Florence + The Machine at the Berkeley Greek Theater

We don’t often see live music, but when we do, it’s Florence + The Machine. By my count, it’s 4 of the last 5 shows we’ve seen together (this is not counting when Grace bailed on Howard Jones).

It’s been over a decade since we’ve been to the Greek Theater. I rode BART and a Berkeley campus bus to get there. We managed to post up to the 2nd row and I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person within 25 yards.

The show was amazing and was a stark contrast to the stripped down LA set we saw in the Spring. I think we’ll travel again for the next show.

Florence + the Machine Date Night in LA

I was still feeling bad about blowing up Grace’s plans for our birthday a couple weeks back. Right before we left for Spring break, I learned that Florence + the Machine were coming to San Francisco to play a couple last-minute shows at the Masonic before Coachella. We’re big fans and enjoyed them in Paris and at Shoreline a couple years ago. I really wanted to see them, but it was too late to cancel Spring break and the kids would have been pissed (hehe).

They were, however, playing one other show in LA the following week. I checked schedules and told Grace to clear hers and get an overnight sitter. I had this thing at work, so I planned to attend that meeting in our LA office, but that required us to take the first flight out to LA, which was brutal. Tradeoffs. I have a serious love-hate relationship with StubHub, but they came through with first row tickets and I got them before people started asking crazy sums of money for tickets way back. We were all set.

Because this was a do-over on our birthday trip, I made this one a surprise like her 40th. She didn’t know where we were going until we met Mr. TSA. We had a 6:45am flight, which ended up being completely unnecessary because my work thing was canceled after I booked the tickets. Too late.

When we arrived, it was too early to do anything, so we did the default thing and headed to Manhattan Beach. We grabbed a coffee and walked down the strand, which we haven’t done in years. A lot of the homes are the same from when I lived there a couple decades ago, but many are new, too. One thing I noticed is that those ocean-front homes get weathered really quickly. We walked all the way down to my old place at Marine and then turned around.

Grace didn’t know where we were staying, but we headed over to Beverly Hills. I considered the Montage because we enjoyed it so much last time, but it was insane so I thought we would try the Beverly Wilshire. I gambled on an upgrade to one of the serious suites and lost big time. The theme of the trip was that we were too early for everything. The room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we went over towards the Montage and had lunch at Bouchon, which wasn’t open yet either. I never met a croque madame I didn’t like, but that one was special.

The room was possibly a bit much for a 36 hour trip, but we ended up enjoying it. Grace kept singing the Pretty Woman theme song, which almost ruined the hotel for me. I saw exactly zero hookers, which actually did ruin the hotel for me. We had the afternoon to relax and I thought Grace might enjoy the spa, but we just went to the pool together. We got there around 1:30pm and completely checked out. It’s great traveling with the kids, but it’s also really great traveling without them. We both took a nappy nap – for 3 hours. It got windy and chilly during that time. Although I might have been suffering a little, I was too tired to move or do anything about it. When I finally did come to, it was nice again.

Dinner was at 6pm downstairs at Cut, so we got cleaned up. I’m sorry (not sorry) about all the car porn, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve never seen a Bugatti up close and this one was brown. Despite being half the price, it was the hybrid LaFerrari (1 of 499) that I couldn’t resist. Grace is lucky I didn’t hug it. Not pictured was this lowly black Aventador. They’re a trio because they’re all owned by the same sheik, who rolls into town every once in a while with the 3 cars and rents an entire floor at the Beverly Wilshire for a month. Does he need a driver?

The restaurant wasn’t quite ready for us when we arrived. We got the Kobe beef tour and I decided to try my first one (American). Neither of us was particularly hungry (still full from Spring break), but we did our best. The entire meal was really amazing.

Afterwards, we were off to the event. I will note that there was now a parade of Bugattis outside. At this point, Grace didn’t know for sure what we were doing, but she loves to spoil surprises by guessing and guessing. We took a car to downtown LA to the Ace Hotel. The venue was a beautiful old theater that only held 1,600 people. Grace and I were both excited.

The only real wrench in our plans so far was the Florence had broken her foot stage diving at Coachella the weekend before. While we were lucky she didn’t cancel, we were unlucky in that she had to remain seated the entire set and she would not be grabbing my hand like last time.

The show was stripped down and she had to change up her set list to something more “unplugged.” She added an eight-person string section, who were right in front of us in the orchestra pit. Despite her injury, she sounded amazing. As before, I’m pretty sure she was singing to me at some point. She definitely waved to me as the curtain was going down. And that was that.

The next morning, we invited Grace’s parents to the hotel for breakfast. They’ve probably driven past it thousands of times since moving to LA, but this was the first time they had been inside.

The Facebook had informed me that one of my long-lost brothers was also in LA. Joseph (JP) and I are BFFs on FB, but haven’t seen each other in almost 30 years, when he was an “observer” at my summer camp. I was so glad he and his wife, Younyoung (YY) were able to meet us for lunch. It was super fun catching up. After lunch, it was time to head home.

It’s amazing how such a short trip can be so rejuvenating (you know, after a tough week in NYC). I’m really happy it all worked out and we didn’t have to go all the way to Europe to see Flo this summer. Though, you never know…

Florence + the Machine at Shoreline

After we saw Florence + the Machine in Paris, we (I) decided we would be groupies. We had a chance to see them at UC Davis, but Grace wasn’t up for it because it was a Thursday (40 going on 60). When they announced their Shoreline show, which was on a Friday, there were no excuses.

Long story short, I got overzealous on StubHub and ended up with what turned out to be 3rd and 5th row tickets, the latter of which were used by Karen and Paul. Backing up a bit, we had an amazing dinner at Evvia in Palo Alto and arrived just as the opening act were finishing up.

They were handing out wristbands to the first several rows, which allowed us to stand up in front of the stage. We were assured that we would be released first “sometime during the first song.” However, when the lights went down, everyone rushed the stage. It was anarchy. Paul just happened to be crossing the front of the stage to head to his real seats when he posted up front and center. I told Grace it was go time, so we ended up on the rail, just to the outside of Florence’s left monitor. This turned out to be a pretty good spot, because whenever she came out to the crowd on our side of the stage, she was standing right in front of us. Even though the venue in Paris was small and intimate, it didn’t matter if there were 10 people or 10,000 standing behind us for this show. I noticed that we were hearing the guitarist’s Fender amps directly rather than the amphitheater sound system. At one point, Isa, the keyboardist, smiled right at me (seriously, right at me).

Throughout the concert, Florence gave some high-fives to fans with outstretched hands as she went back and forth across the stage. During the height of Shake It Out, I just held out my hand and she came right to me, looked right at me, and took my hand. Though it was just an instant, it was an unforgettable moment. I looked at Grace and she looked at me and said “sweetie!” This dude right behind her looked at me with a “duuude” look. PK looked over and was going crazy.

During the beginning of the next song, No Light, No Light, Florence was banging away on her own drum and afterwards came out and handed out her two drum sticks. Paul “received” one of them, but from my vantage, each were snatched from her hands. In any case, he went home with an amazing souvenir.

For obvious reasons, this show ranks as one of the best ever.

I found some videos of our special “moment.” Check out 1:22 in this clip.