Your Essential Guide to the Hollywood Bowl’s Summer Lineup

There are going to be a lot of talented musicians gracing the Bowl’s bandstand over the next couple of months, but unless you plan on shirking all other responsibilities (I mean, how often do you <em>actually</em> need to shower?), you’ll have to make some tough choices. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. Here are the acts you absolutely should not miss this summer.

The Playboy Jazz Festival

 Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, 3 p.m.

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

Prepare to have your mind expanded. Janelle Monáe is one of the many headliners you’ll see at this 38th annual music extravaganza. Saturday’s show includes the amazing singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, crooner and comedian Seth MacFarlane, and child prodigy Joey Alexander. On Sunday afternoon, catch the legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, and innovative trumpeter Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah.

Opening Night at the Bowl with Steely Dan

Saturday, June 18, 8 p.m.

Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images

What better way is there to kick off the summer than with Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s complex harmonies and cynical lyrics? How about Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s complex harmonies, cynical lyrics, AND ALSO FIREWORKS.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert

Wednesday, July 6, 8 p.m.

Photograph courtesy
Photograph courtesy

Because your kids will be psyched—even though it’s not even close to being John Williams’s best score. The film will be screened in high-definition as the LA Phil performs. Conducted by Justin Freer.

West Side Story

Tuesday, July 19, 8 p.m.

Photograph courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment/MGM Studios
Photograph courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment/MGM Studios

Experience one of the best soundtracks ever, performed by the LA Phil and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The performance is conducted by the exuberant Gustavo Dudamel, meaning the results are pretty much guaranteed to be amazing. Don’t believe us? Watch Dudamel lead the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in West Side Story’s “Mambo!” When was the last time you saw so much electricity onstage?

Gladys Knight and Tower of Power

Wednesday, August 3, 8 p.m.

Photo by Tim Alban/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Alban/Getty Images

Anyone known as the “Empress of Soul” is worth seeing in concert. Here’s proof of her effortless vocal prowess:


Sufjan Stevens

Sunday, August 7, 7 p.m.

Photograph courtesy Scott Wintrow/Getty Images
Photograph courtesy Scott Wintrow/Getty Images

Perfect for those times when you just need a sincere person with a guitar. (Including, but not limited to: break-ups, mid-life crises, perfect summer evenings spent drinking overpriced wine in the Hollywood Hills.)

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma

Sunday, August 21, 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy

This international ensemble’s music is so life-changing that a documentary was just made about them—and it opens in L.A. tomorrow (June 10).

Mega Nova featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Cindy Blackman Santana, Marcus Miller, and Carlos Santana

Wednesday, August 24, 8 p.m.

Photo credit
Photo courtesy Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Supergroup Mega Nova includes some of today’s most legendary rock and jazz musicians. It would be worth braving the Bowl’s miserable parking to see even one of these artists, so don’t blow your chance to see them all together. Plus! Modern soul all-star Booker T. will open.

Brainfeeder at the Hollywood Bowl

Saturday, September 17, 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Sonos
Photo courtesy Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Sonos

How do you emotionally prepare for this much groove? Unclear, but don’t let that stop you from seeing Flying Lotus, Funkadelic featuring George Clinton and Parliament, and bassist Thundercat. Check him out on KCRW: