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Hacking the Hollywood Bowl 2009, LAist-style

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Neko Case, among the wild critters at the Greek Theatre. Photo by Andy Sternberg
Neko Case at the Greek Theatre on Friday and the 31st Annual Playboy Jazz Festival Saturday and Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl reminded us of how much we appreciate the summer outdoor concert season.

Deep in the forest of Griffith Park, the Greek was the perfect setting for Neko Case's soaring vocals and animal-centric audiovisuals. Standouts from the set were "This Tornado Loves You" from her latest album, Middle Cyclone, and "Wish I Was the Moon."

For jazz purists, the highlight of Saturday's Playboy Jazz Fest program was Jimmy Cobb and the So What Band's performing Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" in honor of the record's 50th anniversary. (Cobb was one of Miles Davis' studio musicians on the all-time best-selling jazz album). A wide range of musical styles were represented, including perennial LAist fave, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

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After the jump, LAist staff hacks for enjoying the Hollywood Bowl and summer's other outdoor concert venues, just in time for the Bowl season opener June 19. What are yours?

TICKETS

Even the cheap seats in the back row are a great time, especially in dead center. You can also buy tickets in person at the Bowl box office during the day - the parking attendant will let you park close for the box office. Goldstar has discount tickets for some Bowl events, but if you do get them, Goldstar has a dedicated Will Call pickup window with no wait. Our Goldstar seats were in Section Q1.

Heath Biter: A lot of the Bowl events have really really really cheap seats way in the back. Yeah, the seats suck, but for a few bucks a ticket, you can afford to go with a large group of people. (The prices have gone up slightly, but when they were only a buck a ticket, a buddy of mine would buy like thirty and send out a mass email inviting everyone he knows. It was always a good time, and we were exposed to a lot of music we might not have checked out otherwise)
Entertainment Editor, Elise Thompson: Do anything you can to get into the boxes if you actually want to listen to music. The further back you sit, the more the audience behaves like wild monkeys (I'm not looking at you, Heath).

GETTING THERE

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Caleb Bacon: Take Metro Red Line. Walk up Highland to the Bowl.
Arts and Events Editor, Christine Ziemba: I love the park and ride lot on Ventura Blvd #668. While parking can be stacked when really really busy, it's still better than sitting on Highland not moving. Plus the shuttle ride is free when you show your Metro Red Line ticket.
Sports Editor, Jimmy Bramlett: I use the park and ride lot at the LA Zoo and take the bus to the Bowl. Only $3. Back in the day my mom and I would park at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater and walk over to the Bowl.
Emily Lerman: The park-n-ride from the Federal Building on the Westside is great and recommended too...even with a bad accident in traffic I still made it to a Saturday night show on time.
News Editor, Andy Sternberg: My usual tip of parking at the Ford Theatre was dashed this weekend when they wouldn't allow us to park there "because they had their own show going on." In the past that was never a problem and would be easy in & out for $5 - $10 just over the 101 from the Bowl. Perhaps this won't be so easy this year?
Co-Editor, Lindsay William-Ross: Agreed on Red Line, and DEFINITELY agreed on Shuttle Lines. I take the one from Ventura/Vineland, easy as pie.
Caroline on Crack: I usually like finding parking on the street and hoofing it. Don't mind the exercise. :)
Bobzilla: Another vote for using Park & ride - I use the Ventura Blvd lot.
Heath Biter: Let me be the 20th person to say that the red line to H/H is the way to go. We frequently park by Universal and take the subway in. We've also hopped on the park and ride shuttle back to Ventura/Lankershim for free. (no one checks if you're supposed to be there on the return ride)
Elise Thompson: Wear comfortable shoes - you have to walk uphill.
Zach Behrens: If you arrive via bicycle, there are no official racks, but you are allowed to park and secure your bike on the fences near the entrance. Don't worry, you'll see all the other bicycles there as long as you aren't the first to arrive.

FOOD & DRINK

The nearby Gelson's supermarket on Franklin is great for picnic provisions. Suggestions aside from the usual wine, pate, cheese, crackers, baguettes and strawberries: dinner rolls and coldcut mini-sliders, Viktor Bene's amazing cookies and pastries, olives from the olive bar. You can bring alcoholic beverages to LA Phil events, but you may NOT bring your own alcohol into lease events.

Sam Kim: Don't get the food from Patina catering. It's expensive/overpriced! For food options maybe something from Joans or another cafe...the concert times are usually not conducive to eating a nice sit down dinner before/after.
Emily Lerman: M Cafe on Melrose and La Brea is always solid. Not to mention Fresh and Easy and Famima on Hollywood Blvd.
Lindsay William-Ross: Trader Joe's!!! And now, with it right at H&H, Fresh & Easy is a great option, too (they have wine at that location). There are awesome picnic grounds across the street on Highland where the little tiny Hollywood Museum (Lasky?) is. Nice alternative to trying to find a spot on the HB grounds.
Caroline on Crack: For food I like the Alcove, Popeye's or Whole Foods. If you get there really early and you have a huge group of friends, you can have a picnic beforehand at the park on Highland, south of the Bowl
Bobzilla: Even if they don't allow you to bring alcohol inside for a big rock show, you can drink it outside before the show - pack a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine, and you can at least enter the building partly sloshed at bargain prices.
Heath Biter: If it's a bowl event, salami, cheese & wine is the way to go. Though I would also recommend Musso & Franks for a steak sandwich and martini at least once in your life. Skoobys for hot dogs ain't a bad idea either.
Elise Thompson: Alcove in Los Feliz has good cheeses and cool little containers of snacks for fancy picnics.

WHAT TO BRING

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It's nice to bring a blanket for after the sun goes down. The little square blankets they give away at Dodger Blanket Night are the perfect size.

Lindsay William-Ross:
Bring an extra bag for your trash and for your bottles--don't be the jerk who litters or who lets their bottles roll down the aisles during the shows. If you're hosting out of towners, don't let them get away with thinking "It's LA, it's July, it's HOT." By nightfall, it's cold. Bring a sweater, for crying out loud.

MISCELLANEOUS

Hike the stairs, check out rehearsals, and otherwise use it as an LA County Regional Park in off-hours, as Editor Zach Behrens reminds us.

Elise Thompson: Don't miss the guy with the singing giraffe puppet who serenades you on the way out.

Photo of Neko Case at the Greek Theatre by Andy Sternberg