What a day. I honestly couldn't think of the last time I went to Los Angeles- still can't...but it has been years. I was excited all summer about having purchased tickets to the Arcade Fire & LCD Soundsystem show in LA, but for some reason, when the day came, I was only mildly excited about it. I think it might've had to do with my experience at Wilco...overhyping a situation in my head so much that I couldn't be anything but let down.
Natalie and Joe were kind enough to let me tag along with them to LA. I met Nat at 12:30, by 1:30 we met Joe at UCSD and were on our way to Los Angeles. A short two hours later, with various music CDs and Sirius' "left of center" as our soundtrack, we stopped at our first destination: Amoeba Records. We spent nearly an hour going through their thousands of CDs and I kept grabbing stuff to buy, only to talk myself out of it. I have so much music to listen to at the moment, and I just didn't want to add anything new until I properly get through what I have, though I was really tempted by some bargain buys, some out of print selections, and I really want the new anniversary edition of Counting Crows "August And Everything After," a disc that was a huge part of my life in high school...but I resisted and browsed and let them do the buying while I read the Onion.
From Amoeba we went to a British pub called the Cat & Fiddle just a couple blocks west on Sunset. There was a nice patio so we had a light meal and hung out, killing time until 6, our meeting time set with Kristian. Heather, a girl I'd met at a party was there, which felt random enough, but as we were finishing up our lunches, who should walk into the place but Tim Pyles and Owen Salerno from 94/9. Coincidence or stars aligned, I dunno. Funny thing was there was another guy there, Roman, that Tim knew from SD who lives in LA now. Crazy how small this world is.
We wrapped things up and headed to Kristian's who lives in the Los Feliz area of LA. The plan was to park there and ride the Metro to the show. Shortly after arriving, a gaggle of K's friends arrived, we hit the well stocked liquor store on the corner to get drinks for the show, and we were almost on our way, when Pete, Kristian's friend who bought my extra ticket, got a call from a friend who lived across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, that he was saving a spot for us.
Nat, Joe and I went with Pete while everyone else took the Metro. Pete was a really cool guy and ended up being a great person to share the concert with, but man...LA drivers. He navigated well, but those red lights on the car in front of us? Yeah, they're brake lights. You probably shouldn't approach them at 45 mph on city streets. I get carsick very easily and it wasn't until we parked, walked into the venue, found our seats (passing by the House Party girls, Amanda and Heather), and cracked open the first beer that my heart finally went back to a normal rate.
A funny thing happened, again, coincidence or cosmos? But I really had no idea where my seats were, since there's lettered sections, numbered rows, and numbered box seats, but when Kristian and I had purchased our tickets, we tried to compare where we were. I thought he was going to be in one of the closer boxes than us, but was content to take in the show with Pete. Turned out that their box was one row back from us, and one spot over, so we were diagonal from all of them for the duration of the show.
I was glad that they'd tipped us off about bringing our own alcohol to the show and it's really amazing to me, coming from uptight San Diego where certain promoters and venues would have everyone cavity searched if they could, to walk in with a cooler of 8 tall boy Pilsner Urquell's, a camera, and snacks, and for it to be totally ok. There are people searching when you enter who "search" bags, but my guess is that it's pretty superficial and they're looking out more for weapons than anything else. And since the security was on my left and my bags hooked on my right shoulder, they didn't even see my bags and we walked right in. Kristian and his group had a case of Two Buck Chuck in their booth and drank it like Kool-Aid. Other people had full ice chests, food, and in the middle of LCD someone nearby busted out a bucket of KFC. I guess they got the munchies from all the weed people were casually smoking.
We missed the first band (Wild Lights?) but were there in time for all of LCD Soundsystem. It's no secret that I'm not a dance music girl, and for some reason I wrote off the band years ago. I mean, I loved "North American Scum" this year, but I just don't know how nobody ever turned me on to their glory. The singer looks more like a soccer dad than the lead of such a raucous band and he'd say things between the set like "You wanna know something really funny? This is our job! To play this music for you. How cool is that?" And 13,574 fans went crazy. I guess I also had this preconceived notion that they were synthy and electronic, when in reality they are a full band with amazing pieces that make the whole. What planet have I been on, really? I mean, it's embarassing to admit how clueless about them I was.
