Summertime concerts in Los Angeles are synonymous with the Hollywood Bowl. It should be. The infamous venue has been around since the 1920s. Surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains and overlooking Mulholland Drive, this is where the cream of the crop come to keep the crowd on its feet. From Black Sabbath to Jim Morrison to the LA Philharmonic’s summer home, the amphitheater is known for offering us diverse performances–something for everyone–the Bolshoi Ballet in 1959, the Beatles in 1964. You’ve no doubt seen the venue on the big screen in movies like Xanadu and Beaches. It’s no wonder that June through September, Angelenos flock to its superb acoustics.
There’s nothing quite like getting there early to take a trip through the free museum, especially if you’re a history buff. Don’t expect a massive archive because it isn’t that. But there’s enough information that will give you a good idea how the place has gone through significant changes over the years and managed to evolve into what it is today. Bring your own picnic basket and bottle of wine. Seriously. It’s encouraged. Then after you’ve stuffed your face, settle in as the sun goes down, the moon pops out and the stars begin to wink, one by one. No matter the performer or the band, I’ve never been disappointed.
My first time there came courtesy of free tickets to see the LA Phil and an all-Mozart program. What I remember most—other than the beautiful-sounding symphony, the brilliant pianist and the outstanding soprano—was the ambiance. You don’t forget the very first time you hear Mozart’s Symphony 38 or Yuja Wang’s perfect Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto or see David Newman conduct the HB orchestra during “Oscar Night” to such films as Dances With Wolves. There’s just something enchanting about sipping wine under the night sky, feeling the summer breeze on your face all the while tapping your foot or swaying to the music.
Legend has it that when the Beatles played here the crowd got so loud you couldn’t even hear John, Paul, George or Ringo keep the beat. But no doubt the fans were ecstatic and made an everlasting memory that will stay with them for life. And isn’t that what it’s all?
The Hollywood Bowl is an institution. And summer wouldn’t be the same without making the trip, even with the traffic nightmare that is LA. But don’t let that keep you away. Why? Because you can’t beat spending a beautiful summer evening outdoors. Throw in music and you’ve got yourself a stellar setting you’ll remember forever.
TIPS IF YOU GO: If you plan a trip to the Bowl, know in advance it takes a LONG time to exit. Because of that don’t park near the theater. Park elsewhere and take a bus in. If you don’t want to splurge on box seats or superseats, no problem. Bring a blanket or something to sit on because the bench seats (cheap seats) can be hard on the derriere. If you happen to find yourself in the area early enough (maybe you’ve come from out of town and are staying overnight in one of the hotels) know that some mornings they’ll let you in to catch rehearsals which are open to the public.
Enjoy your summer no matter where you choose to spend it!