M83 At L.A.’s Disney Hall – Culture Shock

As a native Angeleno with an IQ much bigger than either her shoe or cup size, I am sick and friggin’ tired of all the hackneyed L.A. clichés out there. That we Los Angeles folks have all had plastic surgery. That we’re all actresses, or aspiring actresses-slash-waitresses, or aspiring porn stars-slash-waitresses. That the ladies here are all Paris Hilton-lookalike gold-diggers and the men are all Ari Gold-ish, hair-plugging, small-penis-compensating sportscars drivers.

This is simply not true. Do all Brits have bad teeth and talk like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins? No. So the ongoing belief, often perpetrated by the media, that all Los Angeles residents are shallow, self-absorbed, latte-swilling, rhinestone-Sidekick-texting, SUV-driving, Ed Hardy douchewear-dressing airheads is, frankly, a crock of shite.

Anyway, sorry to get all uppity here, but the L.A. cliché that bothers me the most is “L.A. has no culture.” Excuse me? There are plenty of places in America that are virtually culture-free, where the only place to eat is Applebee’s and the only place to socialize is with one’s gas-huffing buddies in the local Circle K parking lot, but Los Angeles is definitely not one of those places. Los Angeles is a city teeming with museums, theaters, all sorts of music (from opera to classical to jazz to blues to rock ‘n’ roll), indie film houses, art galleries, parks, and incredible ethnic diversity (which means an incredibly diverse array of delicious ethnic food, of course).

I honestly don’t know where this “no culture” thing comes from. Saying L.A. has no culture is like saying L.A. has no sunshine. It just does, OK?

Another example that Los Angeles is NOT the capital of declined Western civilization was this past weekend’s very special evening at one of the most beautiful buildings on the Los Angeles landscape, downtown’s Frank Gehry-designed, stainless-steel, mirror-finish monolith Walt Disney Hall. (This is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center–yes, there are FOUR of them, which sounds pretty damn cultural to me.) The gorgeous and acoustically perfect hall has already been host to many remarkable musical milestone events in its brief five-year history–like Cornelius and Plaid‘s “Man-Machine In The Digital City” event or Antony & The Johnsons‘ recent triumphant appearance–and this past Saturday was another truly amazing Disney Hall evening.

On Saturday night at the hall, French electro auteurs M83 came together with the L.A. Philharmonic, in what was M83’s first-ever orchestral collaboration.

The program began with M83’s Anthony Gonzalez performing a 30-minute solo piece flanked by banks of neon-backlit electronic equipment that seemed lifted straight off the set of TRON (a set that included M83’s remix of Bloc Party‘s “Pioneers”)…

…then the show continued with the L.A. Philharmonic performing Anthony-approved classical pieces (Arvo Pärt‘s “Fratres” and Claude Debussy‘s “La Mer”), and concluded with the piece de la resistance: when M83, the Philharmonic, and an angelically white-clad choir all came together for five lush and swoony orchestronic pieces.

And all the while, I was sitting behind the ultimate Gentleman, the Afghan WhigsGreg Dulli. And if that’s not a classy evening in Los Angeles, I don’t know what is.


All photos by Joey Maloney/LA.COM

(FYI, for some additional stealthy and shrewd shattering of various L.A. clichés, check out the genius blog Nobody Walks In L.A.–you’ll never look at L.A. the same way again.)