Bart and I have been to the Hollywood Bowl dozens of times for a wide variety of musicians – from Sting with Peter Gabriel with my sister to Gustavo Dudamel to the night of our first “date that wasn’t a date” where we saw Etta James. We call that one our Ettaversary (July 27, 2005), but that’s another story.
We love the Bowl. Some of the best parts of the Bowl experience include:
- PICNIC outside the venue. When we go with our friends Maggie & Gary, everyone brings something, and we meet at a picnic table to snack and drink wine.
- Bringing wine INTO the Bowl. You can’t do this for EVERY event, but for most you’re allowed to bring that picnic inside. We even got to share a box seat (those are closer to the stage) one night and bring a full picnic in there.
- Dancing in the aisles. For the Peter Gabriel / Sting show with my sister and brother-in-law, we spent a good deal of the show in the walkway between sections (along with many others) dancing.
- Outdoor acoustics and view. The Bowl is a perfectly setup amphitheater situated in the hills in Los Angeles and watching the sun go down is absolutely gorgeous. For those who can’t afford a box seat, there are huge monitors around the sides and there’s honestly not a bad seat for sound. Though it CAN get cold when the sun goes down, it’s also fun to bundle up and just BE outside listening to awesome music.
To be fair, parking stinks. There’s stacked parking at the venue, where we once got stuck when we went to see Crosby Stills Nash & Young (not MY pick but Bart loves them and it was part of their last tour together). Long story. OR you can pay an arm + leg to park nearby OR you can park farther away and walk uphill a long ways. OR you can Uber/Lyft over and get stuck in traffic in a stranger’s car.
Anyway, that’s also not the story here.
Here we go:
As luck would have it, we ended up with 4 tickets to see Tom Petty on Friday, September 21 that my husband bought months ago, and our friends weren’t able to join. In a rare, brave moment, I said to Bart, “Well, we could take the kids. They’ve never been.”
Remember my husband? He thinks they’re teenagers and that’s why we brought them to Europe… So of course he instantly said YES.
And (arguably unlike Europe), this time he was right. We had a blast! Let me also add here, we did NOT kill Tom Petty. And also, that he did not appear to be sick or having trouble, and the performance was terrific. When we parked down the street at the VFW, the lady there said, “Well, I hope you have a good performance tonight. I heard last night he was drunk and belligerent.” He wasn’t even THAT. In fact, he said Thank You quite often and sent good wishes to everyone impacted by the hurricanes.
Anyway, as you likely now know, this was one of his last concerts ever. Very sad. He died on October 2nd and while his cause of death is not official as of today, he was taken to the hospital in “full cardiac arrest”. I’m sure there will be some story there, but regardless, very sad. I have the fondest of memories of listening to Tom Petty with my sister growing up. RIP.
Here are a couple of minutes of Free Fallin’, the last song we saw before leaving:
We had a really fun picnic before the show, during which Zoe and Ella performed an impromptu survey of nearby picnics to ask their favorite Tom Petty songs. Super cute. The show opened with Lucinda Williams, who Bart introduced me to early in our relationship and we both like, and she has some sassy lyrics, which of course no adult notices until their children are listening.
Then the sun went down and the kids fell asleep after just 2 Tom Petty songs – yes, in middle of a super loud concert with people around them standing, singing and clapping. Which of course meant we stayed for a few more songs, with children asleep in our laps, enjoying the music.
We hiked back down to the car, Zoe sleeping in the stroller, Ella sleeping in an Ergobaby attached to my body. It was a great night :) And even though at a recent trip to the Apple Store, our friendly (young) helper had no idea who Tom Petty was, our children can say THEY saw him LIVE in his last tour ever.
And we can say we braved the Bowl with 2 small children (let’s be clear, there were NOT a lot of strollers at this show…), and they had a great time.