A night at the Hollywood Bowl

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I always hear about the Hollywood Bowl and what an amazing venue it is. Needless to say, it gets a lot of hype. I guess it was overly fitting that the three bands I was able to catch on a gorgeous night in LA generally get thrown into the category of being overly-hyped.

Girls, Grizzly Bear, and Phoenix set the tone for what I would call a perfect night of music. If I were to guess,the roughly 18,000 others in attendance to this sold out show would most likely agree with me.

The venue in and of itself is something to behold and all three acts (even though the emphasis was clearly put on Phoenix) held up their end of the musical bargain. I wasn’t disappointed by one bit of the night.

Even before the music started I was in shock. Swarms of people were “tailgating” around the venue with bottles of wine, cheese, sushi, and the typical pizza or burgers (but the former definitely was more apparent than the later). No drunk assholes were pounding beers in a parking lot before they had to enter the venue to buy their ridiculously overpriced drinks. You wanted to drink a $50 bottle of wine (not marked up by the venue) while you watched your show? Then you did. Amazing.


As the sun went down over the Hollywood Bowl, Girls took the stage and blew my mind starting the night out with my favorite song of theirs, ‘Laura’. They nailed it. Christopher Owens (lead vox, gtr) appears to be stuck in the wrong era. Fresh(ish) haircut topped on his head, he struck me more as a British artist from the 60’s, not a (most likely) smelly guy from San Fran. This only adds to the beauty of their sound.

The set was rocking, powerfully pop-ridden, but left the crowd at the end of their set with a wall full of ear filling feedback. Needless to say, the group has some good range with their sound.

As the feedback slowly built, Owens addressed the crowd and made sure the west coast fans would “Make sure to make our friends from New York and France feel welcome”. Then off they went.

Girls – Laura

Grizzly Bear

A rushed stage transition was happening while one recognizable man from the next group was quietly alone on stage tuning up his guitars and testing his sounds. Daniel Rossen (vox, gtr, keys) of Grizzly Bear was alone on the massive Bowl stage frantically prepping to get everything together. You could tell time was short.

The lights dimmed and out rushed the 4 piece. Without hesitation they burst into song. Funny thing about their set? You could tell timing was rushed due to Edward Droste mentioning the big, red, glaring countdown clock in front of them, yet even their slowest of tempo moments never felt rushed. They stuck with their music and songs and played them like they should.

Halfway through the set they had a visitor, the one and only Leslie Feist took the stage for two songs including their “smash hit” ‘Two Weeks’. Oddly enough, instead of adding her in on some of the lush harmonies on the song, they let her take some of the harmonies on herself. A bold move that she clearly lived up to.

This was my second Grizzly Bear show and both have surpassed my expectations of the band. They appear like they’re only comfortable in the studio but throw them in front of a massive crowd, and the enormous sound they produce with blow you away.

Here’s a great example of how rushed they were. They weren’t even able to play the whole version of ‘On a Neck, on a Spit’ from Yellow House. Rossen had to start the song off from the catchy guitar breakdown.

Grizzly Bear – On a Neck, on a Spit


With a sold out Hollywood Bowl of roughly 18,000 people, Phoenix definitely came to put on a show.

As the first stop of their fall tour, Phoenix hit the stage on par with a U2 or Rolling Stones performance (with better music). This humble French group has now turned full rockstar mode and I was grinning ear to ear for them.

A dark stage, a full crowd on their feet screaming, and then the all too recognizable opening guitar riff for ‘Lisztomania’ kicked off their set. It was as powerful and awesome as the build up led you to believe it was going to be.

The most notable thing besides the amazing light show they put on had to be their drummer, Thomas Hedlund. He POUNDS THE SHIT outta that kit. But he was as tight as could be. The only sloppiness I heard throughout the set were a few guitar flubs which I’ve heard before on other recorded performances of theirs. Minor mistakes for being such a tight group all around.

Thomas Mars (vox) was in full Mick Jagger mode. Windmilling his mic, foot up on his monitor, and heading out into the crowd (twice) to stand up on possibly some part of the mixing rig. This all stirred the crowd up into a frenzy.

Aside from them performing ‘Long Distance Call’ (one of my favorite jams), the lighting might have been the coolest part of the experience. It was spectacular and only got better as the night went on. They used the half shell ring surrounding the stage to their complete advantage. Best part might have been when they were performing ‘Love Like a Sunset, Pt. 1’ and this bright, white light that filled up the outer ring crept up from the stage towards the center like a computer progress bar loading up a lead-in to some sort of awesomeness. (which of course it did) Amanda, of Tadpole Audio is quite an opinionated critic at times, and was in attendance that night and gave them an “A+ for lighting and use of venue architecture”. I’m right there with you Amanda.

The night closed out with everyone on their feet rocking along to ‘1901’. It was the perfect end to their powerhouse set of songs everyone wanted to hear. For a band who’s been around for as long they have, it seems they are just finding their groove. All I hope is that these Frenchman can keep it up and continue delivering amazing nights of music to the rest of the lucky folks throughout the rest of their fall tour.

Phoenix – Long Distance Call

Hollywood Bowl, I will be back…

4 Responses to “A night at the Hollywood Bowl”

  1. Christopher Owens says:

    Thanks for the nice review, glad you enjoyed the set, it was our pleasure. Don’t worry, i’m not a smelly dude 🙂
    until next time -Christopher

  2. Simon White says:

    i can attest to the fact all of Girls smell delightful.
    Great review of a special night.

    Simon White (co-manager of Phoenix)

  3. […] to catch the opening night of their tour when it kicked off at the famous Hollywood Bowl in LA. My review of the evening prompted comments from Christopher Owens (lead vox and guitar of Girls) and co-manager of Phoenix, […]

  4. @Simon – lol. How delightful is that smell of the Hollywood Bowl Girls?

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