Tag Archives: performance

LA Experiences: Concert-Going and Live Performances

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 view of the stage at the Hollywood Bowl

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.

Dave Bayley of Glass Animals singing “Heat Waves”

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.

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The Show Must Go On

By Harrison Poe

As the fall semester passes its halfway point, you’ll notice a distinct change in the Theatre students on campus. The circles under their eyes look a bit darker, their voices sound a bit hoarser, and their feet seem a little heavier as they trek from class to class. Their exhaustion is likely due to their impending performances in the weekend. The School of Dramatic Arts produces around nine shows a semester, and students independently produce around five shows a semester. After using the first few weeks of school for rehearsals, the students perform a different play every weekend from the beginning of October up until the weekend before Thanksgiving.

However, the performances aren’t the difficult part. Rehearsing on top of classes can be grueling on a student, especially if they’re taking a full schedule of classes. Last semester, I took three reading-heavy courses, and was required to read a book each week for each of those classes. For any normal student, this would be difficult but achievable. For me, it was impossible. Like this semester, last spring I had classes early in the morning until late in the afternoon, so the only time I could do my homework was after rehearsal at 10pm. After a few weeks of sleepless nights, I vowed never again to have a difficult schedule while performing. In fact, several of my peers chose not to audition for shows because they wanted to focus on their school work. However, which is more important, school work or performing? As a theatre student, performing in a play is an incredibly important part of our education at USC, but on the other hand, we also have classes that teach us how to give better performances if we work hard in the class. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but somehow, we make it work.

Often, Theatre majors are given a hard time by our non-performing peers about our work load. Sure, writing a short analysis of a play might not be as difficult to accomplish and understand as homework for a quantum physics class, but when you consider the amount of free time most actors have in their schedule, the comparison becomes a bit more even. Subliminally, we’re being taught that we have to work hard and fill our schedules if we want to be successful as actors. We have to learn to work late into the night even when we have to wake up early the next morning. We have to learn to give an outstanding performance even when we can barely roll out of bed in the morning. We are taught that skill isn’t the only trait of a good performance. In fact, I’d say effort and perseverance are paramount for any kind of artist.

A few weeks ago, I was taking the bus to school and talking with the bus driver about success. He told me that “each day is a stepping stone to get you where you want to go.” Every long night of homework, every early morning meeting, every late night rehearsal; these are the stepping stones we have. They are slippery and treacherous and demanding, but the show must go on.

Featured image from Pxhere

Harrison is a USC graduate who studied Theatre (BA, Acting) and was a member of the Thematic Option Honors Program. He is from Houston, Texas and grew up playing piano and guitar before transitioning to theatrical performance. Still a lover of music, Harrison plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and electric bass. In addition to smiling and waving his hands on stage, Harrison loves talking to people and learning about different places, cultures, traditions, and histories. One of the main reasons Harrison chose to come to USC and move to Los Angeles was because of the city’s proximity to the film industry. His love of stories gave him a passion for movies, and he tries to see as many as possible.

USC Kazan Taiko

By Erika Gomi

We’re so loud that the university doesn’t want us to practice on campus. This is one of the struggles the USC Kazan Taiko group has to face. We are always in need of a space that will allow us to play loudly on our drums. At the beginning of my freshman year, I decided to join the Taiko club on campus (Kazan Taiko). I had never done Taiko before, let alone a musical instrument, so this was to be a completely different type of thing than what I was accustomed.

Photo by Choo Yut Shing on Flickr

Taiko is Japanese drumming. We play on chu-daiko (a type of drum) with our bachi (drum sticks) that we make ourselves on retreat! Usually the main song is played on these drums and then a base beat is kept on the shime-daiko, a smaller drum like a snare drum. Taiko is a very loud instrument and it’s best when you play with lots of energy! We also have special uniforms we wear during performances. In addition to the club T-shirt that has the name of your generation (the year you joined – I’m part of the Wood Rams), you also get tabi (special socks/shoes) and special pants. Then during the performances you get to wear happi (a traditional Japanese coat usually worn at festivals) and hachimaki (a type of headband worn for many occasions).

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