Warm summer nights, lying out by the beach and a soundtrack that matches the ideal Santa Barbara lifestyle … Winter has descended on us but it’s nice to reminisce about what the Santa Barbara Bowl offered during its 2013 season. It was a feast for the ears and appealed to a wide demographic of people, making it one of the most accessible and diverse summer series the Bowl has had in a long time. Each show was strikingly different, yet equally enjoyable. Here are just a few that you may have missed.


Robert Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters – June 28, 2013


At the age of 65, Robert Plant has still got it. With his band, the Sensational Shape Shifters, Plant crooned classic Zeppelin tunes like “Rock n’Roll” and “Going to California,” as well as new ones like “Enchanter” and “Fixin’ to Die,” which brought to mind gypsies and old traveling caravans.

Largely influenced by Middle-Eastern melodies and infused with rock riffs, Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters breathed new life into old classics and put forth new sounds that could only have been presented by Plant’s sultry voice. The magnificent quality of his voice proved that age is truly just a number; like a fine wine, Plant has only gotten better with time. With an innate sensuality and sex appeal, Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters had the crowd shaking their hips and grooving, just as they must have back in the late ’60s.


Belle & Sebastian – July 17, 2013


The iconic 90’s band that arguably made “indie-pop” a thing brought their sweet harmonies and melodious voices to their first performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Lead singer Stuart Murdoch enchanted the audience with his sense of humor that added to the mellow, feel-good vibe of the night.

With songs like “Piazza New York Catcher” and “I Want the World to Stop” Belle & Sebastian had people singing along and swaying to the soothing harmonies that make them so charming. The live band consisted of singer and guitarist Murdoch, multi-talented Sarah Martin, bassist Mick Cooke and a string quartet that gave Belle & Sebastian its quintessential, cozy sound.

Nostalgic yet current, Belle & Sebastian combined simple guitar over-layed with folk and disco elements that made for a fun evening. The unpretentious nature of Belle & Sebastian and the diversity of their songs have helped them stay on the playlists of people of every age. Belle & Sebastian’s performance was dessert for the ears: nostalgic, warm and sweet.


The Postal Service – July20, 2013


The ever successful indie group The Postal Service provided a colorful performance with an impressive light show that reflected their pop and electronic inspired beats.

Since Jimmy Tamborello calls sunny Santa Barbara his hometown, it was a warm welcome for the group that was comprised of Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, Laura Burhenn and Tamborello for their reunion tour. The Postal Service’s lasting quality is parallel to Belle & Sebastian in that they have managed to stay strong in our hearts in the midst of ever-increasing indie pop acts. A renegade “indie” group, The Postal Service has huge following both nationally and internationally, and has played at festivals like Coachella and others multiple times. The Postal Service makes music that is enjoyable, danceable and free spirited, and the young crowd fed of their energy, making it a highlight of the season.



A version of this story appeared on page 9 of Thursday, November 21, 2013’s print version of the Daily Nexus.