Summer is coming to an end, and with it some of my favorite things about being in Los Angeles at this time of year, like the outdoor summer concerts that take advantage of the clear, crisp nights of the city. The best part about a majority of these concerts is that they are inexpensive and often free! What most attracts me to these summertime music events is reaffirmed each time I attend one: that music has the profound ability to bring people from all different backgrounds and ages together. It builds a sense of community, which is no easy task in a city as extensive as Los Angeles. Music reminds us to celebrate our lives, the people around us, and the beautiful city we are given the opportunity to live in. While there are many free summer offerings all over Los Angeles, each one offers a unique type of experience from the other.
Last year, as part of my Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship at the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, I was able to watch a Grand Performances: Lunch Box Noon Concert featuring the pop-folk band The Belle Brigade. The downtown Los Angeles atmosphere, with its tall, gleaming buildings that enclosed the outdoor concert, provided a feeling of togetherness and acted as an oasis to the chaotic and constant flux of its metropolitan surroundings. Set up next to an outdoor fountain, the small amphitheater allowed audience members to congregate in a more intimate space, where children, teens, and adults alike could sing along and dance all while enjoying their lunch boxes, which were handed out to audience members prior to the show. Set appropriately at noon, the performance took advantage of the perpetual sunshine this city is known for.
It was awesome to see my summer music experience come full-circle, when, while working as the Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern at the Skirball this summer, The Belle Brigade kicked off their Sunset Concerts series on July 25. As this was my first Sunset Concerts experience, I really did not know what to expect from this outdoor, all-ages music event. Unsurprisingly, in a similar way to their performance at last year’s Grand Performances concert, The Belle Brigade was able to make audience members dance and smile with their infectious melodies and catchy lyrics. The warm, starry night enveloped the attendees, providing a comforting and carefree vibe. The Taper courtyard filled with people of all backgrounds and ages: a family with four kids, racing each other from the parking lot to the venue; a young couple with their own picnic; and even local band Harriet, who played the Skirball’s Into the Night: Secrets and Truth concert not too long ago. Colorful lights bounced off the rounded walls of the courtyard and Christmas lights twinkled and snaked around the Jacaranda trees, emphasizing the vibrant setting of Sunset Concerts. The show started as the sun began to set and the sky naturally lit the stage, which was built over the reflecting pool. The Belle Brigade’s songs mirrored the laid-back tone of Los Angeles summers, and when the band played their single “Where Not to Look for Freedom,” it took me back to last summer, when I first heard that same song at the Grand Performances concert. Standing closer to the stage, I could hear the echoes of the frogs that call the reflecting pool their home, adding yet another unique factor to the night. Towards the end of the set, most of the audience had left their seats and opted for a spot on the dance floor to better enjoy the band’s sounds. It’s great that such an upbeat and meaningful vibe can be produced by making music so accessible to the community.
Summer may be coming to an end, but the summer concert season is not officially over yet! Don’t miss out tonight when bands Jenny O., In the Valley Below, and Body Parts; KCRW DJ Travis Holcombe; Julianna Parr of Craftnight; Dr. Seuss; live wild animals; and more takeover the Skirball’s campus for a late-night party: Into the Night: The Wild Side. I’ll be there’s—still some summer celebrating to do!
Ashley Kusuma was the 2013 Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern for the Communications and Marketing Department. Having grown up in Indonesia, she enjoys learning about other cultures and being outside enjoying the warm California sun. A 2013 graduate from UCLA studying psychology, she enjoys traveling, stories, learning new things, and exploring the adventures Los Angeles has to offer!