Summer nights in Los Angeles are filled with outdoor concerts. Thanks to KCRW, many of them are free!
Three Saturdays in July, KCRW and the Annenberg Foundation present a concert series in Century Park titled, “Sound in Focus.” A free, all ages show comprising of bands and photography exhibits. I attended the July 16th event.
When I heard about Sound in Focus, I was excited for two reasons. One, the Brazilian Girls were performing. I love this band and have yet to see them live. Two, you gained free access to the Annenberg Space for Photography. A museum I keep meaning to go to, but have yet to attend. But the event was so much more than I expected.
First, I had to RSVP online with KCRW events. Not sure why, because no one checked my confirmation email at the door, but maybe it’s just to get an idea of how many people are expected to show up. Line-up started at 3:30pm on Saturday. Doors open at 5pm. I arrived somewhere in the middle and the line was around the corner, but moved rather quickly. DJ Aaron Byrd played while the crowd moved inside.
Once inside, I went straight to ID check to
get my wristband for the beer garden.
They had two separate areas featuring beer and wine. The beer garden near The Stand restaurant was crowded but had a better selection, including the Golden Road Brewing Co.
The beer garden near the AOS building was less crowded and had great people watching. Setup directly in front were giant Jenga and Connect Four games, plus some Corn Hole.
Beyond the games was a large lawn were you could spread out a picnic blanket and watch the concert. Food, plastic silverware and sealed water bottles are allowed inside the park. But why lug around all that extra stuff when there are so many yummy food trucks to try?! Being born and raised in New York makes me picky about my pizza. Like, really picky. Like, why eat it if it isn’t perfect, kind of picky. Joe’s Pizza Truck claimed to be a Slice of New York. I must admit, it was damn good. Nice thin crust, not too much sauce and perfect size for folding in half. Which we all know is the only correct way to eat a slice. We ordered three slices and a bottle of water for about $20. Not a bad deal. The other truck that had everyone drooling was Belly BomZ featuring Korean inspired wings and sliders.
After some food and drink it was time to check out the featured exhibit, REFUGEE. This poignant and moving exhibition features many acclaimed photographers as they explore the global refugee crisis. The exhibit covers many personal stories and a full range of refugee experiences. There is also an incredible documentary film that follows the photographers and captures the moments behind the images. I highly recommend this exhibit. It was moving, and inspiring and very human. It is on display through August 21st.
Upon exiting, the first of three bands were already in to their set. I had heard Classixx on KCRW a few times and enjoyed their live set even more. After a short break it was finally time for what I came for, The Brazilian Girls. None of which are actually Brazilian and there is only one girl in the band. But who cares, they are spectacular. If you are unfamiliar with their sultry eclectic blend of house, lounge and pop, go educate yourself. I promise you will fall in love. The last act was Baaba Maal a Senegalese singer and master musician. The entire concert series was a global mix of music that paired perfectly with the photography exhibit.
In fact, everything had a world feel. From the music, to the images, to the food trucks, to the people in attendance. It was all very LA. I mean that in the best of ways. Los Angeles is a city of diversity. It’s one of my favorite parts of living here. You always have the ability to explore something new. To expand your palette and experience something outside your known cultural world.
There is one last weekend of Sound in Focus. This Saturday July 23rd features a DJ set by Garth Trinidad and performances by Wild Belle and Nas. I can’t get Wild Belle’s song, Throw Down Your Guns out of my head, and I’m okay with that. Although the website says RSVPs are closed, you can still go. As I mentioned earlier they didn’t check emails. But go early. As with all the Sound in Focus events, once they hit a capacity limit, that’s it. Doors are closed.
A FEW TIPS FOR ATTENDING SOUND IN FOCUS.
- Arrive early! Parking is only $1 but it’s congested and fills up fast. So carpool with friends, or take an Uber. Also leave your ticket in your car. You need it to exit and if you lose it, it’s $14! The parking entrance on Constellation was way more convenient to the concert line-up line, than on Olympic Blvd.
- Pack light. Yes you can bring food and blankets. But remember each bag has to be thoroughly searched. This delays your entrance. I only had a purse and was waved right on through to security. Think of all that time you wasted, that could have been spent in the beer garden. Plus with so many tasty food trucks to try, why pack snacks?
- Bring cash. Some of the food trucks take cards, some are cash only. The cash only lines are way shorter which means you can feed your belly quicker and get on with the party. Most of the beer gardens accept cards, but again time is not your friend. Cards slow down lines.
Check out all the info for this week’s Sound in Focus event at KCRW. Can’t make it out this Saturday? KCRW offers lots of free events all summer long. Summer Nights is a group of concerts presented all over Los Angeles. From the Santa Monica Pier, to the Hammer museum to Chinatown, there are tons of concerts of varying genres. Even if you are not a KCRW member, you can still join in on the fun!