is the correct way to go.
On the day of the show we headed to a nice nondescript parking lot at Wilson park in Torrance Ca to park the car.
Parking is free and ample. Plus the shuttles leave at multiple times so you can kind of choose your arrival time.
The folks queued up.
And upon the chosen time loaded up on the bus.
This was a fairly nice coach bus with good leg room and comfortable seating. They did not have a restroom so keep that in mind. One very fucking cool thing?
You can drink to your hearts content. They let you bring as much food/drink as you want. We had some iced down domestics and some snack mix and it was awesome. The folks across the aisle from us crackled open a bottle of pinot noir and we all traveled in style. One fun feature is you can toast the other vehicles on the freeway while they sit in the same horrible traffic as you do. They have no special shuttle lanes on the freeway, you’re sitting on the goddamn 110 to the 101 like everybody else.
Oh yeah, make sure your beverage/food carrying vessel is disposable because you do NOT get on the same bus back to the park and ride.
Also the ride home was not on a coach bus but a regular city bus so no drinks on the way home.
Finally exiting the 101 freeway at Highland right there in motherfucking Hollywood, the bus takes you right to the entrance of the venue.
Dispose of your trash and head inside.
The Bowl has many, many food and beverage options including full bars and multi-ethnic food stands. Bring your damn wallet though, you are in Hollywood after all. Then find your seat.
The Bowl has evolved over the years and they are always tinkering to improve the acoustics. My first trip to the bowl was back in the early ’80’s to see Paco De Lucia, Al DiMeola and John Mclaughlin perform an all acoustic guitar show. Fucking amazing show. The venue looked like this.
When you compare the 2 photos you can see the changes.
My second show at the Bowl was about 10 years ago to see Roger Waters perform the entire Dark Side of the Moon album plus tons of other songs. Also fantastic.
The Bowl sits right in the Hollywood Hills and the setting is fucking spectacular. Where in the Hollywood Hills you ask?
This was taken from our seats.
A closer look for you.
The venue is surrounded by trees…
on every side.
The weather was pitch fucking perfect as well.
There were two opening bands for the show, the first was Richard Pictures – yeah I know – who turned out to be…
A Grateful Dead cover band I shit you not. Yes, I’ve seen the Dead back in the early ’80’s as well and I can tell you with some certainty, these guys sounded a LOT like the Dead. The guitar jams from the lead guitarist were eerily like Jerry’s riffs and the vocals were uncanny. Very unusual choice for an opener but they were solid.
The second band was Tinariwen a band from the Malian Desert in Africa. They wore traditional dress, sang in their native tongue and played a blues/tribal/rock mashup that was drum and bass heavy.
Their back story is amazing as they actually were members of the Taureg rebel fighters who fought in the rebellion against Muammar Ghaddafi.
Very cool shit.
I highly recommend additional research.
This shot is a little fuzzy but look at this rich bastard.
That’s a house on the hill overlooking the Bowl. It has a long snaking driveway leading to it and as far as I could tell was the only house up there.
The stage setup for Vampire Weekend was fairly clean and straightforward.
It was an absolutely packed house for the show.
Danielle Haim and her sisters Este and Alana assisted on vocals for a couple of songs as well.
Here’s a shot of the entire scene.
You can see how the video displays bring you basically on stage. Amazing, amazing venue.
The band played over 2 and 1/2 hours and at the end of the day played 30 total songs.
I’ve been a fan of this band for many years and never had seen them perform live. They were fucking outstanding. The acoustics were perfect for their world-beat style. I’ve been going to live shows for over forty
years and this was one of the better live performances I’ve seen. You can also add the aforementioned James and David Byrne shows to that list.
An odd comparison but bear with me; have you ever seen a band perform live and their live performance was hands-down better than their recorded music?
I’ve seen a few bands who could say that, Primus and Oingo Boingo come to mind. This band was tight, clean, and I guess an odd word to think of was “professional.”
I had high hopes and expectations for this show but was fucking floored by this band.
Sorry Drew, I know you dropped a diss-blog post on them a few weeks back – for obvious reasons I’m not going to link to the blog previously known as Deadspin – but this show was special.
Did the acoustics help? Probably. They sure didn’t hurt.
Highest recommendations and I will be a repeat customer if they come back.
Just one more show on this years calendar and in case you think I’m some silly, New Age, easy listening music fan that show is November 30th at the Forum. Slayers Final Campaign with opening acts, Phil Anselmo (saw Pantera twice), Ministry (my 3rd time seeing Uncle Al) and Primus (my 4th time seeing Les and the boys.)
See live music! Travel to a good venue. When this show was going on I told bother Taj, that of every entertainment option available to man: sports, monster truck rallies (kidding), Broadway theater, strip club whatever, live music is my very favorite thing to do ever.
Live music comes in all flavors, don’t just stick with vanilla.
Thanks for reading folks.