I just caught a great double show. Jane’s Addiction is on tour for their new album and I decided to see them off the beaten path and go to the Santa Barbara Bowl. What’s more, The Airborne Toxic Event opened for them.
Just on the edge of walkable from Santa Barbara’s State Street, up into the hills, is the pleasant outdoor bowl. The venue is much smaller than similar sites (like the Hollywood Bowl) but the intimacy is appreciated. Southern California lends a hand in the ambiance- the coastal air and cool breeze kept the temperature perfect. There are more seats compared to most normal concerts but there is still a party at the bottom if you so choose. Up top, the wooden bleacher-style seats are spacious.
Most outdoor venues have an acoustical challenge to deal with and may suffer some sound quality loss as a trade-off. The Santa Barbara Bowl does a valiant job and I thought both bands sounded great. The stage is big and offers a lot of space for lights, props, and performers. It is important to keep in mind that, while this is small for a bowl, outdoor venues tend to be much bigger than traditional theaters so you do tend to get more of a bird’s eye view of things.
Is there anything better than drinking wine from plastic cups at outdoor bowl concerts? Santa Barbara, known for great wines, delivered. Unlike Hollywood Bowl, you can’t bring in your own bottles and I’m not even sure if you can bring in your own food. The concession stands have a pretty broad selection of snacks and entrees, though.