Keep this to yourselves — I really don’t want the Bowl Patrol banging on my door:
Top seats for an L.A. Phil concert at the Hollywood Bowl run as much as 300 dollars, but you can actually get decent ones for as little as a buck.
First, you have to have an abiding love for classical music, which I do. To that you add open-air seating on a warm August night, and what’s not to like?
Kris and I get down to the Bowl once or twice a summer and it is always special. Our preference is to kick back in the seats well toward the back, which are already inexpensive, and move through one or two bottles of wine, along with whatever we can pick up at Togo’s. Parking is a non-issue since we do the park-and-ride thing for just eight bucks each, round-trip from Orange County to the Bowl.
That’s pretty much what we did last night, while going a little light on the wine (a modest vintage from Ralphs — it helps when you don’t insist on the award-winning labels). At the keyboard was Emanuel Ax, who was just fine.
And about the cheap seats thing? Not that we would ever seek advantage, but it seems that some ladies we talked to on the bus and saw later at the concert had bought tickets (we heard their transaction going on beside us at the ticket window) for one dollar apiece to get seats in the very last row of the 15,000-seat venue. (Seriously, back there you can share your condiments with a family of raccoons.)
And where did they settle in? A row ahead of us where the going price is a cool 20 dollars per. Bringing my sense of humor with me, I asked them about the upgrade. They simply smiled and said to enjoy the show. I persisted. Well, yes, they said, they had moved to some “empty seats,” adding that part of the technique was to avoid the youthful ushers. You do that, they explained, by walking briskly to the better seats, which last night numbered in the hundreds, pause knowingly in front of the seats you want, gesture at said seats in a manner that implies discovery and then settle in. The idea, they added, was to be convincing. Hence, times three (ladies), that meant 60 dollars worth of seats for a measly three bucks — or maybe six bottles of the adequate stuff.
The advantage, of course, was massive availability, helped by a light turnout. I would guess the place was less than two-thirds full, with subscribers and the like down toward the front, which I’ve always thought was nutty, in that the acoustics at the Bowl genuinely stink. The music became obviously louder when the star — Mr. Ax — came to play, but was still a far cry from the Phil’s inside concert hall downtown. But again, for us it’s the ambience that really matters, aided by huge monitors off to the side, such was the distance to the stage.
So again, if you want to get into the Bowl where — with one hell of an arm — you could hit that stage with a rock for the low, low price of one thin dollar, it can be done. Just go on a night when the turnout will be limited, put your precious funds into the goodies, buy seats way in the back and then get bold and creative. On those occasions, I tend to believe, management doesn’t really give a shit.
And us? We had paid eight bucks per…and coyly grabbed seats behind those ladies from the bus.