By Natalie Grace Sipula
[3.5 minute read]
The summer leading up to my first year at USC, I remember planning out all of the exciting things I would do once I arrived in Los Angeles. Alongside attending an amazing university, I was excited about getting to experience all of the exciting culture and character of LA as a USC student for the next four years. While some of my time in LA has unfortunately been spent during the Covid-19 pandemic, I am lucky to have gotten to see and do some pretty amazing things before the pandemic began or when LA county deemed it safe for certain attractions and activities to reopen. As an avid music lover, one of my favorite pastimes is going to live concerts. Luckily, there is always amazing talent performing in LA at any given time. Here are a few of my favorite concert-going experiences of the past couple years.
My first real concert experience in LA was in October 2019, when I saved up money to see Lana Del Rey perform at the Hollywood Bowl around the time of my 19th birthday. Lana Del Rey is one of my absolute favorite artists who I’ve been listening to since I was in middle school, so when I found out she would be performing in LA the week of my birthday I knew I had to get a ticket. I took the Metro with a friend to Hollywood and we walked to the Hollywood Bowl from there. We found our seats and even though they were about 250 rows back, I was so excited to be there I didn’t care. Lana sang a few songs from her earlier records, but mostly performed songs from her latest album at the time, Norman F****** Rockwell. Her voice was just as effervescent and melodic in person as it is on her albums, and the venue added an especially awesome ambience as it was outdoors and the Hollywood sign was glowing in the background nestled amongst the Hollywood hills. Beyond that, another exciting aspect of seeing concerts in LA is that, because so many celebrities live here, artists will sometimes bring other musicians they have collaborated with on stage with them! At this concert, Lana Del Rey also sang with Jesse Rutherford of The Neighbourhood (one of my favorite bands!) and Zella Day.
One of my favorite concerts I have been to is one I went to this past September—Glass Animals. Glass Animals is an indie rock band from the UK who has most recently been known for their single “Heat Waves” from their 2020 album Dreamland. I’ve been a fan of Glass Animals since high school, and particularly love their debut studio album Zaba, which has a sound I would describe as tropical-cool and mysterious. The band performed songs off of all of their albums during this concert, which was held outside at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which is definitely one of the more unique venues I’ve been to and added a great ambience. I got lucky for this concert as Glass Animals performed two concerts in LA that weekend and I attended the second one on a Sunday, so the crowd wasn’t quite as big and I was able to get only three rows back from the stage! Lead singer Dave Bayley was one of the best performers I’ve seen yet, interacting with the crowd and dancing to the music throughout the show. The live performance definitely added an element to the music that I hadn’t seen before.
My most recent concert experience was a bit further outside of the city than the others. I went to Rolling Loud music festival in San Bernardino, which is a festival known for hosting an elite lineup of hip-hop artists. I saw so many great artists that weekend, Trippie Redd, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Jack Harlow, and J. Cole to name a few. The festival took place on the outskirts of the city of San Bernardino. Because the city is in an area that is mostly desert, it gets a bit cold at night, so if you decide to attend this festival I would recommend bringing a warm jacket to wear once the sun sets. Overall, it was an amazingly fun experience, and if you have a car or go with a group of friends in a car, the trip is about an hour and half drive from USC. This isn’t too bad, especially if you stay in a hotel near the festival so you don’t have to drive home at night and can attend all three days of the festival without having to account for travel time.
If you are a current student at USC or live in LA, I highly recommend taking advantage of all of the great live music and performances the city has to offer. While I highlighted a few of my particular favorites, there are so many more wonderful ones to see. Be sure to follow LA county pandemic guidelines to gauge if it is safe to attend performances. One of the great things about LA weather is that it allows concerts to be outside pretty much year-round, making concert-going safer while the Covid-19 pandemic is still a presence in all of our lives. Happy concert-going!
Natalie is a junior studying Philosophy, Politics, and Law and Spanish and plans to pursue a career in criminal or immigration law. She is from Cleveland, OH and is a Presidential Scholar studying in Thematic Option. Natalie is an active member of Phi Alpha Delta, Trojan Scholars Society, USC Model UN, QuestBridge Scholars, Gamma Phi Beta. Growing up she was dedicated to theatre, including studying and performing at Cleveland Play House. She is a volunteer camp counselor with Mi Pueblo Culture Camp in Cleveland. Since arriving in Los Angeles she has enjoyed volunteering with Angel City Pit Bulls animal shelter and in her free time enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and learning to play the acoustic guitar!