I’ll Take My Music Al Fresco: A Guide to Outdoor Concert Options for Summer 2014


We’ve got your Summer Music options covered. Although the point is to get outside and enjoy the sweet night air, in preparing this post we recognized how many tremendous choices there are for discovering new music. With KCRW DJs spinning around town and clever curation at the Museum venues, everyone in the family can discover something new. Have fun exploring: we promise dancing, happy performers, excellent food, and a totally relaxing summer experience. Al fresco!

The Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl

Angelenos have always loved listening to music at the Hollywood Bowl – whether in a swanky box with placemats, silverware, and wine, or perched further up with breathtaking views of the hillside’s sweep. Many a native can claim to have heard the Beatles play the Bowl in 1965, but even recent transplants know a good gig when they hear of it, and most try to make it to the Bowl at least once each summer.


This summer’s Bowl line-up has great weekend concerts for families: DreamWorks Animation in Concert: Celebrating 20 Years on July 18-19, Hair from Aug 1-3, The Beatles 50th at the Bowl on Aug 22-24, John Williams: Maestro of the Movies on Aug 29-30, a Fireworks Finale: The Simpsons Take the Bowl on Sept 12-14.  

Besides the excellent weekday classical concerts (choose Dudamel!), consider these unique evenings: The Big Picture: Hitchcock! on August 31,  Elvis Costello and Ben Folds on September 5-6, The Planets – An HD Odyssey on September 9.

KCRW’s Summer Nights 2014

KCRW Presents : Chinatown Summer Nights - Photographs by Paul R.

KCRW is to thank for four separate concert series, bringing live bands and their excellent signature DJs to communities all over town. The concerts are all FREE, and open to everyone in the family. (Text “Summer” to 69866 for a schedule and updates).

Here’s the line-up for the July’s lively Thursday night concert series at the Hammer, part of the museum’s Made in LA biennial.

There are concerts in Chinatown every other week through August 9.

The Twilight Concerts at the Santa Monica Pier are especially fun for the range of music and delicious food trucks, and go on each Thursday night through September 11.

Just as diverse, are Grand Performances at the California Plaza, that take place on the weekends and include dance and spoken word, as well as music. The schedule runs through September 13.

Finally, if you are a country music fan, you’re in luck with a special concert series taking place this summer in conjunction with the Annenberg Space for Photography’s Country: Portraits of an American Sound (reviewed here by TFS). Three country artists – Gregg Allman, Shelby Lynne and Winona and the Big Noise — appear this summer. RSVPs required – sign up soon! The Annenberg just added a new concert, Photosynthesis on August 9, with photographers and food trucks and live music.

Just for Kids!


Get kids into the idea of outdoor concerts as early as possible for maximum enjoyment benefits. Start with the Family Amphitheater Performance at the Skirball Cultural Center, which goes up two times a day (Noon and 2:00 PM) on both Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day. Each program is specifically designed for kids, with as much dance and movement as music; the variety offered in this program is really impressive.

The Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park has programming four nights a week at 8:00 PM and showcases every type of music while still remaining clean and appropriate for a family audience. The Levitt Pavilion also has a stage in Pasadena; click here for that schedule. All concerts are free!

Museum Music for Adults

Saturdays Off the 405

Jazz at LACMA is an LA standard, and now  the Friday evening event is made modern by local performers and includes a schedule that runs from April until late September.

The Getty’s summer series, Saturdays Off the 405, is an extraordinary selection of emerging artists in a sporadic, but intellectually stimulating schedule that goes on through September 13.

And finally, the Skirball has a Thursday evening concert series for adults, dubbed Sunset Concerts, that showcases world music and American roots musical acts.