DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist @ Hollywood Bowl, 6/24/2007

5.57pm. June 24, 2007. Pasadena. I wake from a near-comatose slumber, pillow moist with drool, mind hazy from last night’s Cointreau-and-pork-ribs binge. Standard operating procedure for a Sunday evening. But what’s that nagging concern in the back of my mind? Have I forgotten something? Then the realization: Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow are on the decks tonight at the Hollywood Bowl and DF has a special invite. I spring into action.


6.18pm. I flee the ‘Dena at breakneck speed, careening down Lake and hanging a hard left onto the 210 on two wheels, General-Lee-style. I zip along the foothills of the mighty San Gabriels, weaving through sparse traffic. Did I mention that I’m currently under court supervision for a moving violation received in rural Illinois during a recent cross-country trek? Additional citations would mean extradition to Montgomery County and weeks of hard labor. Well, if the authorities have a problem with it, they’ll just have to contact my Polish cousin, Dr. Whatevski. The devil may care, but I don’t.

6.25pm. Nothing in creation is more exhilarating than blasting through the glorious hamlets of the San Fernando Valley on the 134. Glendale. Burbank. Toluca Lake. Wait. W, as the kids say, TF? I’ve overshot my mark. Tires screech loud enough to wake all the slumbering corpses in Forest Lawn as I spin into a dramatic U-turn and head eastward.

Arrival at the LA Zoo parking lot. I park in section “C” for “Camel Toe.” I briefly consider visiting the ape house. Possible pros: see apes. Likely cons: apes fling feces at me. Nix on that. On the way to the Bowl-bound bus, a morbidly obese gentleman asks me for change for $100. “No, but how’d you like a boot to the crotch, fatty? Out of my way. I’ve got a shuttle to catch.”

6.38pm. My efforts to hurry are amply rewarded as I sit on the shuttle for a good fifteen minutes while it overfills with concert-goers. It’s a motley mix of social types. Category A: standard Bowl-attendees, hautes bourgeoises toting cozy blankets and coolers full of classy booze. Category B-boy: hipsters in elaborately logo’d T-shirts and hoodies, clearly there only for the Shadow/Chemist set. Category C: a smattering of aficionados anxious to arrive on time for the two opening “world music” acts, readily identifiable by their affection for whimsically patterned dresses (women) and woven hats (men).

7.03pm. The shuttle finally chugs into the station and we disembark. To my surprise, the woman who checks my bag at the ticket gate chides me for not trying to sneak booze into the venue. It causes me to reflect on a friend’s response when I noted that everyone at concerts always seems to be having a much better time than me. “No shit, DF,” she replied, “it’s because they’re all on drugs, or at least drunk.” So that’s the secret. And indeed, around me all manner of high-volume imbibing takes place: yuppies quaff wine, hipsters quaff low-end beers, world music fans quaff high-end beers. Ruing my lack of foresight, I make my way to the refreshment stand to get into the spirits. Twenty-ounce domestic beer: $7.50. Check and mate, Hollywood Bowl.

7.49pm. The first opening act ends and I make my way to my seat just as, to my everlasting regret, Brazilian artist Carlinhos Brown begins his set. In what must be an unintentional nod to the Village People, Brown sports an Indian headdress and his backup band wears sailor hats. His strenuous efforts at encouraging crowd participation meet with an awkward silence. Effortfully tuning out the performance, I consider the pros and cons of world music. Pro: copious second-hand ganja smoke creates a redolent, island atmosphere. Con: body funk generated by fans’ ambivalence toward bathing more than cancels this out. Pro: lissome young women dance seductively throughout the act. Con: so does the scantily clad Brazilian grandma directly in front of me.

7.58pm. Bingo wings and marimbas are a lethal combo. I need out.

8.13pm. I escape the performance and kill time by browsing the gourmet chow available in the on-site food jobber. I select a tasty-looking spicy tuna hand roll, then balk when I see the price tag: $13.50. I ask a saleslady if this is a typo. She says yes, it should read “$135.00.” Ha. Bitch zinged me good, but damned if I’m going to let them engage in extortion. I sate myself with two seafoam-gray hot dogs instead, which, at $4 per, seem quite the bargain, e. coli risk notwithstanding.

8.50pm. World music ends. Saints be praised.

9.08pm. Shadow and Chemist perform and it’s the best thing in the world. Or at least it would have been had the spectacularly inebriated couple in front of me not engaged in high-decibel conversation throughout the second half of the set.

10.25pm. I board the Zoo bus and immediately fall into a near-comatose slumber.

6.43am. June 25, 2007. Griffith Park. Dreams of summiting Everest in the nude terminate when I awake, freezing and violently shivering, in the back of the shuttle. The sounds of awakening jungle fauna surround me. I disembark and saunter over to the Zoo Café, famished and ready to tuck into one of their matchless condor-egg omelettes.

Photo by Carlie Armstrong