Saturday, August 14, 2010

#130: Grand Performances

Photo from fineartsla

Friday night we caught an awesome show downtown at California Plaza put on by Grand Performances. Grand Performances hosts free shows throughout the summer at the plaza, and I've always been meaning to go. Brad got out of work early, so it was the perfect day to beat the traffic and head to downtown.

Friday's show featured Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba, an electrifying group from Mali. Dengue Fever, a surf/psychedelic rock band that is fronted by a Cambodian pop singer, also performed. Both groups were amazing.

The shows are always free, and parking is $7.50 under the Plaza. There is a Famima, Panda Express, an Italian restaurant and Starry Kitchen if you get hungry. We had some steamed pork filled buns from Famima (meh) and a bulgogi "burger" from Starry Kitchen (yummy!). You can get the food to-go, and eat it while watching or waiting for the show.

Before the show

We got there at 6:30 for the 8:00 show, and there were already people sitting down and reserving seats, so the first rows were all taken. By 7:00, the seats were about 1/3 filled, and by 7:30, the place was about 2/3 filled. Even if you come at 8 or later though, you can still find a place to stand and watch the show. If you like to dance, there's a little area by the bleachers where people were standing and dancing. I would not recommend sitting on the lower level of the bleachers for this reason--your view would be blocked!

the bleacher area on the right

The plaza is pretty big, and they set up lots of chairs all over the place. They allow alcohol, but not dogs. It got pretty cold the night we went, and there were people with blankets and even a woman with gloves.

Here are some excerpts from the Grand Performances website about the two groups last night:

Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba have deep roots in the griot tradition. The ngoni – considered to be the banjo’s ancestor – is at the center of the band’s energetic live performances. When paired with the bass ngoni, callebasse, percussion and vocalist Amy Sacko’s transcendent voice, the group’s pulsing, hypnotic sound compels audiences to dance.

60’s-era Cambodian pop meets psychedelic rock when Dengue Fever takes the stage. Sung in English and Cambodian, the band’s music has found homes in film and television shows such as Must Love Dogs and Weeds.

Coming up later this month: Korean B-Boy champs Last For One, a puppet show by Paul Zaloom, and Turtle Island Quartet's homage to Jimi Hendrix. Click here to see August's calendar.

Dengue Fever's Seeing Hands

Dengue Fever's One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula

Bassekou Kouyote

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  1. I love the Grand performances! especially the Lunchtime. I only found out about it this past summer, when I was commuting from UCLA for summer school and had to transfer bus in downtown. Figured I might kill some time at the plaza and lo and behold there was a performance going on. It was quite an experience :) I wish I found your blog years ago, the I would have known about this earlier.


  2. Ah what good timing you had! Can't wait for the 2013 concert series!