By Christian Hertzog
Marijuana has a well-deserved reputation for being a recreational substance enjoyed at live concerts of rock, rap, and–especially–reggae. Should anyone be surprised that some folks enjoy a righteous hit of cheeba before attending a classical music event?
Recently classical music has moved into bars and nightclubs, but firing up a blunt inside risks expulsion. Far better to hit that chronic in an outdoor venue. It's too late to get oh-so-high at Ojai, but the Hollywood Bowl season is upon us, beckoning SoCal tokers to have their minds blown both musically and chemically.
When you are zoning on kush, you want the musical equivalent thereof to fittingly accompany your buzz: pure, undiluted classical music by geniuses. Fortunately, the LA Philharmonic plays only the finest masterpieces at the Hollywood Bowl. Here, in order of preference, are The Top 5 Hollywood Bowl Classical Concerts to Enjoy While Stoned:
5. Kari Kriiku plays Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto, August 4
Contemporary classical music and marijuana complement each other superbly. A crazy modernist work fucks with your perceptions same as a hit of dank. Lindberg's music takes listeners for a wild ride, but never so far out that they lose their bearings. Lindberg wrote this concerto for clarinetist Kari Kriiku, who specializes in Lindberg's aggressive yet appealing music. Ziggy Marley performs at the Bowl five days before this show, so there will probably be cannabis molecules still lingering in the air.
Bonus: Copland's Clarinet Concerto is also on the program, possessing the most gorgeous slow movement of any clarinet concerto since Mozart's. A little 420 will help those fragmented clarinet notes and gently dissonant harmonies cohere into a beautiful sonic tapestry.
4. Philip Glass Ensemble, August 30
We first became aware of Glass's popularity with stoners as a teenager; our younger sister came home stoned one night and begged us to dig up my Music in 12 Parts LP, a surprise as she had never displayed any interest in classical music before. She played it over and over into the dawn, blissfully staring at the Op Art cover. Listening to Glass's repetitive music while under the influence of THC is the aural equivalent of finding an infinite universe in a grain of sand or a blade of grass. Glass and company will join the orchestra for a live soundtrack accompaniment to Reggio's film, Powaqqatsi. If the images of Third World exploitation harsh your mellow, just close your eyes and listen to those endlessly repeating chords. Are angels singing to you? Could be. Then again, open your eyes and you'll see the LA Children's Chorus onstage. Whoa. Far out, man.
3. Mozart's Requiem, September 13
Under mary jane's influence, music seems to slow down. Connections can be made between different motives and melodies which might escape your notice when sober. Or at least it seems that way. Mozart's Requiem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra has the most glorious counterpoint you'll find on the entire summer series. Musical lines intertwine, at times clashing, at others blending in heavenly harmony. You'll perceive every single thread and at the same time take in the whole shebang. The next day, when your high has worn off, you'll download the Requiem, and guess what? It will still sound just as unearthly and beautiful.
2. Dudamel conducts Borodin, Prokofiev, and Mussorgsky, July 14
Of all The Dude's Hollywood Bowl engagements, this is the one that will best tie the music and marijuana together like a dry, unstained Lebowskian rug. The lyrics from Borodin's opera, Prince Igor, (the musical source of the Polovtsian Dances) describe the wild joys of the Polovtsians as they celebrate the capture of slaves and the scattering of Russian bones across the battlefields–all sung to some of the most beloved melodies of 19th century Russian music. Pretty damned trippy, huh? The eerie tunes and textures of Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto are sure to receive a dizzying performance by superstar Lang Lang. And Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition? Musical portraits of gnomes. Catacombs. Houses on giant chicken legs. WHAT THE FUCK? Better take another hit off that blunt!
1. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducts Falla and Berlioz, August 16
Symphonie Fantastique for druggies is like being an alcoholic on New Year's Eve: It's Amateur Night! Berlioz's whack symphony is one of the most popular classical works by virtue of it having a lurid story–a composer overdoses on opium and has a series of hallucinations. Every college kid dozes through Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, but boy do they ever perk up when they hear this is music about a drug trip! Conductor Frühbeck de Burgos is pretty damned old. He may have been alive when Berlioz wrote this piece, so that should give him some special insight. He's also probably the greatest Falla conductor today. El Amor Brujo is about ghosts and witch spells. Smoke some more buddha, and you may see some ghosts yourself.
(If you still need convincing that sparking up a spliff to a symphony is a worthwhile pursuit, consider:
1. You will be surrounded by trees. Treeeeeees.
2. Who is the LA Phil's conductor? Gustavo Dudamel–The Dude! He's nicknamed after the main character in The Big Lebowski, an affable if bewildered toker; “The Dude” Lebowski was based on a real-life acquaintance of the Coen Brothers, Jeff “The Dude” Dowd. Dowd was honored with a Stony Award from High Times, so there's a direct hydroponic line from him to Jeff Bridges to Dudamel. The Dude wants you to bake in sticky icky while you take in Mozart.
3. You're at the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl. Mmmmmmm, bowls.)