Sarah and I are big fans of the Getty, so when I heard that they were having a free show in the “Saturdays Off the 405″ series with Les Savy Fav, we were in. If you’ve heard of Les Savy Fav, that should explain why I went right there. I haven’t really listened to them much since Sarah and I worked at Parnassus, but I like their music, and rumor has it that their live shows are pretty hilarious. Tim Harrington, the lead singer, is basically a crazy, kinda fat, middle-aged, bald guy who frequently runs around naked and is involved in lots of antics–he should be a hero to anyone over 30, anyone that enjoys the idiosyncrasies of beat era poets, Hunter S. Thompson, or Easy Rider era Dennis Hopper.
Sarah and I drove up to the Getty, encountering a lot of traffic in the process (quintessential LA), probably because 405 was missing a lane because they are tearing down the Sunset bridge over the freeway. This is amusing because when we moved here in 2006, they were working on a different section of 405…and they just finished. Literally, about 3 months ago. So of course, we couldn’t just let the freeway be in its new less clogged state. Nope, it had to be made worse. Eventually, we got there, and encountered the longest line we have ever seen at the Getty.
The deal with the Getty is, you have to pay for parking, but everything else is free. It’s a great deal, and features panoramic views of the city and a refreshing break from the urban jungle. Sometimes when we’re at the Getty, I feel like we’ve been transported to a Jetson’s cartoon–to the future. Sarah and I were expecting to pay 15$ for parking–the normal fee–but it was free. That probably explained the lines.
After riding the tram up and talking to a nice family, we went to eat the dinner we packed on the lawn, pretty much right at sunset. Sunset is a good time to be at the Getty. We could hear the DJ that was opening up for Les Savy Fav up above, and then we started to hear Les Savy Fav, so we made our way up to the courtyard to watch them.
I found it funny that the Getty was willing to have Les Savy Fav. They’re an “arty” band, they have a reputation for crazy shows, and they are relatively abrasive in a punk type of way. They’ve got fairly thrashy guitars, fairly fast songs, and sound abrasive if you don’t like stuff like that. (Frankly, I’m surprised Sarah wanted to come see them…) Needless to say, they don’t seem to fit with my general impression of the Getty’s atmosphere–a jazz quartet or some singer songwriter stuff seems to be more in line with what I would expect from such an erudite institution.
Once we got up top, we ran into Dustin and his girlfriend Angie, who was doing some work with my company at one point. We talked to them for a bit and hung out, watching the show. I was impressed with the quality of the sound. The band was playing in an open space between two marble walls; my first instinct would be to expect it to sound echoey and terrible. But it didn’t. It also wasn’t prohibitively loud (although certainly loud enough), which I appreciate at this point. (No sense in losing more hearing than necessary.)
I went and bought Sarah a beer, and by the time I got back, the antics had begun. Tim Harrington was climbing on the facade of the museum and painting himself with fake blood that he was drooling out of his mouth. After his facade climb, in which he wasn’t able to get all that high off the ground, he quipped to the crowd “Make sure you take a low-angle photograph and then I can photoshop myself in higher.” Pretty funny. I was surprised that the Getty wasn’t itching to take him down off his perch after that. Lord knows I have seen other singer types get dragged off of risers, etc. at shows. They were remarkably demure. For his next joke, Tim Harrington ran into the crowd until his microphone cable ran out, handed the microphone off to a random person, and then dived in one of the Getty’s fountains for a swim. Funny and unexpected. Again, the Getty was pretty demure. Meanwhile the band played on–tightly, I might add. They definitely know what they are doing.
For the piece de resistance, Tim Harrington ran out to one of the lights that was lighting the courtyard (see photo)–basically a huge paper lantern covering a portable light, and started swinging it in circles at the back end of the crowd. When he got bored, he handed it off to some audience members and then made his way back to the stage. Shortly thereafter, they were done. Sarah and I were both surprised that they didn’t get stopped or harassed by the Getty. I’m sure if we’d done the same stuff, we would have been ejected. We wandered around the Getty some at night, taking in the views, and then walked back down to the parking garage.
It was a fun night and a cool show that I’m glad I got to see. I doubt that Les Savy Fav will ever play the Getty again…although it could be that they really only have three of these shows a year and not because they were a little edgier than the Getty might have anticipated.