One of California’s largest venues, Gibson Amphitheatre lives up to its reputation as a go-to entertainment destination by welcoming sought-after acts into its sprawling confines. More than 6,000 seats on two levels angle toward the stage to grant easy, unobstructed views. A state-of-the-art sound system allows visitors to rock out to dynamic tunes, or hear even the softest whispers between an encouraging roadie and a nervous guitar making its debut performance.
Beloved boy bands New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys rev the engines of adoration among droves of fans with their poptastic summer tour. New Kids on the Block has been plucking heartstrings and handcrafting harmonies since 1986, combining a collection of international hits such as "Hangin' Tough" and "Step by Step" with five-part choreography and fashionable duds. Following in their footsteps, the Backstreet Boys began blowing up charts in the '90s, producing a songbook replete with favorites such as "I Want It That Way," "All I Have to Give," and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." The NKOTBSB Tour brings both acts together for a songful extravaganza, forming the more perfect union prophesied nearly 50 years ago by the Constitution. The May 25 concert also includes the vocal virtuosity of special guest and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, adding to an ear-pleasing stew of dulcet melodies sure to soothe the most savage beast or most irascible mail carrier.
Whether competing, hosting, or judging meals on Food Network, chef Aar?n S?nchez is a much loved culinary personality for in part for his enthusiasm, his love of guitars and motorcycles, and of course, his unmatched Latin fusion cuisine. At Crossroads Restaurant at House of Blues, he's designed his signature menu from the ground up, filling it with, in his words, "American classics through my eyes. Reimagined. Reinvented."
Here, the parade of unique eats starts right at the top of the menu with a cornbread appetizer studded with jalapenos and blanketed in maple butter. His citrus-marinated pork chop is rubbed with adobo seasoning and served atop a black-eyed pea and butternut squash picadillo, and shrimp po-boys evoke the Big Easy. Since the dining room is right next to the House of Blues main stage, even concertgoers have enough time to finish up with a bourbon bread pudding or a slice of key lime pie.
For an organization going on 100 years old, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is distinctly unstodgy. The orchestra performs concerts that tunefully blend classical works with new pieces, and continually seeks new ways to engage audiences. Many evenings, for instance, are preceded by an Upbeat Live talk, covering the program's historical and cultural context and opening the floor for Q&As with guest artists. A thriving youth orchestra program, YOLA, shares the joys of classical music with a fresher-faced generation. And the Green Umbrella program invites guests to hear world-premiere compositions. That novel approach to listener engagement seems to have caught on—every year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic shares music with more than two million ears, or three million if you count that secret ear everyone has but no one talks about.
The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express smuggles arena legends Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Ted Nugent into the great outdoors of the Greek Theatre with an inestimable cargo of sing-along classics. Styx has sparked the third rail since 1972 with prog-rock sensationalism, bolstering lighter-fluid epics such as "Come Sail Away" and "Babe" with complex riffs from crystalline synthesizers intertwined with power-chord crescendos and noodling from guitar giant Tommy Shaw. With founding frontman and falsetto specialist Kevin Cronin at the helm, fellow Prairie State juggernaut REO Speedwagon fills the stage with passionate chartbusters that made waterbed salesmen rich, from romantic ballads such as “Keep On Loving You" to the spurned-lover kiss-off "Take It on the Run." Kicking off the show, "Motor City Madman" and expert game hunter Ted Nugent revs his buzzsaw guitar through classics such as "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold," all while protecting the audience from wild boars.