August 27, 2005

Worst fucking night at the Bowl (WARNING: LONG RANT AHEAD)

First of all, I want to say that I love the Hollywood Bowl. After a long week at work, I love the Friday nights we pack some food up and drive up the hill to enjoy dinner and music under the stars. It usually cheers me up if I'm in a bad mood and it takes a lot to ruin a night at the Bowl.

That being said, tonight has sucked. i'm frickin' blogging during intermssion and wishing we weren’t stack parked so we can leave this shitty experience behind us. Firework conclusion & awesome musicianship be damned. Make the idiots in the audience disappear and I'm golden.

The evening started out nice enough until the people sitting next to us showed up. At first I was glad because we usually sit next to Guy Who Talks To Everyone Around Us. He's annoying during dinner but fine during the show, so I don't mind him that much. An older couple showed up: they were quiet-looking folk. I got my hopes up too quickly. I found out quickly that the woman next to me had the world's worst halitosis. I should've listened to my instincts and changed seats then, but I pay for my seats to be where they are and I wanted my nice view of the concert and fireworks so I stayed thinking that the worst I had to deal with was some old lady's bad breath.


The program tonight was entitled La Dolce Vita: Italian Cool on a Hot Summer Night, one of the most interesting and accessible programs we've attended all summer. Check out the program:

Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
John Mauceri, conductor
John Pizzarelli, special guest
Bruce Dukov, violin


Morricone, arr. Mancini: Main Title, "The Untouchables"
Morricone: Cinema Paradiso
Rota, arr. Mauceri: The Godfather
Rota, arr. Mancini: La Dolce Vita
Presenting John Pizzarelli: Selections to be announced from the stage
Respighi: Pines of Rome

Nothing is more dazzling than a sensual evening of Italian style: the gondolas of Venice, the monuments of Rome or the tiny cafes of Little Italy in New York City. John Pizzarelli, guitarist and vocalist from "the First Family of Cool," joins John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for a night with a soundtrack both timeless and fresh - a brand new suite from The Godfather trilogy, music from Ennio Morricone’s most beloved films, and a fireworks display that will bring out the amore in everyone.

The performance began smoothly from the Star Spangled Banner to the two Morricone pieces, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was spectacular, bringing the scores of the movie marvels to life before us.

John Mauceri introduced The Godfather arrangement with a bit of Nino Rota/Godfather history, splicing in a personal story: his own grandfather arrived in the United States from Italy 100 years ago, playing and teaching violin and conducting his own ensemble around the Northeast. On the giant screens, they showed an old photograph of John's grandfather surrounded by his music students... one of them being a young boy (John's own now-91-year-old father). John arranged tonight's music, dedicating it to his grandfather. (Yes, the crowded oohed and applauded. As did I.)

Now, how was this wonderful piece of music ruined? Halitosis Lady began humming to the Godfather music, becoming especially loud and off-key when the famous theme was on. I restrained myself from punching her. (Isn't it a good thing that my Mom taught me that punching little old ladies is rude?) Yoshi tried to shush her. And she continued to do it. We weren't the only ones who did not enjoy this. But I was next to her. And. I. Hate. People. Who. Don't. Know. Appropriate. Performance. Etiquette.

I thought that moving on to the less-well-known La Dolce Vita music would bring some sort of respite from the humming... which (luckily) it did... for a bit. Unfortunately, the girl who arrived late to the concert in the row directly us decided to open her cellophane-wrapped food and eat it noisily during the show. Just because you didn't have dinner before the concert doesn't mean you should eat it during the performance, stupid chick! The appropriate thing would have been to wait until intermission, but shushing and evil glances did not stop Plastic Rustling Eating Girl from continuing her dinner during the music and THEN begin slapping her leg (not really) to the beat of the music. That was it.

As soon as the house lights went up for intermission I said, "Let's get out of these seats." I high-tailed it down the stairs so I could get the hell away from those annoying people.

We headed to some (mostly) empty benches toward the side (obstructed view) seats. As I headed up the stairs, I asked Yoshi where we should sit. Yoshi said I should pick, so I selected an empty row about 5 rows back. There were people in every row in front of that and one guy in a green shirt sitting in the row behind us. As I sat myself down in a space that I thought wasn't in front of Green Shirt Guy, Yoshi shooed me further down the bench. I was confused. I hadn't even gotten situated and I was going to make sure I wasn't blocked that dude's view. Too bad for me, Green Shirt Guy was really Asshole Green Shirt Guy. As I was messing with my pile of stuff (bag of food, bag of water, purse, and sweatshirt) and evidently sitting my big head directly in his view, he must have given me a look that Yoshi caught and I didn't.

