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Summer 2021 Was the Year that Grand Performances Took Back Downtown Los Angeles

This is a sponsored post for Grand Performances.

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]s the last little bit of the summer sunset peaks below clouds that are colored pink and grey, KCRW’s Anne Litt spun groovy-sounding Brazilian tropicalia and The Rolling Stones—warming the crowd up for the final Grand Performances of the 2021 season. 

In its 35th year, the legendary concert series advertised itself as “Summer is Back” at the beginning of the season, and they didn’t disappoint. This year, they brought heavyweights, both local and international such as an evening hosted by hometown heroines Hello Stranger featuring Brainstory and Cholo Orange, Subsuelo 10th Anniversary to Celebrate Mexican Independence and Latin History Month, Buyepongo, and Quitapenas, to name a few. 

Grand Performances is and always has been one of the premier attractions in Downtown L.A in the summertime. They have their reputation of always providing a family-friendly outdoor environment that’s free and open to the public. But, that said, people came to party, and they did just that. 

As the sunset and bass began to drop slightly more, crowds slowly ascended towards the main stage to get a better spot at the headliner. Kids danced in front of a giant LED display illuminating their silhouettes like a new school version of The Electric Company while bouncing to Missy Elliot’s Werk mixed with Bollywood soundtrack courtesy of fellow KCRW DJ Francesca Harding. There’s something special about hearing Ghost Town DJs-My Boo while the warm Santa Ana wind blows against your skin. 

When she took the stage, Madame Gandi offered the entire audience an opening statement of gratitude for taking part before breaking into an earth-shattering set. The percussive nature of Gandi’s set was profound, touching on elements of jazz, world beat, and electronica.

The electrofeminist songstress, having previously performed with other vanguard artists such as Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs and M.I.A., Gandi has drummed for acts such as Lizzo, Thievery Corporation, and Kehlani.

Her ability to toe the line between the progressive spoken word and elements of slowly driven dance melodies provide its unique message, underscoring Gandi’s work’s specific political nature. Touching on various themes such as injustice within the music industry, the long-lasting effects on the pandemic of not seeing loved ones for an extended period, all between different yoga poses. 

Gandi spoke about her work with the Give a Beat organization, where she and her bandmates tutor incarcerated youth in music just before launching into an electro-reggae-tinged jam. Her fast-paced lyrical abilities provided the linchpin as her band launched into a soulful accompaniment. She was lighting up the stage with her presence and ability to hold her own closed out the remainder of her set.

With the 15th anniversary of the legendary hip-hop dance party, the Do-Over the next night that closes out the Grand Performances season, it was undoubtedly one for the books.  Bringing summer back to Los Angeles never felt so right. 

Here’s looking forward to next year.

z

Attendees of Grand Performances savored the last little bits of summer last Friday night at California Plaza
Attendees of Grand Performances savored the last little bits of summer last Friday night at California Plaza. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
The family-friendly atmosphere at Grand Performances. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
The family-friendly atmosphere at Grand Performances. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
Grand Performances's crowd takes in the music. Photo by Sandy Altamirano
Grand Performances' crowd takes in the music. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
Dan Grubb (bassist/guitarist) lays down a groove as part of Madame Gandhi's musical entourage photo by Sandy Altamirano
Dan Grubb (bassist/guitarist) lays down a groove as part of Madame Gandi's musical entourage. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
Madame Gandhi bring her signature energy to the California Plaza. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
Madame Gandi bring her signature energy to the California Plaza. Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
Madame Gandhi dazzled the Grand Performance audience . Photo by Sandy Altamirano.
Madame Gandi dazzled the Grand Performance audience . Photo by Sandy Altamirano.

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