Monday, October 20, 2008

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl

My first concert in LA couldn't have been more Californian- Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys at the Hollywood Bowl. Known for its iconic band shell and also as the summer home of the LA Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl might be the best place to see a concert. From its beautiful setting in the Hollywood Hills to the tradition of taking along a picnic meal, the venue itself plays a huge role in the enjoyment of a show. I always dreamed of seeing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and this was the perfect opportunity. The tickets were as cheap as $10, graded on up to $114 for the best seats. I really appreciated the option for inexpensive tickets, which is unheard of these days in the rest of the concert industry, though not for the Hollywood Bowl. To this day, the venue still offers $1 tickets at the top of the Bowl for many Philharmonic concerts. My $12 ticket placed me 3 rows from the back, but there's not a bad view in the place. Though tiny, I had a clear sight of the stage and the Hollywood sign behind it (I later learned that if you're back far enough to see the Hollywood sign, then your seats are pretty bad...)

Billed as an 'End of Summer Fireworks Spectacular', Brian Wilson performed with his backing band The Wondermints and the LA Philharmonic. The show began like an orchestral concert, as the LA Phil performed a selection of Brian Wilson's favorite classical works:
Mozart- The Marriage of Figaro Overture
Bach- Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Gershwin- Girl Crazy Overture

From the intricate arrangements and orchestration of his Beach Boys tunes, it makes sense that Brian Wilson is an enthusiast of classical music, and it was interesting to hear the influences that come through in his songs. Next, Brian and his band joined the orchestra to perform a few songs from his new album That Lucky Old Sun. Even more so than his previous work, the record is a love letter to Southern California, and is filled with the trademark lush harmonies that he was known for with the Beach Boys.

Brian Wilson Sings A Love Letter To California- Performance and Interview on World Cafe

"Forever My Surfer Girl"

Video- Live Performance on Yahoo Music

Next, the group played 'God Only Knows'. For such a genius chamber pop composition, watching it live backed by the LA Phil seemed like the real way to hear it.
After an intermission, Brian Wilson and his band returned to finish the night with a mix of his solo work and Beach Boys favorites. Naturally, 'Do You Wanna Dance' got the crowd dancing the most, on top of the benches and down the aisles. And Californians are really proud of 'California Girls'. It was also a treat to hear the beautiful 'Our Prayer' segue into 'Heroes and Villains' from his album Smile. With the fireworks, feel-good songs, and beautiful setting, it was the perfect end of summer celebration.

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl- Live review from LAist

Some of my favorite Beach Boys songs:
'Don't Worry Baby'

Brian Wilson's ode to lost youth- 'Caroline, No' from the masterpiece Pet Sounds
"Where did your long hair go? Where is the girl I used to know? How could you lose that happy glow?"

'The Sad Song Awards'- a clip from David Cross and Bob Odenkirk's old sketch comedy program Mr. Show. The parody of 'God Only Knows' is spot-on, from the melancholy, boyish vocals to the accompanying percussion, though the spoof of Eric Clapton's 'Tears In Heaven' is pretty cruel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oddly RIC

The Odd Lyric has a new home. In August I packed up my things and moved west to Pasadena, CA. So I've traded the River City for a city without its own water supply. Goodbye, Ukrop's- Hello, In-N-Out.

It's exciting to be in Los Angeles. There is so much going on here and I'll have many new musical discoveries to share. Growing up, I used to knock Richmond for its struggling scene. Venues such as the Flood Zone closed right as I entered high school, leaving a gaping hole in the music scene and my adolescent concert-going experience. For nearly a decade no venue took its place, and t
he occasional big-name act that came through usually played in the field of an office park. Things were so spare that I found myself jumping to see Toad the Wet Sprocket or whatever decent act came to town (no offense to Toad the Wet Sprocket, but still...). I got used to the long drives to shows in DC, as well as Charlottesville and Norfolk, which wisely filled the void that Richmond left. The success of live venues in both cities only further illustrated Richmond's incompetence, as any touring act passing through the city on I-95 has to go out of their way to get to Cville or Norfolk.

The city itself had no lack of talent or creativity, just a good venue to host local and national acts. The local artists found their outlet in coffeeshops, house shows, and artspaces, evidenced in the vibrant underground scene. But now things for Richmond are looking up. In the past year two new venues have opened- The National theater and Toad's Place, drawing national artists and providing a more prominent stage for local ones. Leave it to Richmond to get its act together just as I leave.

I really grew to love Richmond, though, despite (and perhaps because of) its struggles, and I'll always consider the city home. And as my sister pointed out, the title of my blog can be read 'Oddly RIC', a fitting name that I unknowingly gave. I really look forward to life in LA and all it has to offer, but I'll always take pride in Virginia and the experiences there that shaped me.

A Trip To Southern California- A poetic introduction to Weekend Edition's episode on Los Angeles.
"Millions from across the world begin new lives here in places like Pasadena, West Covina, East Los Angeles, and Compton...Most people in LA are not in the film business, but almost no one, anywhere, is immune to the dreams that are hatched here."

The Hollywood sign on a clear day
...and on a not so clear day