Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rodrigo y Gabriella/Devotchka/Lord Huron, July 14 at the Hollywood Bowl

Noa loves Rodrigo y Gabriela.  Or she just loves going to shows at the Bowl.  Maybe both.  But she invited us to go with her people for the show there and it's hard to turn down a Sunday night show at the Bowl.  Rodrigo y Gabriela don't have any hit songs but then, it's only the two of them with guitars, no vocals, and they're still utterly amazing.  Amazing enough to sell that many tickets as well as to captivate the crowd every time.  They apparently don't play mostly covers anymore, but they make up for the unfamiliarity with power, intensity, endurance, musicianship, and all-around fun.  One of the best live shows around, confounding expectations when you can't sing along.  Devotchka opened.  I often equate them to Gogol Bordello, but without the intensity of the stage show, just by the music, which I've never investigated, just what I've heard tangentially at festivals.  Lord Huron opened before them and they were pleasant enough but honestly I was riding a heavy buzz at that point just after we went in.  More than the music we saw it was an evening with friends, peaking early with a grand picnic at the tables outside across the parking lots.  Noa's friends can bring some great food.  We brought fried chicken (since it was a picnic).  It's a time that reminds anyone what a wonderful night you can have at the Bowl, with cherished friends and food and wine, no matter who's on stage -- but even better when there's someone amazing there.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Josh Groban/L.A. Philharmonic, July 4 at the Hollywood Bowl

The night before, Carla said that Dayna had tickets for the July 4th show at the Hollywood Bowl.  We didn't have plans for the holiday and I didn't see why we couldn't do it.  Dayna & Carlos are always a good time to hang out with, and there would be the fireworks and the L.A. Philharmonic and we could take a picnic.  Though we knew there was more to it than that: We know that the July 4th celebration has someone performing a concert at the Bowl that night, along with everything else involved, and the fact that Dayna didn't tell us who it was and that it didn't show up in our memory as someone notable to see, we were suspicious   But again, it could be a good time for a night out on the holiday, so why not?  Turns out it was Josh Groban.  I'd barely ever heard of the guy, much less heard his music.  We really had no idea what to even expect.  It could have been better but it easily could have been a lot worse.  The dude is a singer, singing stuff that was inspirational bordering on religious (or fully in it but they don't usually want to blatantly express that for the market).  Not really pop since it didn't have a sugary, catchy sensibility, but inoffensive and light.  There were older house-wives and maybe a few teens in the audience, so maybe his heyday was moving away from him, but the dude can sing (repeated here because it was so much about his singing), even if it was nothing I would choose to hear.  He's actually quite charismatic, to the point that I wished he would keep telling stories between songs rather than singing the songs themselves.  And while I didn't care for the Philharmonic horning in on the Hall & Oates concert we saw there on July 4th two years before, I wished they'd kept playing instead of Groban singing, though that wouldn't have been a real, full show by him, and it wouldn't be fair to judge on a truncated performance just because of the holiday effects.  And we had a wonderful picnic dinner: Dinah's fried chicken, wine, and the company of good friends.  We could have done anything that night but any event at the Bowl can be an enjoyable evening (especially if you have fried chicken and alcohol).  (And thanks for sharing your tickets, Dayna!)

Josh Groban's set-list:
"False Alarms"
"February Song"
"The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" (Joe Cocker cover)
"Un Alma Mas"
"Broken Vow"
"Hollow Talk"
"Vincent" (Starry, Starry Night) (Don McLean cover)
"Dream On" (Aerosmith cover; instrumental version by band violinist)
"VocĂȘ Existe em Mim"
"You Raise Me Up"

"I Believe" (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) (Stevie Wonder cover)
"Smile" (Nat King Cole cover)