Reviewed by Claudio Vernight
October 30 certainly was no Devil's Night for LA's Greek Theater. The second of two shows by the indie band, Interpol, signaled the end of the season for the venerable venue which began back in the Spring. With a city contract that allows them to produce about eighty shows between April and November, ASM Global has outdone themselves this year.
If you haven't experienced an amphitheater show, you are missing out. To sit in the open air, nestled in the Griffith Park canyon at the very end of Vermont Avenue, you can enjoy the show at several new levels. When we come to a concert, we expect two specific outcomes: we want to see them, and we want to hear them. The Greek has worked hard to deliver optimum results for both.
First, every seat is a good one because there are just under eighty rows from the orchestra pit to the last row. And add to that hi-res plasma screens on either side of the stage, it amounts to one thing. Every seat is a good one.
But where the Greek excels, and by Greek we do mean ASM Global, is in music production. I can't speak for the performers on stage, but the "front of house" mix has been superior all summer long. From raucous rockers like Los Lonely Boys to the sweet harmonies and delicate guitar work of EmmyLou Harris, their mix never disappoints. And bands with multi-instrumentalists like the horn-heavy Chicago, never get lost in the mix.
The venue, also, is careful not to upset its neighbors. To this end, they keep a special computer capturing the mix as it is fed through a decibel meter. They have a real-time record of the entire night in case there is any discrepancy about volume. They literally have a person watching the peaks all night. And while the Griffith Park hills can bounce sound around, the output mix is well within the city limit at all times.
And it's such a relaxing experience getting to the Greek. Traffic may back up at peak moments or after a fender bender, but compared to the Hollywood Bowl or even the Crypto, it's a dream to turn up Vermont and be in your seats within thirty minutes.
And some of that saved time should be spent sampling their exceptional food and beverages. Try the Salmon burger with the tater tots. 2DIE4. And if high end tequila is your thing, Patron has built a multi-level deck off to the north side of the stage where you can be relieved of the hustle and bustle of pre-concert chatter and have a shot of their Platinum before showtime.
But it is all about the music and Interpol drew a healthy crowd on the last night (selling out the night before.) The NYC band has been doing it since 1997, coming up with other Indie favorites such as the Strokes and The National. Opening for U2 for several tours raised their profile immensely, and this reviewer would argue, heavily influenced their sound. Since the tours they have acquired a thicker guitar sheen, compliments of working with the Edge night after night. They didn't outright copy him. They have just been influenced. And they didn't disappoint their true believers who screamed at the opening bars of "C'mere," "Evil," "PDA" and "Slow Hands."
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The Greek is booking next season already and I suggest checking their Events Page periodically for surprise artist signings. Everyone wants to play the Greek so we can expect more than the usual bunch of stars next year.
And don't miss the Greek's Community Holiday Celebration on November 18 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Besides arts and crafts with cookie decorating for the kids, the Sugar Plums singing doo wop Holiday songs and a certain Jolly Old Fellow arriving with goodie bags, they will make fifteen tons of snow for sleigh riding back down Vermont. This all happens in front of the Greek in their plaza.
To top all this, the Greek won Best Amphitheater of the Year Award from the prestigious International Entertainment Buyers Association in Nashville last week. General Manager Kristen Sten was on hand to accept the prized crystal statue.