The Sound of (Outdoor) Music

Summer Music Experiences Minus Ceilings and Crowds

Music: an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound and silence.

LA music scene: spending half your rent on a resale ticket that gets you a nosebleed seat at the Staples Center, where an intoxicated man distracts you from that one favorite song you’ve been waiting years to hear.


Being a true music fan in LA can be frustrating. What makes music and the experience so enjoyable can sometimes be trumped by all of the other factors involved in making it happen. Ticket fees, crowds, parking. All of these can be a buzzkill to what otherwise could be a grounding, mindful, and meditative experience.

There are many opportunities throughout Los Angeles that offer live music. Indoor, outdoor, rooftops. But the key is to find that balance of a great show without the chaos and headache that sometimes accompany events in this city.

If a quiet, relaxing environment with a cool breeze is what you’re looking for, free of congestion and Coachella-like crowds, we’ve found a few possibilities you may enjoy. From downtown to Pasadena to museums- these will be music to your ears. Literally.

There may be no place in LA you can go that is more peaceful than a garden under the setting sun with a glass (or two!) of wine- all set to the soundtrack of live music. However, if wine isn’t your thing, try a nature-inspired cocktail- and then take in the music, join the hands-on garden activities, or embark on a botanical tour at the Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights In The Garden.

Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights In The Park

Feel free to bring your own picnic setup, or check out the impressive selection of food trucks. Great for a date or for the entire family, as they have coloring activities that kids would love, and their live animal shows will impress guests of any age. Or you can forgo any of the activities and simply take in the sights and the sounds on a blanket under the stars.

Hammer Museum’s JazzPOP

The Hammer Museum’s JazzPOP in Westwood takes both the museum and the music and mixes in poetry as well. Saxophonist and composer Sheldon Brown and his ensemble perform compositions built from the rhythms and speech melodies of Beat and Surrealist poets reading from their work. This event is free, but make sure to bring a few dollars for parking.

Set to the backdrop of the metropolis, Downtown Los Angeles has multiple musical offerings for you this summer. Grand Performances offers world class music and the fusion of cultures in a sprawling courtyard in the center of downtown. This free event is designed to bring artists and audiences together by featuring not only talent from around the world, but also from our very own backyard. The events vary from big and bold to intimate and thought-provoking, but all are intended to connect artists to the audience, and the audience to each other.

Grand Performances / FIGat7th

A few blocks away in the financial district, the FIGat7th Downtown Festival offers leading pop, rock, jazz, and alternative acts every Friday night in one of the cities’ favorite shopping plazas. If you’re tired of being on your feet, there are grassy areas where you can sit, relax, and enjoy the music- and a beer if you desire. You’ll have to pay for the beer, but entrance into the event won’t cost you anything.

Perhaps the most interesting fusion of artists can be found at this summer’s Muse/ique festivals, which pair masterful musicians and unexpected mashups with inspired venues to create a magical evening. Their mission is to inspire the creative spirit, engage the imagination, and foster new music lovers.

Inspired by the music of George Gershwin, Summer of Sound reimagines Gershwin’s beautifully complex contribution to the American Opera, “Porgy and Bess.” The worlds of theater and music are seamlessly weaved together in ways audiences have never seen nor heard before.

American/Rhapsody fuses together an array of genres, from jazz to ballet to classical music that Gershwin himself was influenced by, as well as those he influenced, like pianist HyeJin Kim with her performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.” Dancers from BODYTRAFFIC dance to orchestrated versions of jazz and classical favorites, like Gershwin’s “Three Preludes”, among others.

Located in Pasadena, the Muse/ique events open at 5:30, giving you several hours to mingle with friends, meet some other art enthusiasts, or simply dine. The entertainment begins at 7:30 and will provide you a solid ninety minute adventure in sound.

So the next time your tickets sell out in .5 seconds or you aren’t able to plan six months in advance for a concert, keep in mind that there are always other alternatives that may end up being even more rewarding than what you had initially been looking for.

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