Los Angeles Outdoor Summer Concerts
What’s going on in LA this summer? Spend your evenings under the stars with these Los Angles summer concerts. From free concerts, to top acts in iconic venues, check out what shows not to miss this year.
By Christina Xenos
Consistently named the best major outdoor concert venue by Pollstar, the 18,000-seat amphitheater is the summer home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which plays world-class classical tunes on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer season from July 7 to Sept 10. If you’re looking for ideas for fun in LA, you should also be sure to check out World Music Sundays, curated by KCRW and offering world/pop/indie tunes from bands like Ziggy Marley, Erykah Badu and Grace Jones. Wednesdays feature jazz tunes from the likes of John Fogerty, Seu Jorge and Pink Martini. Special concerts include Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, Back to the Future In Concert, this year’s July 4th celebration with Smokey Robinson and a late summer performance by ABBA.
Catch a concert from one of your favorite bands this summer with the hills and trees of Griffith Park as your backdrop. This intimate outdoor venue seats just under 6,000 people and was originally dedicated to the city in the fall of 1929. This summer’s lineup features performances from Tour de Compadres, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Peter Frampton, Ben Folds and more.
Santa Monica Pier
Spend Thursday evenings ocean-side at one of the top LA tourist spots, the iconic Santa Monica Pier, for the 31st annual Twilight Concert Series sponsored by KCRW. The weekly celebration kicks off just before sunset on July 9. The series features contemporary and classic tunes from artists such as Morris Day & the Time, J.D. McPherson and Ariel Pink, among others.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Your list of cool things to do in LA this summer simply must include this notorious Los Angeles landmark and resting place for some of Hollywood’s most famous actors, writers and directors. The place comes alive with outdoor concerts on their Fairbanks Lawn, so pack your picnic basket and head to the cemetery to see concerts by Tame Impala and Modest Mouse.
Wine & Jazz Summer Concert Series at Hollywood & Highland Center
Hear live music from jazz greats every Tuesday night in the Hollywood & Highland Center’s central courtyard from June 30-July 28. Highlights of the season are Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars (June 30), Kamasi Washington (July 14), Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band (July 28), among others. Also, enjoy two glasses of wine and an appetizer box from Wolfgang Puck Catering for $10. All proceeds will directly benefit Project Angel Food 7-9 pm. Free.
Levitt Pavilion Pasadena
Hear performances by everyone from Grammy-winning artists to rising stars outdoors at Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena every Weds.-Sun. through Sept. 20. The summer series of 50 free concerts includes Americana, Jazz, Blues, World, Latin and children’s music as well as dance shows. Highlights include performances by Griffin House, Black Violin and Barbara Morrison among others.
Sound in Focus
The free, all-ages concert series inspired by the “Emerging” exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography includes top acts like TV on the Radio (July 25), De La Soul (Aug. 1), Dwight Yoakam (Aug. 8) and Cold War Kids (Aug. 15). The concerts will take place in the park adjacent to the Annenberg Space for Photography. The Photography Space will stay open late on these evenings (until 11pm) so that the concertgoers may enjoy both the concerts and the exhibition.
Levitt Pavilion Downtown Los Angeles
Set among the sprawling grasses and fountains of McArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles, you can stop by for five weekly concerts every Thurs. – Sun. through Sept. 19. Highlights of the summer series include Salvador Santana, Poncho Sanchez, Venice and more.
This summer, enjoy Grand Park’s Sunday Sessions on July 26, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20 to hear the beats of local and international DJs and producers. And don’t miss Jose Hernandez’ Mariachi Nationals or the Colburn Adult Wind Symphony in late summer.
Skirball Cultural Center Concerts
Watch the sun set over the Los Angeles basin and check out free concerts every Thursday from July 23 – Aug. 27. The 19th annual free series features an eclectic mix of traditions and styles from Afro-Columbian funk and psychedelic Malian music to pan-Middle Eastern and America grooves. Highlights of the showcase include La Chiva Gantiva, Bassekou Kouaté and Ngoni Ba and Novalima among others.
Join in the fun Thursdays this summer starting July 9 for the Hammer Museum’s Summer of Soul events. Performances include Breakestra, KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole, The Suffers, Sam Sparro and more.
Indulge in your favorite musical genres and bands or discover your next audible obsession during Grand Performances’ free summer series at downtown’s Water Court. Shows not to miss this summer are performances by The Gaslamp Killer Experience, Wattstax Revisited, Run River North and more.
KCRW Summer Nights
The KCRW free concert series returns for its ninth year and begins June 6 in Old Pasadena. If you’ve been looking for family friendly things to do in LA, these concerts open to all ages and include dozens of performances throughout the summer. Artists such as De Lux, Dan Wilcox and Cayucas will be highlights of the summer, plus many more.
Roaring Nights at the Zoo
Get in touch with your wild side at the Roaring Nights music fest at the L.A. Zoo. Enjoy live music, a DJ dance party, food trucks, full-service bars, pop-up zookeeper talks, animal encounters and more, including a performance from indie rock tribute band, Black Crystal Wolf Kids to kick off the fest on June 26. The event continues on July 24 and Aug. 21.