Anyway, they played a full set and I was cozied up in my little terrace box with my hoodie and my beer and Pete thought I looked bored. "I'm dancing on the inside," I replied, and he seemed to know exactly what I meant.
After the set we joined the mobs on the patio for our one celebrity sighting, Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight on NBC's "The Office". Then some guy walked by in sunglasses and I couldn't stop laughing. Maybe he was "someone" too, but it was really dark everywhere. Sunglasses at night. I was clearly in LA. In all fairness though, the crowd was cool and as it goes, everyone saw someone they knew so introductions were plentiful throughout the evening. I ran into Tim and Owen again and we chatted for a bit. They told us they talked to the guy from The Office, but it turns out it was one of the writers who was also at the show. Before we knew it the time to take our seats for Arcade Fire.
Part of my "excitement suppression" about this show was because I knew in my heart that there was no way this show could top the show at Spreckels in April, especially since I was privy to catch part of their sound check, so I won't even compare the two because it's apples and oranges, really. Still, this set struck a chord. No "religious experience" this time, but the hair on my arms definitely stood up at some peak moments in the show. They kicked off the show with "Black Mirror" and sounded great. Regine looked pretty in a green dress and dancing around during certain songs, and I was entertained by Will on the side of the stage playing all of his various instruments with the energy and enjoyment that the 3 year olds at my mom's daycare have when they get to beat a drum. I feel like the sound could've been a bit louder in the venue but really, I have no complaints about the Hollywood Bowl. (though sorry I don't have better pics)
Here's the Setlist (borrowed from an AF fansite):
1. Black Mirror
2. Keep The Car Running
3. Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)
4. No Cars Go
6. Intervention (dedicated to Jeb Bush)
7. (Antichrist Television Blues)
8. My Body Is A Cage
10. Ocean Of Noise
11. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
12. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
13. Rebellion (Lies)
14. The Well And The Lighthouse
15. Wake Up
We knew that there was a 30% chance of rain, so it was a little chilly. The band joked about the weather, saying that was the closest we'd ever get to knowing winter. But the sky was clear and the moon hung overhead till it dropped out behind the hills. But just before the encore, the sky got ominous and it was really beautiful while the crowd belted out along with "Wake Up."
And there's a cross on a hill in the distance that seemed to just be sitting in the middle of the sky.
So maybe I had my "religious experience" after all.
I was really having a great time at the show but all things must end. I found out that Kristian "got lost" and left the show, and his friends all had rides back to the house, so we were on our own to figure out how to get back to Joe's car parked at Kristian's house. Pete had driven us to the show but lived in the opposite direction. The cosmos at work again, apparently, and I ran into Tim and Owen again, contacted Pete and Natalie, and before we knew it, we were in the parking lot bumping into Eric, Matt and Dee.
Owen and Tim dropped the three of us of on Hollywood and Highland so we could catch the Metro back to Los Feliz.
Being LA, I'm a little bummed I didn't get a better picture of this ridiculous hummer limo making a 9 point turn onto Hollywood.
It was my first time on the Metro so I had to capture that as well...
Finally our train arrived.
And that was pretty much the end of the night. We walked to Kristian's, I picked up my stuff, and we were on our way home to San Diego, though we had to zig zag a little for some freeway closures. I sat in the back of Joe's mini with Miracle Fortress and the National in my iPod, soundtracking the ride home. Big thanks to Joe and Natalie for allowing me to tag along, to Kristian, Villar, Chris and everyone else at the house who helped set the tone of the night for me, to Pete for buying the ticket, for the ride and for being a fun concert bud, and to Pyles and Owen for the ride and just for being who you are. Also, a special shout out to Stef, thanks for checking on Pascha. I don't imagine I'll be in LA anytime soon, but it's really great to know that I've got friends up there.