With some minor protestation (but not much because Yoshi was very grumpy and forceful that I SHOULD MOVE DOWN THE BENCH OUT OF THIS GUY'S WAY), I tried to explain that I wasn't trying to pick the one spot that was in the way and that if Yoshi didn't want me to pick where we sat, then maybe Yoshi shouldn't tell me I should pick and then tell me to move if that location wasn't ideal. Yoshi said (loud enough for the Asshole Green Shirt Guy to hear) "I don't care where we sit but if that guy hadn't been an ass, I wouldn't have told you to move."

At this point, I was pissed off. I was already having a bad time at the concert due to stupid inconsiderate people in the audience and here I was being treated like *I* was doing the same thing. We had the entire fucking intermission, 15 rows of empty benches, and 20 something empty seats per empty bench to adjust seats if I was in someone's way. I hadn't been sitting more than 2 seconds when I evidently pissed off Asshole Green Shirt Guy because I wanted to just sit and put my shit down. If I had been given the chance to look the around, I would have most likely adjusted my seat to NOT be anywhere near this guy's view anyway.

I announced loudly, "If we weren't in fucking stacked parking, I would leave right now." And I meant it. Yoshi agreed, "Me too."

I sat and fumed for another 30 seconds or so and then I stood up and turned around and said, "Sir, I just want to apologize because I really didn't realize I was sitting in your way. It was not my intention to sit in the one seat blocking your view." I was mad, but it was true, and I did feel like I owed him that much of an apology.

Asshole Green Shirt Guy probably heard all the bickering between me and Yoshi because he said, "It's ok. I'm sorry I made it into more than what it was." I guess that's equivalent to "I'm sorry that my behavior was that of a dickwad." and really, I was sick of people at that moment so I just sat down and grabbed Yoshi's PDA so I could start blogging.

Anyway, I never got over the grumpiness caused by all of this. The funny part was that later on (either during intermission or possibly during the second half of the program) a couple sat down at the end of the bench where I had been planning to sit. And seeing as I'm barely over 5 feet tall, it's quite likely that those other people blocked more view than I did. The 2nd half of the program was actually quite enjoyable because I was less pissed after the John Pizzarelli (fun performer) and the Respighi ("The Pines of Rome" is one of my top 25 pieces of classical music). But I didn't enjoy the fireworks as much (obstructed view and still irritated).

On the bright side, the two cars parked behind us left early and we only had to wait in the car a few minutes before we could back out and leave the Bowl. We were home in 8 minutes. A record.

We have one Bowl performance this season before our subscription is up. I'm seriously thinking of buying a whole block of cheap-ass back section tickets equivalent to the price of these tickets so that I don't have to sit near anyone next year. Hmmph.

Posted by jozjozjoz at August 27, 2005 12:18 AM


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Oh, man, are you kidding? That sounds like a Good night at the Bowl compared to what I experienced there. I have one friend who loves the Bowl. I've always kinda liked it. But most of my friends hate it, hate it, hate, won't go there, they refuse. But my one friend prevailed and tried to get us all -- about 10 of us get together every couple of months just to say hi, so we don't have to do it at funerals -- well, only three agreed to attend. We were supposed to meet at 6:30 for a picnic before the 8 o'clock show. I was at Wilshire and Highland at 6. I crawled up Highland for an hour and parked at 7. When the attendant asked me for $13, I said: "That's so expensive." She said: "And that's the nicest way anyone's ever put that." We got tickets for Section S. $12 or something like that. Then another $9 for a stale turkey sandwich. So we had time to picnic for a few minutes -- fortunately, D. brought the wine. If I'd had to buy wine, plus the parking, the ticket and the sandwich I would've spent my whole summer entertainment budget there. Then we got to our seats. Which, mercifully, were in splendid isolation. Which I'm told is one of the advantages of section S.

Here are the disadvantages of section S.

