Los Angeles has no shortage of historic, culturally monolithic concert venues. But none have as oversized and as specific a place in local culture as Dodger Stadium, where Gabriel Iglesias will soon become the first stand-up comic to perform two sold-out shows.
From its sheer size, to its panoramic views of the entire city, to its status as the third-oldest Major League Baseball park still in use, there’s something quintessentially Los Angeles about the venue. And its history as a sports venue encompasses so much of the city’s character, from the tragic — such as the Chavez Ravine Latino community that was infamously evicted in the decade prior to the stadium’s construction — to the indelible, including Kirk Gibson’s famous World Series walk-off home run straight into the right field bleachers in 1988. The Hollywood Bowl may be classier; the Troubadour may have a deeper history; the Rose Bowl may be bigger; and the Coliseum may be older. But the stadium is second to none in terms of local lore.
Inaugurated in 1962 (the Dodgers themselves spent their first years at the Coliseum after moving from Brooklyn to L.A. in 1958), Dodger Stadium got off to a slow start as a music venue, but its earliest uses all have places in the history books. Its first rock concert featured the Beatles in 1966, in what would turn out to be their penultimate full live performance, as well as the biggest single audience they ever performed to. Famously, the band had to be escorted out of the stadium in a Brinks armored truck after field-crashing fans scuttled the limousine they’d hired for that purpose, and then immobilized an ambulance that was to be used as a back-up.
The stadium would not feature another concert until nearly a decade later, when Elton John’s two sold-out nights in 1975 served as the high-water mark of his first wave of stardom; photos of John in a bedazzled Dodger uniform standing in front of a mass of humanity are among the most iconic images of the star. (Fittingly, John plans to play the final three North American dates of his farewell tour at Dodger Stadium later this year.)
Another historic early Stadium performance came almost a decade after that, when the Jacksons’ “Victory” tour finished with six straight performances in Chavez Ravine in 1984; the last of which concluded during a rainstorm, with the now-solo-superstar Michael announcing that the show would be the brothers’ last together — a decision he had yet to share with his sibling themselves.
The stadium quickly became a more regular concert venue, and has since featured a who’s who of bold-name touring acts, from Beyoncé to Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses to Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones to Depeche Mode. One of the last Dodger Stadium performances of the pre-COVID era even featured a touching full-circle moment, when Paul McCartney brought the only other surviving Beatle, Ringo Starr, onstage for a performance of “Helter Skelter” in 2019.
What playing under those same lights will mean for Gabriel Iglesias’ career remains to be seen, but it’s hard to think of better company.
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