Dara: Tonight we’re heading back to the Hollywood Bowl to see Chance the Rapper, which we thought would be the perfect time to reminisce on our favorite Hollywood Bowl events of the past year and also give you a run-down of the venue.
TJ: The Hollywood Bowl is the best concert venue in Los Angeles. It’s the largest outdoor amphitheater in the United States, with about 18,000 seats, set into the hills of Hollywood. It’s very well known for the cool art deco Frank Lloyd Wright designed shell around its stage. Built in the 1920’s, it’s hosted tons of the incredible acts: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Monty Python, Kanye West and more. And it’s the summer home for the LA Philharmonic. Recently they’ve had Tom Petty, in his las concert ever (RIP), Jack Johnson, Solange, Yo Yo Ma, and John Williams.
Dara: The first time I went to the Hollywood Bowl was to see Kygo about a year ago. WME reps him and had extra tickets to the show so a bunch of us assistants got to go to for free.
TJ: He had a great DJ set, with a bunch of special guests who appeared throughout the show. My favorite by far was Seal coming out to perform a live remix of “Sexual Healing.”
We also just saw Beach House and Fleet Foxes there a couple weeks ago, which has been my favorite so far because it wasn’t a “lease event” and therefore we could bring in our own wine and drinks to the venue and picnic out!
That’s right – for most events, the Hollywood Bowl is BYOB. You can bring dinner, snacks, wine, beer, liquor, anything you want in to the amphitheater. If you’d rather picnic before the concert, there’s tons of space outside the amphitheater where people will hang out for hours before the event starts.
But make sure to check the rules for each show because “lease events” in which 3rd parties lease the space, don’t allow BYOB. You can usually still bring in food for all of them but they’re a lot stricter about what’s allowed.
And if you forget to bring food to the event, don’t worry because the venue is littered with various food and dining options that sell wine, beer, and amazing food. We normally bring our own in though because it is a bit expensive to buy there.
Not only does the Hollywood Bowl host concerts, but they also have special events there too. The first time I ever went to the Hollywood Bowl was for a screening of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY with the LA Philharmonic playing the score live. It was absolutely sensational. Their entire film and LA Phil series usually is.
I also dragged TJ along to a lease event called The Little Mermaid Live, in which we watched the movie on the screens around the Bowl and various stars came out and sang the musical numbers live on stage.
The main reason I wanted to go was to see Darren Criss, who was an AMAZING Prince Charming. His co-stars were Sara Bareilles as Ariel, Rebel Wilson as Ursula, and Tituss Burgess as Sebastian.
The show itself was good family fun, but my favorite part was the fireworks show the had at the end. It was really long and impressive and they timed the start of the fireworks show with the fireworks that happen in the movie!
In terms of Hollywood Bowl logistics, we recommend arriving really early if you want to drive, as the traffic around the bowl before concerts tends to be really insane and all of the lots fill up fast, opening 4 hours before the concert. (Not to mention that the lots are stacked so if the people in front of you don’t get to their cars before you do when you’re ready to leave, you’re stuck waiting for them!)
You can also use one of the several Park & Ride lots they set up around Los Angeles for events, or even better – Uber to a nearby location and then walk the rest of the way up to the Bowl itself. Up Highland, it’s a short walk up a small hill to the stores and security lines outside the bowl.
Inside, the seats are mostly long, shared benches, and for $1, you can rent seat pads for them. If you want to spend more money to be a little more comfortable, you can also buy Superseats (stadium-style plastic seats) and Box Seats. Those in Box Seats have the option of ordering wine and food ahead of time to be ready for the show.
In terms of ticketing, prices vary wildly between regular shows and lease events and which kind of seats you want. Regular seats can be anywhere from $10 for the nosebleeds to $30 on the side sections to $60 for the middle. And box seats are typically $100 and up.
You can get tickets online of in person, but i’ve never actually seen anyone buy tickets while there.
Either way, it really is worth going even if you have nosebleed seats. The acoustics are amazing, and there’s something so fulfilling about sitting in such a big outdoor venue. It feels much more connected in spirit than a stadium concert, and the sound quality is great since the place was built for exactly this. Plus – and I can’t emphasize it enough – you can bring your own food!
Never underestimate the power of picnicking with friends while listening to your favorite artists or watching your favorite movie being brought to life. They’ve been some of my best LA experiences so far, and I can’t wait to do it again seeing Chance tonight.