Summer isn’t truly summer in Los Angeles without a night at The Hollywood Bowl, and you’ve still got a couple months to get yourself there. On a 72-degree evening under starlight this week, Gregory Porter (who I interviewed here last year) shared a night of Nat King Cole’s music with a crowd captivated by every basso profuno note.
The evening began with a first-for-me preshow dining experience at Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s new al fresco restaurant, The Backyard, in a chic perch above the box seats. The space has two wood-burning grills for steaks, fish and vegetables, and, yes, the greatest sound system and entertainment of any restaurant in the city.
It all made me want to see every Bowl show between now and fall. Here are a few highlights of what’s coming up, based on your various late-summer concert needs.
For a Blow-Out Date Night
Why not add some pyrotechnics, and maybe a few cannon shots, to your evening out? The combination of Tchaikovsky, the L.A. Philharmonic and conductor Gustavo Dudamel is enough to make this an annual classic. The night of familiar overtures (1812, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet) ends with a fireworks spectacular and your plus-one leaning in for a Russian bear hug. Bonus: The USC Trojan Marching Band brings the brass and boom-boom-wow. August 24 and 25 at 8 p.m.
For the Love of Yoda
The unrivaled master of movie scores, John Williams, celebrates 40 years of playing the Bowl with a night of popcorn-worthy classics alongside clips from the little no-budget independent movies he scored, including Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T., Jaws, Home Alone and Harry Potter. Bring some butter beer and your light saber. August 31 through September 2 at 8 p.m.
For Le Bon Temps Roule
In honor of the tricentennial of New Orleans, the Bowl invited one of its favorites, Harry Connick, Jr., for three NOLA-themed nights of Dixieland, jazz and barrel house rock. Shows open with Bonerama, a trombone touring band that does not skimp on bringing the funk. September 7 – 9 at 8 p.m.
For a Blast from Your ’90s Past
The Bowl shall shaketh to the rafters with Ms. Lauryn Hill celebrating the 20th anniversary of her landmark album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Dave Chappelle hosts with a guest appearance by jubilant, hyper-literate fun-makers, De La Soul, and other surprise performances. This I’d love to see. September 18 at 8 p.m.
For Your Fav-or-ite Things
Let the couch ‘taters stay home playing Netflix & chill. Better to get out with friends and family for a group do-re-mi at the annual von-Trapp-athon, better known as Sing-a-Long Sound of Music. It’s a kitschy, camp spectacle with dress-up contests, inside-the-Alps shtick and way too much merriment at the Nazi scenes. Melissa Peterman is the evening’s host. September 22 at 6 p.m.
For Your Herbal-Enhanced Delight
It’s legal in Cali, so enjoy the freedom of the green with country music’s Darth Vaper and members of The (Not-Quite) Dead. Closing out the Bowl’s 2018 program, the Outlaw Music Festival Tour features Willie Nelson & Family, the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh & Friends, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and Particle Kid. You can show up at 4:20 but the concert doesn’t begin until 5 p.m. on October 21.