You can barely hear the music. I mean really. And I grew up going to the Hollywood Bowl when I was thinking I was going to become a musician. I thought that's how an orchestra sounds. Dude, that's not how an orchestra sounds in a real concert hall. I know, it's not a real concert hall, but still. By now I had spent, what, $35, and I couldn't hear the orchestra. I'm told it's not all that much better a few sections lower. At one point, when the crickets got going, they were drowning out the quiet passages the orchestra was playing. And the mockingbird: Completely. (Although I did get to entertain my friends by telling them: "Hey, that mockingbird's going to go back to the nest tonight and tell his family: Man, it was Gershwin night at the Hollywood Bowl! I got to sing along with Gershwin! That was great!" And he didn't have to pay $13 to park.

But the worst part is the screen. Sure, you say, don't look. But every now and then you do look
and by the time the sound has gotten to you, it's slightly -- ever so slightly -- out of sync with the screen. My other friend (a professional musician) said: I can't look. It's making me sick.

After the concert, I sat in the stacked parking for 20 minutes before we started to move. I followed the car in front of me, like you'd think you were supposed to. Well, at the left turn, the drive of the car on my right thought I was trying to cut her off. Which I wasn't. I was just following the car in front of me. So she starts yelling at me: "WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?" I look over. It's an old lady. She's got her left front bumper locked against my right front bumper. She's pushing. Fuck, I'm thinking. Fuck. Fuck. I thought there'd be damage (not that I care, I drive a junker, but who knows? maybe she writes my license down and reports me for hit and run?) Fortunately, the nightmare ended without further incident a few minutes later when I exited onto Highland.

I'll never go again. Ever. You'd have to drag me there, like I used to drag my girlfriend (who won't go anymore, period, not even when I try to drag her.)

You're suprised by singing halitosis lady and green shirt guy? I'm not surprised at all. Who would put up with the shit they dish out at the Hollywood Bowl. Idiots. It's an audience full of idiots. That they don't know not to clap between movements is one thing. That it's just a horrible, horrible concertgoing experience, well, fuck.

I do remember that I used to love going to the Bowl. Fuck.

Posted by: The_Raven at August 27, 2005 08:34 PM


Thanks for sharing. I don't blame you for not wanting to go back to the Bowl. The audience DOES suck. But to be fair, the screens are much better now (I sat is Section W or something a few months ago and all 4 screens are timed right.) Also, the sound tubes (which make the Bowl look ugly) do seem to fix the sound coming from the stage.

Nonetheless, you are right, the crickets are loud and they gouge you on parking and food. That is why I bring food and chalk up the cost of parking with the ticket price.

And I wasn't surprised by halitosis lady and green shirt guy. I was just disappointed because I'd lucked out the whole season so far and had moderately good to great times every time. I can live with the expensive parking (there are options if you don't want to pay $14) or the high-priced food, but the worst part of the Bowl, in my opinion, has to be the audience.

P.S. - If I were a true music snob, I'd not go to the Bowl at all. I know that that's not what a "real" orchestra sounds like!

Posted by: :: jozjozjoz :: at August 27, 2005 11:50 PM

Wasn't trying to argue with you, was trying to express some sympathy and understanding. Solidarity among the victims. When I used to come from the Valley, I'd take the park and ride from Chatsworth, and that solved the $13 parking problem, although it presented other problems of its own. I work on the Miracle Mile, now, though, and I hadn't sussed out the park and ride options because well, it's practically down the street. But never again if I can avoid it.

Posted by: The_Raven at August 28, 2005 10:56 AM

That place sounds like fun.

Posted by: Deltus at August 28, 2005 11:01 AM

I love the bowl ... and am one day going to kill someone there. What can we do about the singing along/talking/sitting down late/crinkling plastic people? They are so inconsiderate it makes me want to scream ...

Posted by: a at August 28, 2005 02:39 PM

I don't notice any of those issues when I go to the Bowl - but I go to the rock shows, not the symphany. Video screens are good enough, sound is quite loud, and the crowd is there for a good time and isn't bothered by chatting. I always buy the cheap seats and can easily find a seat closer to the stage. And, look at a Google map - I am not going to say where, but there is decent free parking in the residential area on the other side of Cahuenga.

Posted by: alex rose at August 29, 2005 08:35 AM

Yeah, it's fine for rock shows.

Posted by: The_Raven at August 29, 2005 09:08 AM

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